Bearcats win state title, qualify for nationals

The Arkansas Bearcats, formerly known as the Arkansas Cardinals, won the ninth-grade Division II basketball state championship this past weekend.

On Saturday, the Bearcats lost their first game in pool play, 73-69, to the Arkansas Warriors (Jacksonville). The Bearcats were led by Devonta Harkless scoring 24 and Devonta Dilworth 10 and 8 steals.

The Bearcats routed Arkansas Family 72-54 in their second game with five players in double figures.

In a win-or-go-home game on Saturday night, Carl Turner Jr. hit the game-winning shot with 1.3 seconds remaining in regulation just above the arc to give the Bearcats a 73-70 victory over the Arkansas Tropics.

The win advanced the Bearcats to Sunday’s semifinal round against the Arkansas Warriors (Little Rock).

In Sunday’s semifinal the Bearcats blew out the previously undefeated Warriors (Little Rock), 73-51. Brandon Thompson II led the Beacrats with 24 points, while Cadarious Bagget added 17 and Keshawn Whaley chipped in with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

The championship game was a rematch of the Beacats’ opener with the Warriors (Jacksonville). This time the Bearcats came out on top, 73-70, in a triple-overtime thriller.

Dilworth hit a three-pointer at the end of regulation to send the game to overtime. Bagget led the Bearcats with 20 points, followed by Caleb Parker, and Harkless with 15 apiece.

With the victory, the Bearcats qualified for the ninth-grade Division II nationals, which will be held in Little Rock in July.