Bentonville High’s boys have already secured a first-round bye in next week’s Class 7A state tournament, but there’s still another prize within the Tigers’ grasp.
Thanks to Bentonville’s win Friday over Rogers High and Fayetteville’s victory over Springdale Har-Ber, the Tigers are back in a tie for first place in the 7A-West Conference standings.
Bentonville (14-10, 10-2) would like nothing more than to claim at least a share of the conference title, and that can be done with a pair of victories this week against Rogers Heritage and Bentonville West.
The Tigers will celebrate its senior night Tuesday when Heritage visits Tiger Arena, and the War Eagles have already played spoiler once. Seth Stanley’s 3-pointer at the buzzer Friday gave Heritage a win over West and denied the Wolverines the opportunity to clinch their state tournament berth.
Bentonville won the first meeting last month with a 52-44 decision on Heritage’s home court. The Tigers snapped a 34-34 tie with a 7-0 spurt early in the fourth quarter, then secured with the final margin with three late free throws and a layup at the buzzer by Jordan Hemphill, who finished with 24 points.
Bentonville then closes out the regular season Friday with its first trip to West. The newest 7A-West Conference rivalry started last month in Tiger Arena, and the Tigers pulled away for a 54-41 victory after Cobe Muldrew’s 3-pointer pulled the Wolverines with 41-37 with 5:08 remaining.
However, if Bentonville wins both of its games and Har-Ber loses one of its two remaining games against Van Buren or Heritage, the Tigers would be the outright conference champions and earn the league’s top seed for the state tournament.
Bentonville’s girls have been on a downward spiral since the second half of 7A-West play began.
The Lady Tigers (11-14, 4-8) have lost five in a row after falling Friday night at Rogers, but they need just one more win to secure a state tournament berth.
Bentonville will close out its regular season facing the two teams where the Lady Tigers picked up their last two wins. Bentonville will host Rogers Heritage for its final home game Tuesday, then hit the road Friday against Bentonville West.
The Lady Tigers had their way with both opponents the first time around, claiming a 69-42 win at Heritage before defeating West by a 73-28 margin.
Bentonville appears headed for the sixth seed in the Class 7A state tournament, but the Lady Tigers can still move up to the fifth seed with two wins and two Har-Ber losses this week.