GENTRY -- The pressure of one of Benton County's oldest rivalries appeared to be too much for Chastery Fuamatu.
Gentry girls basketball coach Toby Tevebaugh told his senior forward, "Calm down!' several times from the bench before finally putting in a substitute early in the first quarter.
After errant turnovers and missed layups to start the night, Fuamatu shook off the slow start and finished in a big way, hitting the game-winning shot to propel her team to a 53-52 victory over Gravette in a huge 3A/4A District 1 game.
The win likely locked down the No. 2 seed for Gentry for the 4A-1 Conference Tournament in two weeks in Lincoln. Berryville is likely going to be the No. 1 seed.
"My first game when I started in fourth grade was against Gravette and we lost to them," Fuamatu said. "Now it's my last game against Gravette and we won. I just wanted to be what my team needed me to be."
The Lady Pioneers (16-8, 14-2) found themselves down by three points with under a minute left, and Gravette's pesky press proved to be effective. After passing the ball around the perimeter, Fuamatu got the ball at the high post. Instead of kicking it back out for a potential game-tying 3-pointer, the senior drove to the basket and laid it in to cut the Lady Lions' lead to a single point, 52-51.
Tevebaugh said he could feel the energy of the game shift in his team's favor.
"I said, 'I think we're gonna get them,'" Tevebaugh said. "Sometimes when you feel that way, then they start feeling that way."
With Gravette inbounding the ball, the obvious next response was to foul, sending the Lady Lions to the free-throw line and prolonging the game. Gentry's defense had other plans, as the unit forced Gravette into a five-second count trying to inbound the ball after Fuamatu's basket, and a turnover that took no time off the clock.
Tevebaugh said there was no question who'd have the ball at the end.
"It's an old play I used to use," he said. "Basically, we just try to get the ball to our best athlete up in the air and let her go make a play. She did."
The fourth-quarter heroics are what Fuamatu will be remembered for in this game, but her third-quarter scoring clinic set the comeback in motion. With her team down 11 at halftime, the senior came out in the second half and poured in eight quick points before Tevebaugh was forced to sub her out when she picked up her fourth foul at the 4-minute, 18-second mark in the third quarter.
She finished with 10 in that quarter alone to make up a big chunk of her 18 points.
"(Coach told me to) be as good in the second half as I was bad in the first half," Fuamatu said. "We were all there, the crowd was there and we were all happy."
Senior guard Haley Hays also played a big role in the game, pouring in 14 to help her team get the victory.
Gravette (18-6, 13-3) finished with three double-digit scorers. Senior guard Kyrstin Branscum poured in 15, followed by sophomore guard Madison Spencer with 12 and freshman guard Shylee Morrison with 10.
Gentry 12 10 12 19--53
Gravette 7 26 14 5--52
Gentry: Fuamatu 18, Hays 14, DeZurick 7, Boss 6, Nix 5, Ward 3
Gravette: Branscum 15, Spencer 12, Morrison 10, Kildow 6, Bookout 4, Foster 3, Garcia 2
Gravette 58, Gentry 56
When Gravette and Gentry took the court Friday night, the seniors from both teams aimed to put on a show in the final time they'd play against each other in a regular season game.
Little did the crowd know, it was a Gentry sophomore guard who'd prove to be the game's star player despite Gravette's victory.
Luke Fox poured in 29 points for the Pioneers (10-13, 5-11), including 12 in the fourth quarter. He did his best to try and help his team come back, but Gravette's defense came up big when it needed to.
"He shot it really well, props to him," Gravette coach Matt Busch said. "I felt like a lot of them were contested. The NBA is even changing the way high school ball is played, so kids are shooting a lot. You've just gotta try to weather the storm and play really good defense."
Busch said his turnovers played a role in allowing Fox and Gentry to poise their comeback attempt, but the Lions took care of the ball when they needed to in crunch time.
"I think the biggest thing we did at the end was we didn't turn the ball over," Busch said. "We might've missed a free throw here and there, but we kept going to the line and didn't give them any extra opportunities."
The Lions (18-6, 12-4) were aided by big performances from senior Dayten Wishon, who poured in 13 points and had several big blocks on the defensive end. Senior Kelton Trembly added 12 of his own, and senior Chris Childress scored 11 to round out the double-digit scorers.
On the other side, junior guard Dylan Kilgore scored 15 to join Fox as Gentry's only double-figure scorer.
Gentry 11 12 12 21--56
Gravette 14 14 15 15--58
Gentry: Fox 29, Kilgore 15, Bates 7, Hammond 3, Linton 2
Gravette: Wishon 13, Trembly 12, Childress 11, Austin 8, Soule' 5, McCarthy 4, Trembly 5
Sports on 02/07/2018
Print Headline: Fuamatu comes through for Gentry