Junior Austin Lee scored 22 points and teammates Braxton Anderson and Mason Wight scored 10 points each Tuesday to power Alma to a 77-40 nonconference win against Mena.
Alma (1-0) never trailed and led by as many as 39 points.
“We’ve had 71 practices and it’s finally good to go out and play an opponent,” Alma coach Stan Flenor said. “We came out and really executed on the floor.”
The Airedales, who reached the 5A State Championship Game last season, started quickly behind most of its holdovers from last season — including returning starters Lee and Anderson. Flenor was also happy with the play of first-time starters Wight, Jake Folkerts and Braylan Parker.
“I was pleased with our three new starters and I believe our depth is going to be important, too,” Flenor said. “That’s something that can be really positive for us down the stretch.”
Alma led 17-4 after Lee and Anderson hit back-to-back 3-pointers with 3:03 left in the first quarter.
But the Bearcats, who were led by Phillip Lance’s 16-point effort, closed to within six at 17-11 after one quarter.
Alma wasted no time getting hot in the second quarter, however. The Airedales scored 21 points in the first four minutes and built a 47-22 lead after three quarters.
The Airedales’ bench accounted for most of the second half scoring, with backups Shane and Sean Siler accounting for eight points. In all, the Alma reserves scored 23 points.
Mena 71, Alma 57 (Women’s)
Mena girls basketball coach Scott Wright didn’t deviate from his plan of attack Tuesday. And, even as Alma built a 26-16 lead with five minutes to play in the first half, Wright’s Lady Bearcats kept pounding the ball inside.
Junior Jacqelyn Johnson scored 17 points and Madison Sherrer added 14 to power Mena to the win.
“We’ve got some things going on that we’re trying to set in stone,” Wright said. “We’re trying to do a better job of being mentally tough, and you can’t constantly change offenses because that’s not going to fix it. We’re trying to stay the course, and I thought we did a pretty good job of that tonight.”
The win offset Alma senior Robin Stewart’s 30-point effort.
“That first game you play, you can’t get into game-shape practicing,” Alma coach Madelyn Flenor said. “We’re little and we’re quick and we want to run, but when we had to play five-on-five, it didn’t matter at the offensive end or the defensive end, we’re not as good.”That’s something we’re going to get better at.”
Alma (0-1) led by as many as nine points after Darian Dyer’s free throw with 3:37 to play in the first half.
But Mena (2-2) caught fire and outscored Alma 25-9 to take a 35-28 lead with 1:07 to play in the half. The Airedalettes trailed 37-32 at halftime and were within two early in the third when Mena went on another run to take a 49-37 lead on Sherrer’s basket.
Sophomore Cassie Cochran hit a 3-pointer for Alma, but Mena’s Samantha Pearson hit a 3-pointer to extend Mena’s lead to 52-43 at the end of three.