HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Junior Jabari West is the main reason Hot Springs still has a chance of playing in the 5A state basketball tournament, which will be held at Hot Springs High School.
The 6-7 West scored 21 points, pulled down 21 rebounds and blocked 5 shots Monday night at the Trojan Arena to lead Hot Springs past Texarkana Arkansas High, 57-48.
The Trojans are now tied for fourth place in 5A South with Texarkana. If both win their final regular season games Wednesday night, there will be a three-way tie between those two and El Dorado. Only the top four teams advance to the 5A state tournament. Hot Springs will host Lakeside, while the Razorbacks must journey to Pine Bluff.
“I can’t say enough about Jabari,” said Hot Springs coach Antoni Lasker. “He makes us a totally different team. Missing him the first eight or nine conference games was huge. Having him back gives us confidence that we can beat anybody, no matter what their ranking or seeding.
Hot Springs in state tournament conversation
“It was frustrating in the first half not getting back in transition against Texarkana. We gave up way too many easy buckets. After making some adjustments, we were able to get back and defend. That was huge making them earn their points. Now we have to win Wednesday to be in the state tournament conversation.”
Arkansas High trailed by 15 at one point in the first half. It cut that lead to two points in the third quarter on a 3-pointer by Kyron Young.
Andie Reed, usually a starter, came off the bench to lead Arkansas High with 13 points. Young and Mason Cornelius scored 10 each for the Razorbacks.
Hot Springs is 12-13 on the year and 6-7 in league play, while the Hogs are 13-10 and 6-7.
Neither team shot to ball particularly well Monday.
“This was just one of those games,” said Lasker. “Every year you have one or two games where the kids just can’t put the ball in the hole for whatever reason. You could attest it to the fact we played three games in six days. Everybody is tired and beat up this time of the year. You just have to push through and battle. We did a good job of that tonight.”
Senior guard Jaylyn Walker was the only other Trojan to score in double figures with 16 points.