With a victory over Pottsville last week, Maumelle moved into a first-place tie with the Apaches in the 4A-4 conference and kept that spot after also defeating Mena last Friday.
Riding an eight-game winning streak, the Hornets (13-9, 9-1) defeated Pottsville, 76-68. The eight-point margin was also the same amount Maumelle lost to the Apaches in December. If both teams win out, which gets the number one seed into the district tournament will come down to total points with the 10 the maximum for each victory.
"We did what we were supposed to do, and that was beat Pottsville," Maumelle Coach Michael Shook said. "It was very exciting, we played well, and the environment was good."
What Shook described as a bad second quarter led to a 37-33 halftime deficit. An adjustment and a conversation at halftime led to the victory.
"We weren’t getting back on defense, and they were beating us at our game with open shots," Shook said. "I told the guys that. We also ran a box-and-one on Michael Perry, and he was scoreless the fourth quarter."
Sophomore Gary Burton led the Hornets with 17 points, which also included a 9-of-10 performance from the free throw line. Junior forward Kendall Donnerson added 15 points; freshman Shawn Williams chipped in 13, and sophomore Tyshun Robinson contributed 11.
At Mena, the Hornets were down, 24-23, at the half and tied at the end of the third quarter. Because the Bearcats figured out Maumelle’s zone, the Hornets had to change to a man defense. They also had to learn to adjust to the referees’ calls. The first meeting was about like this one as the two teams were tied at the half, 21-all, and Maumelle scored 50 points the second half.
"Only 23 points at the half made me nervous," Shook said. "Because the referees let the game get physical and realized it was getting out of hand, they changed the way they were calling, and it was inconsistent."
Donnerson paced Maumelle with 16 points, Williams finished with 15 and Burton tallied 12.
Next up for the Hornets was a trip to Dover last night and a home meeting with Booneville on Friday. Maumelle won the first meeting with both schools. Shook was looking for the Hornets to work on their man defense at Dover and also to concentrate on how the refs are calling and make the proper adjustments.
Shook says Booneville likes to run and gun and live by the three-point basket. In the first meeting, Maumelle’s depth eventually wore them down. The main thing, though, is for the Hornets to keep tweaking what they do and prepare for post-season play.