Basketball: Weather shuffles CAC schedule

Despite the weather, Central Arkansas Christian’s basketball teams should finish the regular season this week.

Both Steve Quattlebaum and Matt Hall’s squads expect to have the respective top seeds from the 3A-6 conference for the 3A Region 3 Tournament the week of Feb. 22. League coaches decided to skip the district tournament and send the top four teams from the round-robin schedule straight to the regional.

Girls

After a player tested positive for Covid-19 and the ensuing team quarantine last week, Steve Quattlebaum’s squad was scheduled to finish the regular season against Palestine-Wheatley on Thursday night and Dollarway on Friday.

The Dollarway game is still on for 4 p.m. on Friday but Palestine-Wheatley has been moved to 1 p.m. on Saturday. At least that’s the plan, all things being weather permitting.

After the Dollarway contest was postponed from last week, the Lady Mustangs had to play in masks on Tuesday, but they won at DeWitt, 56-39, to improve to 16-0 overall and 13-0 in 3A-6 play.

Quattlebaum said the face coverings didn’t appear to bother his team.

“We actually played really well, especially in the first half,” he said. “We jumped out to a good start.”

The Lady Mustangs built leads of 22-8 after one quarter and 36-11 at the break. The Lady Dragons shaved eight points off that margin in the second half.

“We got a little sloppy in the third quarter, but we finished it off pretty good,” Quattlebaum said.

Senior star Bethany Dillard had played in a mask against Episcopal earlier in the season after being exposed to the coronavirus, but this marked the first time the whole team had donned the coverings.

“It didn’t seem to bother them much,” the coach said. “We practiced in them Monday, and we’ll have to play in them the rest of the week.”

Against DeWitt, Dillard led the Lady Mustangs with 24 points, five rebounds, three assists, three steals and three blocks. Riley Bryant added 18 points, 12 rebounds, two steals and a block.

Playing without Dillard, CAC beat Palestine-Wheatley in the first meeting, 58-30; and Dollarway, 78-15.

“That Dollarway game was one of our better shooting nights of the year,” Quattlebaum said.

Episcopal will have the league’s No. 2 seed to the regional at 18-5 overall and 11-2 in conference play. At press time, Helena-West Helena Central stood 12-5 and 9-4; DeWitt was 15-7 and 8-5. Palestine-Wheatley was 9-14 and 6-8.

The 3A-6 will be matched against the 3A-5 in the regional. Quattlebaum said those qualifiers would likely include Mayflower, Dover, Atkins, Lamar or Baptist Prep.

Boys

A win against Palestine-Wheatley on Saturday would give Hall’s boys team the league’s No. 1 seed.

The Mustangs knocked off Palestine-Wheatley in the first meeting last month, 62-28.

CAC is 12-6 overall but 10-3 in league play, tied with Jacksonville Lighthouse (16-6 overall) and Helena-West Helena Central (11-6). The Mustangs hold the tiebreaker over both. Dollarway fell out of the tie for first with a loss to CAC last week. The Cardinals stand 10-7 and 9-4.

The regional will pit the 3A-6 against the top four teams from the 3A-5. That league will play a district tournament next week, but at press time, the top four were Mayflower (18-1, 13-1); Baptist Prep (17-4, 12-2); Lamar (11-2, 15-4); and Jessieville (10-11, 6-8). Mayflower and Baptist are scheduled to play this week for the conference championship.

The top four teams from the regional will advance to the Class 3A State Tournament, so the Mustangs would just need one win to reach state.

“Baptist and Mayflower are both in the top 10 in the state, so if we can avoid them (in the opening round), which we should be able to do, we would be in good shape,” Hall said.

He said last week’s 41-23 win against Dollarway was key.

“That was a big one,” he said. “Dollarway did a really good job in the first half defensively. They made us shoot from the outside, and we didn’t do a very good job making shots.”

The Cardinals led after one quarter, 8-3; and at halftime, 12-9. The Mustangs rallied to lead after three quarters, 24-21, before winning the final period, 17-2, to secure the 18-point win.

“In the second half, we picked up where we left off against Helena (last week),” Hall said. “We played really well.”

Andrew Haughaboo’s 11 points led the Mustang offense. He added two rebounds, two steals and an assist. Karsen Richard added 10 points, six rebounds, four assists and a block.

Heading in, Dollarway had won six straight.

The Mustangs then beat DeWitt on Tuesday, 53-39.

“That’s a tough place to play,” Hall said. “I wouldn’t say we played extremely well. I never thought we were in trouble, but we didn’t play as well as we’d like. But of course, any time you can win on the road is good.”

The Mustangs led after one quarter, 15-11; at halftime, 29-19; and after three, 38-29.

Jackson Richmond led CAC with 18 points, six steals and three assists. Richard added 13 points, four rebounds, an assist, a steal and a block. Steven Massey had 11 points, 11 rebounds, two assists and a steal.

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