Dollarway head coach Ellis Berry wanted his senior players to go out as winners in their last home game Tuesday night over Batesville Southside.
The toughest part was sealing the victory.
“We were in control of it,” Berry said, whose team won 45-36. “I just wanted to see my other guys play a little bit.”
The victory gave the Cardinals 12 conference wins with one game remaining. The Cardinals with travel to Clinton this Friday in the regular-season finale for at least a share of the 2-4A Conference regular-season title.
“They were not a bad team because they went to Marianna and beat them,” Berry said. Marianna is third in the conference at 6-4.
Dollarway (21-2, 12-1 in 2-4A Conference) has won four straight after losing to conference co-leader Lonoke on Jan. 24.
In a game that was decided early, the Cardinals’ intense defense forced five Southside turnovers that helped start a 14-6 run in the first quarter. Berry’ team went into the locker room with a 20-8 halftime lead.
The goal for Southside (2-10 in 2-4A) was to pull off an upset after winning their last two games that included a victory over Marianna last Friday night.
“That’s hard to do because your playing a pretty good team to do that,” Southside head coach Brad McGhee said. “We were able to that on Friday night at Marianna, trying to the same thing here tonight, didn’t work out.”
Nicholas Dickson led the Cardinals with 11 points.
The Cardinals led by as many as 19 points before easing up in the fourth quarter. They started the third quarter on a 9-0 run, along with a couple of comedic highlight dunks.
“We want the game fast,” Berry said. “We know our shots are still not falling but we can get turnovers on the defensive end.”
McGhee said he was proud of his team’s effort in the third quarter after trailing 29-14 midway. Southside cut into the deficit on back-to-back three-pointers by Jacob Rawlings and Taylor Ellis with 58 seconds remaining.
Southside began to climb back into the game late in the fourth quarter. Stephen Norris hit two three-pointers with 1:02 left to play to shrink the Cardinals’ lead to 41-36.
The Cardinals played without leading scorer Davonne Chapman due to a suspension. Chapman is expected to return this Friday.
Norris led Southside with 14 points and Rawlings added eight points.