Har-Ber did everything it could to claw back into the game Friday, but it could not overcome a hot start by Van Buren and 6-foot-9 center Mitchell Smith.
Smith finished with a double-double as the Pointers raced to a 13-0 lead in the first five minutes of the game en route to a 48-39 7A/6A-West win.
“There were two keys tonight,” Van Buren coach Randy Loyd said. “The run at the start of the game was huge. Our defense, though, played well all night long. I told our guys that I had not seen a team defend like that in a long time. (Har-Ber) got some 3s at the end of the game, but we held them to 39 points.”
Smith had 10 rebounds and numerous blocks to go along with his game-high 20 points.
“Any time Mitchell comes out and plays like he did means we have a chance,” Loyd said. “He takes away the inside on defense and when he scores early, he opens up shots for our guards.”
Smith scored seven points in that initial run and nine points in the opening quarter as Van Buren (12-2, 2-1) led 18-6. After that, the Wildcats (9-6, 1-2) were in a constant catch-up mode.
“Ninety-nine out of a 100 times, I would probably call a timeout,” Har-Ber coach Scott Bowlin said. “We wanted to see if they could fight through it and they showed me tonight they can’t. I lose them, they win ′em.”
Har-Ber had chances as its defense held the Pointers to just two points in a 10-minute stretch of the second half after falling behind 32-19 early in the third quarter. All the Wildcats could do, though, was cut the advantage to eight at 34-26.
Six free throws by Van Buren in a two-minute stretch, including four from Smith, and the lead was back up to 40-26 with 3:11 left.
“It’s hard to get in any kind of rhythm when the game was so fragmented,” Bowlin said. “Give Van Buren credit. We’ll be ready for them when they come to Har-Ber.”
Jason Harms added 16 for the Pointers. Mason Cline scored 18 to pace the Wildcats.
Har-Ber 62, Van Buren 45 (Women’s)
The Lady Wildcats (12-4, 2-1) scored the first 16 points of the game and looked like they were ready to cruise to the easy victory. However, Har-Ber coach Sandy Wright liberally substituted reserves into the game after opening a double-digit lead and Van Buren (5-9, 0-3) chipped away at it .
The Lady Pointers scored 17 of the game’s next 20 points and it was a game at 19-17 with 2:49 left before halftime. Lexie Jones hit a pair of 3-pointers to fuel the run.
The Lady Wildcats, though, finished the half with an 11-3 run of their own to retake control of the game, 30-20. Har-Ber then dominated the third quarter, fueled by a 15-6 run, for a 54-33 lead going into the fourth.
Bailey Schalk led Har-Ber with 14 while Paige Redmond added 10. Kaylee Sheppard scored 10 to lead Van Buren.