By Todd Wills
Corsicana Daily Sun
Navarro’s point guard combination of Harrison Hawkins and Johnathan Benn brought it home for the Bulldogs Wednesday night.
Hawkins made five more 3-pointers and scored 19 points, and Benn scored six of his eight points in the second half as Navarro held on for a 59-51 victory over a talented Trinity Valley team.
Hawkins and Benn played together for a crucial eight-minute stretch in the final 10 minutes, one of the first times this season they’ve been on the court together. Trinity Valley outscored Navarro by five points during that eight minute, 13-second stretch, but the Runnin’ Bulldogs were playing with the lead and needed to protect the ball.
“We needed two ballhanders out there,” Navarro coach Johnny Estelle said. “We had to grind this one out.”
Navarro (19-5, 11-2) regained its two-game advantage over Tyler and Kilgore in the conference standings with six games to go. Tyler lost to Kilgore 54-45 on Wednesday night.
The Runnin’ Bulldogs outlasted Trinity Valley by not turning over late and by making key steals with a 54-51 lead with 4:16 let. Toney Foster, who had three steals, made one with just over three minutes left. It turned into two free throws for Hawkins for a 56-51 lead with 2:36 left.
Navarro turned up the pressure, not allowing a point the rest of the way. They had deflections and key stops.
“Those plays were big,” Estelle said. “We need those kind of plays to win. That’s how we win. This was a good group effort. We played 15 players.”
Navarro led 46-29 with 14:34 left in the game, but Trinity Valley put together a 9-0 run sparked by Octavius Ellis, who scored five of his 17 points during the stretch.
The Cardinals were able to work down the lead to three on Ellis’ free throws with 4:16 left. But Navarro’s defense denied Ellis the ball with Foster and Jamar Goodwin working against him.