Maumelle basketball Coach Michael Shook was looking forward to the 4A North region tournament held at Maumelle so the Hornets could see some different teams.
Ironically to reach the finals and win the regional title, the Hornet had to dispose of league members Booneville and Pottsville. Last night, Maumelle captured the 4A North title as they slipped past Pottsville, 74-73. Junior Kendall Donnerson hit a jumper from the free throw line with 5.6 left on the clock to seal the victory.
As was indicative of the other two times the teams played, the contest was close and back and forth. With 1:45 left in the game, the Hornets (21-10) trailed 69-66. After a technical foul by Pottsville, freshman Shawn Williams hit two free throws to move Maumelle to within 69-68. The teams traded baskets and leads, and Maumelle called a timeout with 13.9 left on the clock and trailing, 73-72.
"That was not the play we called," Shook said. "Shawn and Kendall were supposed to run and pick and roll, and they defended it well. Kendall never lacks confidence."
The Hornets advance to the state tournament beginning Wednesday at Cave City. However, they get a bye and don’t play until 5:30 p.m. Thursday.
Williams finished with 25 points. Against Gravette in the first round, he paced the Hornets with 23 points.
"I think playing with the ninth grade first helped him because he had to be that leader," Shook said. "He slowly showed progress coming off the bench and now he is gaining confidence."
In the first round, the Hornets defeated Gravette, 74-62. However, they trailed 55-51 with four minutes left in the game. Williams was 6-of-7 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter. Donnerson finished with 16 points, and senior Cole Thomas added 13 points that included two timely three-point baskets.
"There was so much on the line," Shook said. "The day before the number one seeds lost. I was a little nervous."
Maumelle met Booneville in the semifinals and came away with a 54-47 victory. Donnerson was the leading scorer with 14 points, Williams added 11 and sophomore Gary Burton contributed 10. Shook said the Hornets stepped up the intensity and defense in the second half. Like the other times the two teams played, Maumelle had more manpower and was able to pull away.
With the way Pottsville played its first two contests and the way the Hornets played their first two, Shook knew if a blowout was to happen it would be in Pottsville’s favor. Not only was the victory a good one for the Hornets, but the game was also needed as they head to the state tournament.
"This game was good for us, and other two just weren’t," Shook said. "Pottsville is just as good a team or better than what we’ve played all year long. I wouldn’t be surprised if we both ended up in the finals."