Basketball: CAC set for showdown at Helena

A 10-day holiday break looks to have been just what the doctor ordered for Central Arkansas Christian’s Mustangs.

Coming off that hiatus, Matt Hall’s squad knocked off Jacksonville Lighthouse on Tuesday to set up a conference showdown on Friday at Helena-West Helena.

CAC is 5-3 overall; the Cougars are 4-2. Both are atop the 3A-6 conference standings at 3-0; thus, a Mustang win would be huge. 

“We’d have beaten Lighthouse and Helena, two of the better teams in the league,” Hall said.

“Helena beat Lighthouse by five; we beat Lighthouse by five, so I expect that to be not only an important game but a good game.

“I think we’ll be OK. They’ve got a big 6-6 kid in the middle, but our Karsen Richard is a big guy and playing really well, and we’ve got some other good players. I think we match up pretty well.”

Richard, a 6-4 senior, recorded 33 points, 16 rebounds and two steals against Lighthouse.

With Covid complications, there were no tournaments over the holiday break, so Hall said he prescribed the 10 days off with no practices.

“But the practices coming back after the break were as good as any I’ve ever had,” he said. “These kids have been at it non-stop. Football season ended on a Friday, and those players joined us the following Monday. The others have been practicing with us since August. They go year-round.

“I really think that break was good for everybody, because when we came back, everybody was refreshed and excited to be back. To have 10 days off with time for family I don’t think was a bad thing.”

The Mustangs fell behind by 12-8 after the first quarter but led at the break, 20-19. Lighthouse claimed a 42-37 lead after three quarters before CAC rallied for the 67-62 win.

“In the first half, it looked like neither team had played in a little over 15 days,” Hall said. “In the second half, Lighthouse played really well. They’ve got some big, athletic kids. It was a good high school basketball game.”

Andrew Haughaboo added 11 points and Jackson Richmond 10 for CAC.

The Mustangs will travel to Dollarway (2-5, 1-2) on Tuesday, Jan. 12.

“We’re in the middle of an important stretch,” Hall said. “Dollarway played Lighthouse relatively close, so I imagine they’ll be really similar to Lighthouse and Helena. We’re going to play three of the four best teams in the league right off the bat, which is fine. That gives us a feel for where we are and where we need to go.”

Lady Mustangs

Steve Quattlebaum’s Lady Mustangs improved to 6-0 overall and 3-0 in 3A-6 play with a 62-31 victory over Jacksonville Lighthouse on Tuesday, their first action of 2021.

They’ll travel to Helena-West Helena, also 3-0, on Friday.

“They’re probably a little bigger than we are, and they’re pretty athletic,” Quattlebaum said of the Cougars. “It should be a good matchup. We haven’t played them in four or five years, but they gave us a couple of pretty good games, and the same coach (Kevin Pringle) is coaching them.”

He said the agenda for his team after the holiday break would be to get the rust off and get into the routine of twice-weekly conference games.

“We need to see if we can’t gel a little bit and work on substitution patterns,” Quattlebaum said. “We’ve got five or six sophomores we’re trying to build some depth with. It’s been a little hectic not knowing every time if or when you’re going to play. We’ve just got to monitor and adjust, like we do in education.”

CAC rolled over Lighthouse, building leads of 23-9 after one quarter, 38-17 at halftime and 58-22 after three.

Bethany Dillard led the Lady Mustangs with 28 points, three rebounds, three assists and three steals. Riley Bryant added 12 points and nine rebounds.

CAC will travel to Dollarway (0-8, 0-3) on Tuesday.