Monk's 42 Lifts Bentonvile To Title Game

Bentonville junior Malik Monk - one of the nation's top 2016 prospects and a prime Arkansas recruiting target - goes off for 42 points and 11 rebounds as Bentonville downs Van Buren 63-48 Monday to lead the Tigers into Saturday's state championship game against two-time defending champion North Little Rock.

SPRINGDALE - In a not-so-surprising development on Monday afternoon, Bentonville junior Malik Monk went off on a basketball court.

Monk - one of the nation’s consensus five best 2016 prospects - poured in 42 points and 11 rebounds as he led the Tigers to a 63-48 win over Van Buren in a Class 7A state tournament semifinal round game at Springdale Har-Ber High School.

“It was a pretty good night, yes sir,” Monk understated after the game. My teammates set me up well and I just capitalized on what they gave me.”

Monk hit just hit 3 of first 10 shots from the field for the Tigers (21-5) before beginning to take over a game that lifted his team to its first state championship game ever.

“I just had to get in the lane more and my teammates were getting me involved way more than they were,” Monk said. “We just came out with a win and a big victory.”

Bentonville head coach Jason McMahan knew his star would get it rolling sooner than later.

“It is just all a matter of attacking the basket for him,” McMahan said. “If he attacks, he is the best guard in the country. When he just shoots threes, he is just one of the best guards in the country.

“My message to him was just attack, attack, attack and he started doing that and he is unstoppable when he does that,” McMahan added. “It his athleticism, it’s his finishing skill and his mobility that makes him unstoppable.”

The Tigers will now face two-time defending state champion North Little Rock Saturday at 11 a.m. at Hot Spring’s Summit Arena in the Class 7A state title game.

KeVaughn Allen had 33 points and hit two free throws with 5 seconds left to lift the Charging WIldcats over Fayetteville 66-65 in the other semifinal where Fayetteville junior Payton Willis had 23 to lead his team.

“This is the first time in school history and me and my teammates have worked hard for this,” Monk said. “We just left it all out there. We are not finished until we get the championship.”

Van Buren’s Mitchell Smith - who like Monk has an offer from Arkansas - had 18 points and 12 rebounds in a loss that ended the season for the Pointers (24-6), who had won 18 of their last 19 games.

The two - along with Willis - will play together this summer for the Arkansas Wings.

“He (Smith) works hard and he is a great player,” Monk said. “He is like a 7-footer so it will be good to have a 7-footer around. He just works hard and I like his game.”

Monk and the whole Van Buren team had actually both scored 36 points at one point in the contest.

He doesn’t care who Bentonville gets in the final, just that it made it to the title game.

“We have played like the toughest schedule in Arkansas and we have seen a lot,” Monk said. “They both are nice teams.”

North Little Rock knocked the Tigers out of last season’s state tournament.

. “For us, we’re excited and it is the first time in school history to be in the state finals and it something that where we just can’t wait for the opportunity," McMahan said. “At the start of the season, it was one of the things that we wanted and now we want to finish it out."

Monk had 18 in the opening half, but Bentonville led just 26-25 at intermission.

But the Tigers outscored the Pointers 18-3 in the third quarter.

“I think we quit fouling,” McMahan said. “That would go back to our positioning on defense. We just got into a lot better position to make plays initially and I think limiting them to one shot was a big thing.”

Mitchell Smith

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