Dobyns-Bennett (6-4) threw a big scare at Arkansas defending 7A state champion Fayetteville but in the end became the victim of cat-quick guard Kikko Haydar’s clutch scoring and lost 59-52.
Fayetteville went 30-0 and never trailed in the fourth quarter last season. When D-B’s Adam Denison hit a backdoor layup with 4:52 remaining, it gave the Indians a 46-44 lead on the Bulldogs — an achievement in itself.
At this juncture, Haydar — a former soccer player — took over the game. The 5-foot-9 senior scored his team’s final 14 points and finished with a career-high 33. In the span of two minutes, he scored on a 16-foot jumper, two layups and a 3-point goal for a 53-46 edge. He continued to make free throws as D-B fouled in an attempt to catch up. Haydar was 8-of-14 from the field and 14-of-16 on free throws.
“Last year, I was more of a facilitator at point guard. This year, my assignment includes looking for more shots,’’ said Haydar, who was impressed by the Indians’ efficiency.
“Dobyns-Bennett did a really good job of not turning the ball over and by kicking the ball out to its shooters when penetrating.’’
Fayetteville coach Barry Gebhart said Haydar makes his job easier.
“I just tell him what we need and he gets it done,” Gebhart said. “He wants the ball late in games and I feel safe with him on the free throw line.’’
Gebhart seemed surprised at D-B’s competitiveness.
“(The Indians) are extremely well coached,’’ he said. “They had a lot to do with us not playing like we were capable of.”
You don’t always show up with your best game when you play 30 in a season.’’
D-B coach Charlie Morgan’s ballclub was charged with 23 fouls.
“We couldn’t contain that guard (Haydar),’’ Morgan said. “We picked up silly fouls. Anytime you’ve got a point guard as heady as he is, playing defense is a lot harder.
“There are handlers and non-handlers. We were having to guard handlers and you can’t take the ball away from handlers. Our guys stayed in there and played hard but got in foul trouble.’’
Denison hit 13 points and Ben Riggs 10, but it was the floor play of Tyler Ailshie that kept D-B in the game.
Logan Bailiff hit on 10 of 20 floor shots to score 23 points in Cherokee’s 61-52 victory over Gate City (1-5) in the loser’s bracket.
“We committed over the summer to putting in the dribble-drive offense,’’ Chiefs coach Jeremy Parrott said. “Tonight, Bailiff was able to pick his spots real well.’’
Bailiff said the Blue Devils were getting too many offensive rebounds in the first half and Cherokee adjusted after intermission. “We had to box out and keep them off the boards. Late in the game, we settled down and handled their pressure.’’
Bailiff likes Cherokee’s new approach to offense.
“The dribble-drive suits my style,’’ he said. “All you do is get the ball and drive. Well, it is complicated in some ways.’’
Gate City was unable to attain any consistency. The good news was, two key players — Trevor Smith and Wes Hughes — returned from the injury list, though neither saw much action.
Jordan Potts, scoring outside, and Paul Arnold, hitting inside, each got 11 points for Gate City.
“We made some poor decisions and Cherokee capitalized,’’ Gate City coach Scotty Vermillion said. “We let No. 23 (Bailiff) drive down the middle any time he wanted. I thought we were a little bit further along than this.’’
D-B will play Brainerd at 1:30 p.m. today.