BENSON — Basketball season may only be halfway through but Friday’s boys basketball game between Benson and Willcox had a playoff-like atmosphere.
The Bobcats defended their home court with a 50-48 win in overtime to improve to 7-1 on the season. Benson led through the first three quarters but Willcox battled its way back in the fourth quarter.
Joendy Ruiz knocked down a bucket with 32 seconds left in the game to give the Cowboys a 46-45 lead, their first since the first quarter. Aiden Finch made one of his two free throws with 17 seconds to tie the game 46-46. That’s how regulation ended, forcing overtime. Willcox out-rebounded Benson in the second half, which helped the Cowboys into overtime.
Ruiz scored the first bucket of the four-minute overtime with 2:05 left for a 48-46 lead. Devin Bowling stole the ball and made a bucket to tie the game 48-48 with 1:27 left. Bowling then drove to the basket and made the layup with four seconds left give the home team the 50-48 lead. After back-to-back timeouts, Willcox attempted to in-bound the ball. Tristan Martinez deflected and stole the inbound pass to secure the win for the Bobcats.
Bowling led the Bobcats with 16 points while Finch and Martinez chipped in with 11 each. JJ Lunt led the Cowboys with 16 points, 10 of which he scored in the first quarter. Ruiz had eight points in the loss.
Prior to the boys game, the girls took the court. Benson defeated Willcox 53-8. Before the game, the Bobcats recognized their five seniors: Emily Darwin, Seneca Wilson, Kayla Sherman, Jennifer Barker and Allison Hackett.
Shaylin Taylor led the Bobcats with 11 points. She scored eight points in the first quarter. Emily Darwin and Celina Wilharm had nine points each and Ally Jenkins chipped in eight points.
The girls hold an 8-1 overall record.
Tuesday’s rankings have the Benson girls as the No. 7 team and the boys as the No. 5 team in the 2A Conference.
Both teams return to their home court on Feb. 23 when they host St. Augustine.