5A STATE BASKETBALL: White Hall’s late rally not enough against Alma

White Hall junior Jai'Chaunn Hayes carries the ball Tuesday as the Bulldogs face Alma in the 5A state boys' basketball tournament in Searcy. (Pine Bluff Commercial/Tanner Spearman)
White Hall junior Jai'Chaunn Hayes carries the ball Tuesday as the Bulldogs face Alma in the 5A state boys' basketball tournament in Searcy. (Pine Bluff Commercial/Tanner Spearman)


SEARCY – White Hall fought back in the fourth quarter Tuesday night, but the deficit was too much to overcome.

The White Hall boys' basketball team fell 51-60 to Alma in the opening round of the Class 5A state tournament in Searcy.

White Hall coach Josh Hayes said the Bulldogs made some uncharacteristic mistakes.

"I just think it was the stage," Hayes said. "I think it was the lights. This is our guys' first time being here. Probably theirs, too, but they just looked a little bit more comfortable than we did."

White Hall (14-16) trailed 53-37 early in the fourth quarter but rallied with a 10-1 run. Jai'Chaunn Hayes, Jordan Rasberry and Jacoby Edwards all scored during the run.

Alma (21-9) shut down the Bulldogs' run, responding with a 6-2 run of their own to put the game beyond reach and advance to the second round.

Hayes said the Bulldogs' full-court press helped generate the near comeback.

"We ran and jumped them, trapped them a little bit, and we got a little momentum," Hayes said. "Honestly, we tried to do it earlier in the game. They did a good job of handling it. We were forced to do it. We played with a little bit of, I guess, concern. We played like it meant something. We did what we really should have done all game. We just figured it out a little too late."

Part of the reason Alma, the Conference 5A West champions, had the lead was a run of 3-point shots. The Airedales connected on seven 3-pointers in the first half and led 35-29 at halftime. The Bulldogs adjusted and held them to two in the second half, both coming in the third quarter.

Hayes said defending Alma's 3-point shooters was a big part of the scouting report, and the Bulldogs didn't follow it well enough in the first half.

"So, that was really frustrating, because that was our game plan to not let them have any open looks, and we got guys right there with their hands down," Hayes said. "So, it's super frustrating, because we let them get a groove.

If we don't let them get this groove and get comfortable in the first quarter, this game is probably different."

Alma junior Israel Towns-Robinson led the Airedales with 17 points, while Miles Kendrick scored 15.

Jai'Chaunn Hayes led the Bulldogs with 17 points, but 15 of those came in the first half. Edwards added 12, Rasberry scored 11, and Ivan Armour scored 9.

This was the first trip to the state tournament for these Bulldogs. White Hall loses four seniors but has six juniors coming back next season. Hayes said though the Bulldogs lost, this experience will be beneficial for the returning players.

"They better remember it, because I told them I been to a state tournament, I went 2-1," Hayes said. "We got put out in the semifinals, and I still have nightmares. So hopefully, they can remember this the entire summer. When you don't want to fight through workouts, you remember getting put out when you're not feeling well. I think losses are also lessons."


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