By TED RADICK
ARLINGTON — For 29 minutes Thursday, Arlington’s Seth Newlove was a happy basketball coach.
The last several minutes, not so much.
Arlington held a 16-point lead on McComb late into the fourth quarter, and weathered a late Panthers comeback to post a 58-52 victory in a Blanchard Valley Conference girls basketball game.
“They did to us at the end what we like to do to other teams,” Newlove said after the Panthers forced a bevy of Arlington turnovers and closed the game on a 10-0 run. “We took care of the ball pretty well most of the game and were sloppy at the end. We lost our poise a little bit and panicked.”
It wasn’t what Newlove wanted to see after his Red Devils (10-2, 4-1 BVC) had played well in building a 58-42 advantage with three minutes to go in the game.
“We talked about it; the girls admitted that they panicked a little bit. We need to do a better job of both relaxing and being aggressive. We weren’t aggressive.”
Undermanned McComb (7-5, 3-2 BVC), with just seven players in uniform, cranked up the defensive pressure at the end but may have simply run out of gas.
“I told the girls how proud I was that they scrapped, and at least made it look like a close game,” McComb coach Jeremy Herr said.
The short roster forces the Panthers to play heavy minutes.
“It hurts, and they took advantage of it,” Herr said. “Full advantage of it. Seth coached a good game. That was how he could take advantage of us, and he did.”
Arlington ended the first half on a 9-4 run to push a 27-24 lead into a 36-28 halftime advantage. With more bench depth, the Red Devils, ranked No. 9 in the initial Associated Press Division IV poll, got inside for layups and putbacks and drew some fouls that often happen when opposing defenses get tired.
“We have a good bench this year, and we can use our depth more than we have in the past,” Newlove said. “We wanted to get it inside and wear them down a little. We wanted to push on them, on (Emily) Clymer especially, and get them tired.
Arlington’s bench outscored McComb’s 24-9.
“We saw a glimpse of that. They’d get tired and we’d stretch the lead, and we did that at a couple points in the game.”
Dani Heaster worked inside for a layup, Haley Dillon drew a pair of fouls and hit three free throws and Whitney Dodds slipped inside to follow up on an offensive rebound to close the half.
“Our bench helps us out a lot this year. We really benefit from it, and it’s something we’re privileged to have,” said Heaster, who led Arlington with 15 points.
McComb trailed throughout the second half but never quite lost sight of the Red Devils. A lot of that was because of Clymer, who had game highs of 23 points and 10 rebounds.
“They were really scrappy at the end,” Newlove said. “I want to watch the film; we’ve handled pressure really well this year and we just didn’t tonight.”
Clymer had nine points and three rebounds in the fourth quarter as the Panthers clawed their way back into the game.
“She’s a good player, and she really put it to us tonight,” Heaster said. “We really focused on stopping her tonight, and she just went right through us.”
McComb may have to get used to the underdog role with its short bench. The Panthers have no junior varsity team, and two players on the varsity roster are out with injuries.
“It’s definitely tough with such a little team, but we push really hard,” Clymer said of McComb’s lack of depth. “We’re small but mighty. We’re always close in the games we lose. We just need to push more; we’re right in it most of the time.”
McComb (7-5, 3-2 BVC)
Herr 1-2″”4, Clymer 8-7–23, Buck 3-0–9, Hammond 0-0–0, Reigle 1-0–2, Hemminger 2-2–6, Dee 3-2–8. TOTALS: 18-49 13-15–52.
Arlington (10-2, 4-1 BVC)
Alexander 2-0–6, Mains 3-0–8, McMath 0-0–0, Nichols 4-3–11, Dodds 2-3–7, M. Johnson 0-0–0, H. Johnson 2-0–4, Heaster 7-1–15, Dillon 2-3–7. TOTALS: 22-47 10-13–58.
McComb 13 15 9 15 — 52
Arlington 16 20 12 10 — 58
3-Point GOALS: McComb 3-11 (Buck 3); Arlington 4-16 (Mains 2, Alexander 2).
rebounds: McComb 27 (Clymer 10); Arlington 22 (Dodds 9).
turnovers: McComb 25, Arlington 27.
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