In a battle of Panthers at Panther Arena, Benton got the best of Cabot 61-51 in the final of the Cabot Pre-Holiday Tournament.

Benton turned a close 40-35 lead into a more controlling 50-35 lead in the first two minutes at the start of the fourth quarter.

Cabot (2-4) outscored Benton 16-11 the rest of the way, but the damage had already been done to the tournament host.

"We played hard and got better this week," said Cabot coach Jerry Bridges. "But those Benton guys are bigger, stronger and faster than we are. That’s a good team."

A 12-2 run by Benton in the second quarter gave the Panthers a 29-18 lead. Junior Blake Bowlin scored eight of those points, but didn’t score again in the game. Seniors Graham Gardner and Rickey Gipson carried the load down the stretch for Benton.

"Benton did a good job not allowing us to dictate the pace," Bridges said. "We have to be able to play our way and they didn’t let that happen."

Gardner finished with 13 points, 12 rebounds and six blocks. While Gardner didn’t block all of Cabot’s shots, he did make virtually every Panther who entered the paint alter their shot.

"He’s good and he’s 6-9, while our biggest guy is 6-3," Bridges said. "What can you do down there?"

Brett Frazier led Cabot with nine points, all coming in the fourth quarter. Frazier was 5 of 5 from the line in the fourth.

"Brett Frazier had a really good fourth quarter and that’s big for us because we need him down there," Bridges said. "He and Jake Ferguson haven’t been out of football very long and they’re still getting into basketball shape. I think those two will be able to help us out a lot."

Cabot committed 14 turnovers compared to just five for Benton in the second and fourth quarters, the periods where Benton pulled ahead.

"I thought Bryan Shrum did an excellent job against their press," said Bridges. "I think they may have worn him down a little bit by the end of the game and that cause a few of those turnovers."

Shrum was right behind Frazier in scoring with eight points. Clayton Vaught and Hunter York each had seven points, while Kyle Thielemier added six points. Ryan Stafford and Michael Smith scored five points apiece. Ferguson finished with four points.

Cabot made it to the finals by defeated Watson Chapel 41-39 and Vilonia 38-25.

Against Chapel, York led the way with 14 points. Smith and Frazier had nine points and Thielemier five in the win. Shrum and Stafford each finished with two points.

Smith and Shrum led Cabot’s win over Vilonia with eight points each. Stafford scored six points, Thielemier five points and Vaught four in the win. Frazier finished with three points, while Ferguson and York each had two points.