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All the details aren’t yet known, but both Central Arkansas Christian teams will play Wednesday for their chance to reach the Class 3A State Tournament.
Steve Quattlebaum’s Lady Mustangs (17-0, 14-0), the top seed from the 3A-6, will meet Lamar (17-6, 9-5), fourth from the 3A-5, at 4:30 p.m. in the opening round of the Class 3A Region 3 Tournament at Episcopal Collegiate. A win would move CAC to the regional semifinals, with all four semifinalists advancing to the Class 3A State Tournament.
Matt Hall’s Mustangs (13-6, 11-3), top seed from the 3A-6 in the boys tournament, will face the loser of tonight’s 3A-5 District Tournament game between Jessieville (11-12, 6-9) and top-seeded Mayflower (19-2, 13-2) in the opening round of the regional at CAC at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.
That first-round regional win would put the Mustangs back in the state tournament for the first time since 2015.
Jessieville, the fifth seed in the 3A-5 after the regular season, beat No. 4 Atkins in Tuesday’s opening round, 62-38. The Lions kept the Mustangs out of the state tournament last year with a regional win, so a revenge match could be coming.
“They’ve got two of their best players back from last year, and they’ve been solid all year, so if we play them, it will definitely be a good ball game,” Hall said. “I like our chances, but we need to play well. And it’s at home. We’re much better at home.”
The Mustangs last played Feb. 13.
“We didn’t do anything last week during snowpocalypse, but we’ve had really good practices this week,” Hall said. “I said this after Christmas, and I’ll say it again — I don’t think a week off last week was a bad thing. The kids came back energized; they’re not worn out and bored with practice.”
In the final week of the regular season, CAC knocked off DeWitt, 53-39; and Palestine-Wheatley, 65-30. Jackson Richmond’s 18 points led the Mustangs against DeWitt; Karsen Richard and Steven Massey added 13 and 11 points, respectively. Richmond added six steals; Massey had 11 rebounds.
Against P-W, Andrew Haughaboo scored 26 points in 25 minutes. Tyler Williams added 11 points.
The 3A-6 did not play a district tournament. After CAC, league seeds for the regional are Jacksonville Lighthouse (17-6, 11-3); Helena-West Helena (12-6, 11-3); and Dollarway (11-7, 10-4).
In the girls regional, the other 3A-6 seeds are Episcopal Collegiate (20-5, 12-2); DeWitt (16-7, 9-5) and Helena-West Helena (12-6, 9-5).
“We just have to beat Lamar,” Quattlebaum said of the Lady Mustangs’ regional assignment. “They’re kind of a young team. They play several sophomores. They shoot the ball well and are extremely well coached.”
Two years ago, CAC beat Lamar in a regional final, when the Lady Mustangs faced primarily a zone defense.
“But they’re mostly a man team now,” Quattlebaum said. “They’re really sound and really well coached. The kids are used to winning.”
In their last action, CAC beat Palestine-Wheatley, 55-16. Bethany Dillard had 19 points, five rebounds, five assists and two steals. Livian Burton added nine points and nine rebounds.
The Lady Mustangs haven’t played since Feb. 13.
“We desperately tried to find some games for this week, and we had a couple of options, but they just didn’t work out,” Quattlebaum said.
He said while he’d never experienced such a long layoff during a season, it hadn’t necessarily been a bad thing.
“We had some good practices this week and a chance to really work on some things,” he said. “Ava (Knoedl) is back now and looking good. We’ve worked on conditioning because they sat for a week (last week) and didn’t have any games. I really like the way we’ve spent our time.
“We’ve gotten better this week.”
Typically, the same school would host the regional tournaments for the boy’s and girl’s teams but this hasn’t been a typical season, so CAC is headed home and away next week as regionals get started.
CAC’s boy’s won’t leave the comfy confines of Mustang Mountain as they’ll be hosting the Region 3 tournament.
The bracket can be viewed by clicking here.
The Q Crew hits the road, but won’t be going far as the girl’s regional will be played at Episcopal Collegiate.
The regional bracket can be viewed by clicking here. The 3A state tournament will be at Clinton.
All tournaments were pushed back a week because of wintry weather and Covid cancellations.