Southwest Arkansas Invitational

Southwest Arkansas
Trinity Christian coach Jonnie Smith talks to his players during a timeout in Thursday's game with Bradley. The Bears beat the Warriors in the Southwest Arkansas Invitational at Mineral Springs. Photo by Louie Avery

Warriors stumble; Bradley plays host Mineral Springs boys Saturday for title

Southwest Arkansas Invitational
Trinity Christian’s Shawn Brown defends a Bradley player Thursday at the Southwest Arkansas Invitational. Photo by Louie Avery

MINERAL SPRINGS, Ark. – The multi-million dollar Mineral Springs Arena opened its doors this week for Arkansas’ oldest high school basketball tournament, the Southwest Arkansas Invitational.

The championship games are set for Saturday night, with Fouke’s girls playing Ashdown at 6 p.m. The boys’ title game will feature host Mineral Springs against Bradley, which eliminated Trinity Christian (10-10) Thursday in the semifinals, 59-32. The Hornets rallied from an early 11-2 deficit to beat Ashdown’s junior varsity, 47-30.

Southwest Arkansas Invitational
Ashdown sophomore guard Porsha Randle penetrates against her Murfreesboro counterpart. Photo by Louie Avery

In other action Thursday, Ashdown’s girls beat Murfreesboro, 64-55. Fouke scorched the nets with 14 treys en route to a 72-30 win over Horatio.

Bradley (18-3) has beaten the Warriors three times this season. Two of the Bears’ three setbacks have been to top-ranked Kirby.

“We know what to expect when we’re playing Bradley,” said Trinity Christian coach Jonnie Smith. “I’m just disappointed in how we didn’t try to control the ball. When you turn the ball over twenty times in one half, you’re not going to beat anybody. It wasn’t our defense that hurt us tonight. Our offense gave up more points than our defense.”

Southwest Arkansas Invitational
The Mineral Springs Arena features a VIP/Hospitality room that is arguably second to none in Arkansas.

Juniors named Taylor lead Bradley

A pair of juniors named Taylor led the Bears’ attack with 12 points each. Sophomore Zach Franklin led the Warriors with 11 points.

“My first Bradley team played in this event in 1989,” said Bradley coach Benny Harris. “There just starting this back up. It used to be in Saratoga, and there’s been some really great teams and players involved. It’ll grow here, this is a really nice place.”

Adaysia Thompson poured in 26 points, while Aleya Hill scored 10 of her 14 points in the first quarter to lead the Lady Panthers past Murfreesboro. Laine Baxter paced the Lady Rattlers with 12 points.

Southwest Arkansas Invitational
Mineral Springs’ new arena has a seating capacity of 1,769. Check out the main scoreboard over the court. There’s also scoreboards at each end of the court.

Fouke missing two starters against Lady Lions

Fouke (14-3) was missing two starters Thursday because of injuries, but the Lady Panthers still dominated with their incredible outside shooting. River Watkins scored all 18 of her points on six treys. Fouke’s other four starters were also in double digits. Mallory Oliver scored 14, Jade Perry 12, Alyssa Caudle 11 and Whitney McMurry 10. Summer Morgan had 13 points for the Lady Lions (6-10).

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Braden Daniels started the game for Mineral Springs, but was benched temporarily after a cold start. He returned to score 18 of his game-high 20 points in the final three quarters. The Hornets improved to 6-6 on the season.

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