Basketball

MORRILTON -- Magnolia, down by 10 points in the third period, rallied Thursday for a 61-58 victory against Berryville in the quarter-finals of the Arkansas Class 4A Basketball Tournament.

The Panthers (23-0) will meet tournament host Morrilton at 1 p.m. Saturday in the semi-finals at Devil Dog Arena. The winner will play one of four teams – Mills University Studies, Farmington, Watson Chapel or Blytheville – for the state title at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 20 at Bank OZK Arena in Hot Springs.

Cold foul shooting and troublesome 6-8 Berryville Bobcats junior Weston Teague in the lane almost ended what is now Magnolia’s 54-game winning streak. But, aggressive defense and patient offense that fed Magnolia shooters for confident lay-ups finally broke Berryville in the fourth period.

Magnolia took an early 5-3 lead thanks to a foul shot by Derrian Ford and two baskets by Nevi Tell.

Berryville reeled off six unanswered points and it took an Adrian Walker basket to break the chain and tie the game at 8-8.

Colby Garland and Berryville’s Landon Chester traded threes and the lead. A Ford basket tied the game at 13 but a Teague lay-up put Berryville ahead 15-13 at the end of the first period.

Berryville built a 23-17 lead before baskets by Ford and Garland cut the score to 23-22.

A 3-pointer by Adrian Walker kept Magnolia close with a 27-26 score. Ford went to the line after falling hard on his back in the lane, but could not connect on either shot. Berryville’s Nate Allen scored a 3-pointer as the Bobcats led at the half, 30-26.

Berryville’s Wilson scored 3 and Ford responded with two, and a foul shot was no good. Chester and Garland traded threes. Wilson put up two and made good on a trip to the line. Another Teague basket put Berryville up 41-31.

Things began to turn Magnolia’s way after a five-point Panthers run and a 15-footer by Garland that followed a Teague basket.

Ford followed a layup with a steal, layup and a foul shot as Berryville led 47-45.

Magnolia got into Berryville’s face in the backcourt and it paid off when Tell stole a pass in the paint and made an easy lay-up, tying the game and drawing a foul. His foul shot gave Magnolia a 48-47 lead.

The lead changed hands often in the fourth period but Berryville appeared in great position for the upset when Wilson hit a three from the right side, and a 58-55 Bobcats lead, with just over a minute to play.

A jump ball with possession going to Berryville almost iced the game. But Wilson slipped and lost the ball, turning it over to Magnolia.

Tell was fouled and sank both shots with 48 seconds left. Magnolia trailed 58-57.

Magnolia continued to apply pressure and double-teamed Nate Allen. Tell picked off the ball and drove in for the layup and a 59-58 Magnolia lead.

Tell dove on a loose ball and Magnolia inbounded thanks to the possession arrow with 29 seconds left.

Chester fouled Adrian Walker, who hit both throws for a 61-58 lead.

Berryville had the ball for the final 30 seconds of the game and chose to go for the last shot. The final shot came from Wilson from the left side in three-point range. It hit the rim and bounced away at the buzzer.

Despite a tough afternoon at the line, Ford led Magnolia with 21 points. Garland had 19. Tell had 11 – most of those in the fourth quarter. Adrian Walker had 10 points.

Berryville ended the season with a 21-4 record.

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