No back-and-forth, right-down-to-the-wire showdown here. But it was a battle for first place in the 8-4A Conference.

No back-and-forth, right-down-to-the-wire showdown here. But it was a battle for first place in the 8-4A Conference.

Dollarway held defending conference champion McGehee to single-digit scoring in each of the first two quarters and picked up a 61-39 victory Friday night at Dollarway Fieldhouse. The Cardinals (15-4, 6-0 in 8-4A) improved to 6-0 at home as they wrapped up a four-game homestand.

“We came out with the intensity up,” said Dollarway senior forward Jamal Burton, who led all scorers with 17 points and pulled down eight rebounds. “We knew we had to play as a team, and that’s all we’re going to do the rest of the season.”

Kabion Ento and Josh Liddell each had 10 points for Dollarway. What was more for the Cards: They slowed down McGehee’s leading scorers.

Forward Zack Ellis led the Owls (11-5, 5-1) with 10 points and nine rebounds, but point guard Dontez Racy, who had 20 or more points in two previous games this week, was held to four as Dollarway used a Box-and-1 defense to key in on him. Deondrai Haynes and Cue Rose each added eight points.

“We wanted to make the game fast,” Cards coach Ellis Berry said. “We knew what we had to do. We had to stop (Racy); that was the main goal. Once we took him away, we had the game won because everything goes through him.”

Dollarway also denied McGehee’s post men a lot of touches while the Owls struggled to move the ball against a zone defense and struggled to finish shots off the dribble with Nathan Nowden protecting the paint. Nowden had four blocks for the Cards.

The Cards also benefited from points off turnovers caused by their relentless full-court press.

“They (Cardinals) got a good group. We just didn’t play no ball,” Owls coach Jerome Pace said. “Defensively they ran a Box, which we knew they were going to run, but it shouldn’t have been enough to affect us. They were physical; we didn’t get physical with them. They got second and third opportunities, and they won the ballgame.”

The Owls never led, trailing 17-6 after the first quarter and 28-13 at halftime. Once they fell behind by double digits, they never came within any closer than 21-10.

Burton scored seven of Dollarway’s first 10 points of the second half, as the Cards led by as much as 37-14. But Haynes knocked down a three to start an 11-2 run and pull the Owls within 39-25, their last serious threat of the game.

Ento, who came off the bench, scored eight of his 10 points in the second half, including a pair of threes to quiet the Owls. The sophomore also had three steals and four rebounds.

“We just wanted to get the ball up and make them play fast-tempo with us,” Ento said. “They couldn’t play with our style. We got up, and we made our shots.”

Dollarway was only 20 for 60 from the floor, but held a 30-20 rebounding edge over McGehee, which shot 14 for 29.

This was McGehee’s third game in four days and second in as many nights. McGehee knocked off Desha County rival Dumas 53-46 and is now just a game ahead of the Bobcats for second place.

Pace said coming off a big game Thursday didn’t affect the Owls against the Cards.

“It’s always this way when we come to Dollarway, but they’ve got to come to McGehee,” Pace said. That rematch is set for Feb. 14.

GIRLS

McGehee 53, Dollarway 20

Monie Stinyard scored 15 points in the first game and finished with a game-high 19 points in leading the Lady Owls (9-5, 4-2 in 8-4A), who stayed in third place in the conference with the win. Callie Beasley also scored 12 points for McGehee.

Aaliyah Jackson led the Lady Cardinals (0-16, 0-6) with 10 points.