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Baptist Prep outduels sharp-shooters

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Photographs by Mitchell PE Masilun

Baptist Prep’s Isaac McBride (5), Connor Vanover (23) and Dylan Hogan (11) push the ball upcourt against Pea Ridge in the Eagles’ 59-51 victory at the Bank of the Ozarks Arena in Hot Springs for the Class 4A title. More photos available at arkansasonline.com/galleries.

HOT SPRINGS -- Baptist Prep Coach Brian Ross saw his team allow 13 three-pointers to Pea Ridge on Friday night.

However, the Eagles still won their second consecutive Class 4A boys state championship, defeating the Blackhawks 59-51 in front of 4,359 at Bank of the Ozarks Arena.

Baptist Prep (31-4) won its second consecutive state championship and fifth overall. The Eagles also won titles in 1997, 1999, 2009 and 2016.

Pea Ridge (32-3) was playing in its first state championship game after earning the No. 1 seed from the 4A-North region.

The Blackhawks were 13 of 23 from three-point range, but Baptist Prep's Isaac McBride was the difference Friday night.

The sophomore finished with 20 points on 6-of-13 shooting and his jumper with 4:23 remaining gave Baptist Prep a 49-47 lead. He had nine fourth-quarter points.

"He competes every single day and every single drill like it's the state finals," Ross said. "He has ever since the day I met him as an eighth-grader. You do a rebounding drill, he's going all out to win it. You do a shooting drill on June 10, he's going out there to win. He competes every single day like it is a state final.

"That's why he's ready when he gets here."

Senior guard Dylan Hogan hit a three-pointer to extend Baptist Prep's lead to 54-47 with 2:10 to play. The Eagles' largest lead was 57-47 with 51 seconds left.

It was too much for the Blackhawks to overcome, Coach Trent Loyd said.

"We did shoot the ball well," Loyd said. "We wanted to be in the game in the fourth quarter. It just didn't go our way."

Also for Baptist Prep, 7-foot-3 junior center Connor Vanover scored 20 points and had 11 rebounds. Hogan added 11 points for the Eagles, who shot 61.8 percent (21 of 34) from the floor.

Junior guard Hayden Holtgrewe hit Pea Ridge's 10th three-pointer of the game to end the third quarter to cut the Eagles' lead to 41-38.

The Blackhawks' long-distance performance impressed Ross.

"That was an amazing performance," Ross said. "Nobody has done it that well against us. Honestly, they probably deserved to win the game."

Senior guard Joey Hall led Pea Ridge with 16 points and made four three-pointers. Kobe Rose, a junior guard, finished with 11 points, including 3 three-pointers as the Blackhawks shot 18 of 35 overall from the floor.

Pea Ridge made five three-pointers in the first half, with Hall making four. His three-pointer at the end of the first quarter pulled the Blackhawks within 14-10 and gave them a 21-19 lead with his fourth three-pointer of the half at the 4:10 mark.

But Baptist Prep finished the first half on a 7-0 run to take a 28-23 halftime lead.

Despite the Blackhawks' performance from beyond the three-point arc, the Eagles persevered to win the school's fifth state championship.

"We've always been prepared," McBride said. "We're a bunch of winners. When we go out there and see that we're down, we don't get frustrated. Basketball is a game of runs. We always keep together as a unit. We know to get the ball to the big man [Vanover] and let him go to work. Everything else runs smoothly from there."

Vanover, who called Friday's victory more satisfying than the Eagles' 4A title a year ago, agreed with his teammate.

"We've faced a lot of adversity throughout the year," Vanover said. "We just had to stay calm. We did a good job of that. We got through it."

Sports on 03/11/2017

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