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Benton Cardinals overcome hot outside shooting from St. Michael to extend winning record

Jan. 23—The Benton Cardinals boys basketball team has been busy on the hardwood as of late, and that schedule didn't change Tuesday as the Cardinals welcomed St. Michael the Archangel Guardians to Springer Gymnasium for some Class 4 action.

In a roller coaster game, the Cardinals would overcome a scare from St. Michael in the second and fourth quarter to win their seventh in a row with a 71-63 victory.

This contest began with Benton's senior guard Zach Smith breaking open the scoring for the Cardinals. Smith was able to tally the first six points for his team, and he'd eventually end the first quarter with nine total points.

Smith's play kept Benton ahead, but the Guardians knocked down three of their own 3-pointers in the first quarter to stay afloat. Anytime St. Michael would get close, Benton's Lincoln Goodwin would find a way to the charity stripe for five points just solely off free-throws.

At the end of the first quarter, Benton was up 19-14, with their biggest lead being eight points during that quarter. In the second, the Cardinals were able to extend their lead jumping out on a 6-2 with those points coming from the paint.

The Guardians weren't shying away from the pressure, as they would knock down a 3-pointer to pull back within two points, and then proceeded to hit three more 3-pointers in back-to-back-to-back action, taking a 32-21 lead. Smith wouldn't let Benton lose the lead, and he'd cash in on a 3-pointer of his own as the buzzer sounded, and Benton went up 34-32 into halftime.

When the third quarter rolled around, the pace slowed down compared to the previous two quarters. In the first three minutes, only four total points were scored between the two teams. After a steal and lay-up that led to an extended 44-35 lead for Benton, St. Michael took a timeout to regroup.

A 12 point lead would be the biggest of the contest, but the Guardians would keep chipping away, getting the lead down to as much as eight points with mere seconds remaining before the fourth quarter.

In the fourth, despite being down by 12 with just 5:21 remaining, the Guardians again knocked down crucial 3-pointers to pull again within two points, but a steal from Goodwin would eventually seal the game.

Calvin Silvers can be reached at calvin.silvers@newspressnow.com.