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Basketball: Wishon powers Lions to win over Saints

GRAVETTE -- Though Gravette held the lead from the early first quarter on, the team needed to stave off a comeback by Shiloh Christian in the Lions' 61-52 victory over the Saints Friday night.

Senior guard Dayten Wishon responded the only way he knew how: make plays and will his team to victory.

Gravette 61, Shiloh Christian 52

Gravette 14 11 18 18 -- 61

Shiloh Christian 11 11 12 18 -- 52

Gravette (13-4-1, 7-3) Wishon 23, Childress 8, Austin 8, Trembly 8, Soule' 8, Trembly 6

Shiloh Christian (8-7, 6-4) Hutchinson 22, Neal 13, Bryant 9, Morrison 4, Russ 3, Thomson 1

"He's our emotional leader and a lot of times he's our leading scorer and our leading rebounder," said Gravette coach Matt Busch. "He did a really good job tonight and put us right back on track."

Wishon led the team with 23 points and eight rebounds. He also added three assists, as he made it a point to get the ball to the open man. He said that, despite the brilliant performance, he's happier to get the victory.

"(Filling the stat sheet) doesn't really mean anything as long as we win," Wishon said. "I couldn't have done it without my team blocking Shiloh out."

The Saints threatened to cut into the Lions' lead late in the fourth quarter and make it a game, but Gravette got the ball to Wishon and let him work his magic to finish business.

At the 2-minute, 15-second mark, the senior got the ball at the right wing with a taller defender guarding him. The 6-foot-4-inch guard pump faked to the left and got the defender to bite before driving to the short corner and pulling up for a pure jump shot. The shot was nothing but net and turned out to be in the nail in the coffin for the Saints.

"I saw that he was a little bit bigger than me and he was probably going to block my shot so I'd better pull it in his eye," Wishon said.

While Wishon was the only Lion to score in double figures, his teammates played significant roles in getting the win. Three Gravette players scored eight points: seniors Chris Childress, Kelton Trembly and Bailey Soule'. Childress and Trembly also recorded six rebounds and an assist each, while Soule' had three rebounds and an assist.

On the other side, senior Jackson Hutchinson led the Saints with 22 points. He also had five rebounds and an assist. Senior Reagan Neal scored 13 of his own to play a role in his team's comeback attempt.

Busch said the win does a lot for momentum and separates the Lions from several other 4A Region 1 contenders.

"We were all tied at 6-3 ... us, Prairie Grove and Shiloh," Busch said. "We got the win, so it puts us one game ahead of them."

Girls: Gravette 64, Shiloh Christian 34

In the first couple minutes of the game, Gravette looked lost. The Lady Lions turned the ball over five times and found themselves unable to run their offense.

Gravette 14 25 13 12 -- 64

Shiloh Christian 5 10 15 4 -- 34

Gravette (14-4, 9-1) Smith 12, Bookout 10, Branscum 8, Foster 8, McKenzie 7, Kladow 6, Curtis 3, Garcia 3, Spencer 3, Morrison 2, Dixon 2.

Shiloh Christian (9-8, 4-6) Sandefur 16, McCredy 7, Johnson 6, May 4, Glenn 1.

A timeout and tough love by coach Will Pittman changed all that, and Gravette earned a blowout victory over Shiloh Christian.

"We were just talking about picking up our intensity and taking care of the ball and they knew it," Pittman said. "They knew they weren't playing good. I just reminded them of it, but it's a group that wants to play well and wants to win."

Pittman was noticeably perturbed by his team's lackluster start, yelling "What is going on? That's five turnovers! Five turnovers!" as his team jogged to the huddle. After the team returned to the court, the typical fast break-oriented offense took shape and Gravette began to pull away.

"I just thought they started doing a better job of picking it up and moving the ball," Pittman said of his team's effort after the timeout. "We got some shots in the flow of the offense and that helped us kind of push the lead out a little bit."

Sophomore guard Mallory Smith scored 12 points to lead Gravette, while junior guard Jessica Bookout scored 10. Both guards scored many of their points in transition, as quick sideline passes opened up scoring lanes for easy layups.

On the other side, junior guard Shea Sandefur was the only Lady Saint to score in double figures, pouring in 16 points in the losing effort.

Pittman said the victory does a lot for Gravette's confidence heading into the remaining schedule.

"It just keeps us where we need to be, and we just need to take care of them one at a time, which is all you can do," Pittman said. "We'll enjoy this one for a little bit and get focused for the next conference game."

Sports on 01/13/2018

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