Har-Ber Survives

With former UA great Joe Kleine and new UA Board of Trustees member John Tyson looking on, Razorback signee Nate Rakestraw's Har-Ber team has just enough to hold of UA football signee Jake Bequette's Little Rock Catholic squad 49-44 in in Class 7A state tournament quarterfinal action.

SPRINGDALE - It was a game that featured a pair of Univerity of Arkansas signees in different sports, a potential third one and a crowd that included both one of the school's all-time hoop greats and the newest member of the Board of Trustees.

In the end, the No. 1 team in the state simply survived.

Razorback basketball signee Nate Rakestraw and P.J. Shannon each netted 15 points as top-ranked Har-Ber scored the last eight points of the game to down Little Rock Catholic 49-44 Friday night in quarterfinal action of the 7A state tournament.

"They were pretty much scoring at will," Rakestraw said. "We knew we had to get a stop and the next three series that's just what we did. It was all free throws after that and we were just able to knock them down."

UA football signee Jake Bequette (6-5, 255) – showing off the old-school hook shot - led Catholic (11-14) with 17 points and put his team ahead 44-41 with just under three minutes left in the game.

But Har-Ber's foul-plagued Michael Sanchez – the third potential Razorback signee playing in the game – cut it to 44-43 with a pair of free throws with 1:47 remaining.

Catholic – with former UA basketball star Joe Kleine watching his son Daniel play – had three shots, but missed all three and Har-Ber then took the lead 45-44 on the double-teammed Sanchez' pass to Ryan Bunch for an easy lay-up with 51.5 seconds remaining.

Rakestraw then netted two free throws – he was 8-of-9 from the line in the game – and John Tyson, Jr. – son of the UA's newest Board of Trustees member – netted a pair with 15.5 seconds left to cap the scoring.

Ironically, Har-Ber (23-5) – who has not lost to an in-state team with both Rakestraw and Sanchez in the lineup - won despite trailing 7-2 at the end of the first quarter and with Sanchez scoring just 8 points while grabbing 9 rebounds.

"If you had told me we would have won a state tournament game with Mike scoring just 8 points, I would have told you that you were crazy," Har-Ber head coach Eric Burnett said. "But P.J. kept us in it early and both John Tyson (5 points) and Ryan Bunch had some big plays left."

Har-Ber, who advances to play Saturday night at 7:30 in the semifinals against either Rogers or Little Rock Central. A win there would push the Wildcats into a championship game the following week in Hot Springs.

It sure didn't look like a win was in the cards early on when Har-Ber came out way too tight.

"We were a little too excited," Rakestraw said. "We finally started getting into the floor of the game."

Har-Ber steadied itself enough to take a 15-14 lead at halftime and 33-31 at the end of the third quarter.

Still Catholic looked poised to pull off what would have been a monumental upset.

"It was just an unbelievable team effort," Bequette said. "That was just the essence of senior leadership and never say die attitude. We left everything out there. They just made a few more plays down at the end of the game."

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