Central jumped out to a 10-0 advantage, but the Bulldogs from Arkansas responded with an impressive 22-2 run and never trailed again in taking a 56-42 win.
Fayetteville, playing nearly 14 hours away from home, advanced to Saturday’s quarterfinal against Mountain Brook of Alabama.
“We haven’t practiced much since it’s the holidays. We got down and we went to the huddle and took a collective sigh,” Fayetteville coach Brad Stamps said.
“We knew we’d get back in it. I was really proud of the way we fought. During that run, a lot of guys made different plays.”
Junior big man Tamaury Releford powered Fayetteville by posting a double-double of 12 points and 14 rebounds.
Elijah Hayes led the Warriors with 11 points and Jordan Bishop threw in 10.
Senior sharpshooter Isaiah McAmis had one of his worst nights shooting the ball, going 3-for-16 from the field and 1-for-8 from the perimeter. He finished with seven points for Central.
“(McAmis) is a really good player and a handful,” Stamps said. “He’s going to take tough shots and he’s going to make some of them. We challenged our point guard at the shootaround and he stepped it up on defense.”
The Warriors wanted the game in the open court and got what they asked for after going up early. However, several costly turnovers in the first half allowed Fayetteville to get back in the game and build confidence.
“We’ve played several teams that put quite a bit of pressure on us on defense already, and they were the best so far,” Central coach T.J. McAmis said of the Bulldogs. “Our biggest problem was that we always wanted to pass it back out on the perimeter instead of looking inside. They got us to where we couldn’t execute anything.”
Central did make a late run and cut its deficit to four with under five minutes to go, but Bryson Wright’s 3-pointer pushed it back to seven, 48-41, and the Warriors got no closer.
Central fell into a losers’ bracket matchup with Tennessee High on Saturday. The loser of that game meets Hampton in a consolation game Tuesday.
“We showed a lot of poise. We battled back and I was very pleased with our effort,” Coach McAmis said. “We’ll get better and we’ll get used to better defenses.”
Hampton 58, Tabernacle Baptist 56
Matt Hughes’ 3-pointer with 2:49 left to play broke a 51-all tie and Hampton survived in the consolation bracket.
“That was huge,” Bulldogs coach Ned Smith said. “He’s a very confident player and he wasn’t getting a lot of looks because they were guarding him so close. He’s a good shooter for us.”
With 6.7 seconds left, the Falcons’ Isaiah Braynen took the ball the length of the floor but missed a running layup along the baseline as time expired.
Hampton withstood missing 4 of 6 free throws in the last minute of the game.
“I didn’t know who could make one,” Smith said. “I thought we got it to our best shooters and we had to play really hard today and yesterday. It wore us down and I think that contributed to those missed free throws.”
Hampton became the first team from Carter County to win a game in the Arby’s since 2010 when the Bulldogs beat Alaska’s Wasilla 58-44.
Hampton opened the game with back-to-back made 3-pointers by Hughes and Jordan Bentley.
“It was really important for us to get a good start,” guard Conor Jones said. “Especially after yesterday, we needed that to get our confidence up and knock down shots.”
Hampton stayed hot and shot 43.4% in the first half, nailing four shots from beyond the arc. Bentley had 12 by halftime and 20 to close the day.
Hampton’s 32-26 halftime lead evaporated in a hurry, though. Tabernacle tied the game just 87 seconds into the third quarter on a live-ball turnover by the Bulldogs that turned into points on the other end.
Tabernacle never led though it did force several ties in the fourth. The team from the Bahamas had multiple chances to take the lead but missed the free throw each time the opportunity presented itself.
Mountain Brook 75, Tennessee High 56
It’s been a decade since Tennessee High won an opening-round game in its own tournament and the drought continued this year.
The Vikings were up 32-30 at halftime and playing nearly flawless against a well-coached Mountain Brook team before the bottom fell out.
The Spartans came out of halftime and went on a 7-0 run as part of a 20-3 third-quarter charge that featured brilliant ball movement and spot-on shooting.
Xavier commit Colby Jones had a scare at the start of the fourth when he went down with what appeared to be a leg injury. He got up under his own power and later returned to the court, finishing with a game-high 25 points.
Holt Bashinsky had 18 and Carter Sobera 13 for Mountain Brook.
Mchale Bright led Tennessee High with 16 points and Aidan Carter had 11.