CONWAY — Jonesboro braced for one Test out of Central Arkansas, winning another on Tuesday night.
Deion Buford-Wesson, Philip Tillman and Isaac Harrell combined for 51 points as the Golden Hurricane exited the Buzz Balding Arena with an impressive 62–45 victory over Conway.
Buford-Wesson led with a career-high 25 points for No. 4 Jonesboro (19-3, 4-1 6A-Central), who set up for Friday’s showdown at No. 1 Little Rock Central with a thorough display.
“He was fantastic,” Jonesboro coach Wes Swift said of his senior quarterback. “He kind of supported us. When he hits the ball well, he is such a strong defender.
“[Tuesday]he got to the counter a few times, and hell, that will put pressure on some of the defenses as we move forward.”
Buford-Wesson’s teammates Harrell and Tillman helped keep the wampa cats on their heels. Harrell finished with 16 points and Tillman 10 as Jonesborough shot 20-of-38 (52.6%) with just eight assists.
“Golden Hurricane” after the break also squeezed their rivals on the defensive. After shooting 12 out of 25 (48%) in the first half, Conway (13-8, 2-3) has made just 5 of 23 (21.7%) field goals in the last 16 minutes, including 2 of 11 (18, 1%) in the third quarter, the Wampus Cats lost 16–5.
Colin Thompson scored 21 points for Conway, which is 17 out of 48 (35.4%).
Jonesboro trailed 5–4 early, but Tillman’s 3-pointer started the series 10–0 to give the Hurricanes a nine-point lead with two minutes left in the first quarter, but Conway had the answer.
Traveon Safford’s pullback kicked off a six-point streak that saw the Wampus Cats close to 14-11 by the end of the period. Conway then scored 10 of the first 16 points in the second quarter to take a 21–20 lead after Matthew Grimes was leaner with 3:40 left in the half.
This was the last time Jonesborough fell behind.
Buford-Wesson scored five straight points during a 7–2 series and later threw a pair of interceptions that led to buckets, helping the Golden Hurricane hold a 32–29 halftime lead.
Jonesboro will take full control in the third quarter. After a runner from Caleb Moody cut the Wampus Cats’ deficit to 36-31, the turning 8-foot Harrell started an 11-0 surge. Conway missed six shots in a row during that run and never fully recovered.
“Our attack on the paint opened Isaac’s eyes,” Swift explained. “When we move him around the perimeter, he does not get a place. But when the ball hits the paint, the teams split up and then he gets space.
“Our whole mentality is to attack the paint, attack the paint, attack the paint, and we’ve done a good job of that.”
Devarius Montgomery also had 8 points, 6 rebounds and 3 steals for the Golden Hurricane, who will now turn his attention to the best Tigers. Central (20-3, 5-0) beat Little Rock Southwest 71-39 on Tuesday.
“Central puts pressure on you all the time,” Swift said. “They don’t worry too much about getting into a scoring game with you because they feel like they can beat you in points. I don’t think they were being guarded the way we are guarding them, but at the same time, I don’t think we were being pressured the way they are going to pressure us and just keep on pedaling, attacking, attacking, attacking.
“We need to be in attack mode and not let them attack us all night.”