The Mena Bearcats and LadyCats swept the Hope senior teams Friday night at the Union Bank Center in action heard live on KQOR 105.3. The LadyCats led throughout the contest for a convincing 60-43 victory. Although the Bearcats started out slowly, the Mena boys roared back in the second half to defeat Hope 56-46.
Tateli Thacker and Paige Evans each scored eight points in the opening quarter as Mena jumped out to a 19-12 lead. Thacker and Evans were working the high post-low post game perfectly, while the LadyCats played a stifling 2-3 zone on the defensive end.
Although Thacker and Evans both picked up their second personal fouls and had to sit out much of the second quarter, the LadyCats still extended the halftime lead to 34-20. According to “The Voice of the Bearcats” Phillip Wilson, the LadyCats did a nice job of rebounding and limiting Hope to just one shot on the defensive end.
The LadyCats led by as many as 20 in the second half on their way to the 60-43 win to improve to 5-2 in the 4A-Region 7 conference and 10-8 overall. Thacker led Mena with 18 points and Evans added 14.
The Bearcats came out ice cold in the boys contest, and didn’t score in the first six minutes of the game. To compound matters, Mena big man 6’4” Brock Strother picked up two early fouls and had to go to the bench. Strother’s absence allowed the Hope big men to go to work down low. Finally, Connor Harvey and Zeb Wilson hit three point shots to get Mena going late in the first quarter. Hope led 10-6 after the opening quarter.
Hope took a 26-20 lead into the locker room at half. However, the second half was an entirely different story as Connor Harvey started dialing in from long distance with three point jumpers. The 6’2” Harvey, who is being recruited by Ouachita Baptist and other colleges, knocked down 9 three-pointers on the night and finished with 31 points to spark the Mena rally.
The Bearcats took the lead for the first time in the final seconds of the third quarter on a three-point shot to make it 38-36 going into the final quarter.
Mena outscored Hope 20-8 in the fourth quarter to win by ten at 56-46. Harvey was four for four from the free throw line down the stretch to seal the win.
The Bearcats improved to 6-1 in the 4A-Region 7 conference, and 15-5 overall.
The Mena teams will host the conference tournament at the Union Bank Center February 11th through the 16th, as well as the regional tournament the following week.
The Mena senior teams traveled to Arkadelphia for conference action on Tuesday, January 15th. The Lady Cats raced to a 24-12 halftime lead, and cruised to a 36-23 victory. Meanwhile, the Bearcats dominated the Badgers 67-36.