GRAVETTE -- The Lions roared with Gravette hunting a conference win in its brand-new arena the Cardinals ran right at them circumventing home-court advantage and winning by a 64-51 score Feb. 5.
In the wild, male lions, which possess majestic manes, incredible strength and ferocious roars strategically locate themselves and roar not for the sake of expressing freedom of speech but purposely to incite fear. It's a well-designed trap. Animals thinking they're escaping from those roars become prey by running right into a pack of lionesses waiting in ambush.
Coaches try to replicate that in boys basketball trying to rattle opponents especially in front of a home crowd with full-court pressure and half-court traps. Yet, teams which win conference championships as the Cardinals did last season, can be successful in such an environment simply by exercising the proper technique on how to defeat lions on the hunt.
Farmington (16-4, 9-1) held onto first place in the 4A-1 West Division by running to the roar instead of allowing the Lions (14-7, 6-4), who came into the contest third in the West a half-game behind Prairie Grove, to isolate and trap them.
Gravette had some success early using a 9-4 run to capture a 9-6 lead beginning with two baskets by 6-feet-7 Tristan Batie. Farmington tied the game when Caleb Blakely hauled down an offensive rebound and found Roman Carlson open on the left wing for a 3-pointer. The teams battled back and forth with Gravette taking a 17-14 lead at the end of the first quarter when Batie blocked a shot then got down-court and hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
The Lions led for the next 3:56 with Batie scoring 12 of their first 19 points. Johnny Dunfee finished a baseline drive and David Duke got down-court ahead of everybody.
Farmington coach Johnny Taylor inserted physical defender James Payne and the senior helped hold Batie to only two points for the rest of the game.
With defense solidified, the Cardinals answered with a 7-0 run getting treys by Carson Simmons and Carlson to move ahead 27-25. Duke's free throw broke the run, but Farmington scored 11 of the next 13 points including back-to-back trifectas from Layne Taylor and a Layne Taylor dish to Simmons, who took one dribble sideways and knocked down a three as the second quarter horn sounded with the Cardinals leading 38-28.
In the last two minutes of the third quarter Farmington put some distance between themselves and the Lions with an 8-2 run bookended by strategic 3-point shots. Layne Taylor turned a steal into a fast-break opportunity and Simmons was open as a trailer. Layne Taylor busted a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to cap the quarter with Farmington owning a 51-36 lead.
The Cardinals led by as many as 17 points in the fourth and Gravette got no closer than 11 on Cordell Donnell's free throws with 1:14 to go. Layne Taylor and Simmons combined to make 4-of-4 free throws sealing a 64-51 victory.
Farmington shot 53 percent from the field to 43 percent for Gravette. The Lions struggled behind the 3-point line making just 17 percent, while the Cardinals blazed away at 53 percent. Farmington made 8-of-10 free-throws for 80 percent while Gravette made 16-of-21 for 76 percent.
In the rebounding department, Farmington held a 26-19 advantage over Gravette. The Cardinals racked up 16 assists to 10 for the Lions. Farmington had 3 steals, and Gravette 5. The Cardinals blocked 3 shots while Gravette had 1.
Farmington 64, Gravette 51
Farmington (16-4, 9-1): Carson Simmons 8 3-4 22, Layne Taylor 7 4-4 22, Roman Carlson 3 0-0 9, Caleb Blakely 2 1-2 5, James Payne 1 0-0 2, Nathan Monroe 1 0-0 2, Decory Thomas 1 0-0 2. Totals 23 8-10 64.
Gravette (14-7, 6-4): Tristan Batie 5 3-4 14, Cordell Donnell 3 4-4 10, Johnny Dunfee 4 2-2 10, David Duke 3 4-7 10, Jake Carver 2 2-2 6, Brady Hunt 0 1-2 1. Totals 17 16-21 51.
3-Point Goals -- Farmington 10 (Layne Taylor 4, Simmons 3, Carlson 3), Gravette 1 (Batie).
Rebounds -- Farmington 26, Gravette 19. Assists -- Farmington 16, Gravette 10. Steals -- Farmington 3, Gravette 5. Blocks -- Farmington 3, Gravette 1.