CAC loses in quarterfinals

Central Arkansas Christian basketball coach Matt Hall said before the state tournament started that his team was playing with “free money.”

The money ran out Saturday afternoon in the Class 3A state tournament quarterfinals as Harding Academy won 55-43.

It was a game billed on the streaming broadcast as the “Church of Christ state championship” as both schools are affiliated with that denomination.

That wasn’t the only connection.

Hall played at Harding University and was a star there and in the school’s athletics Hall of Fame.

Harding Academy coach Brad Francis has been in various roles at the school in Searcy for going on three decades and all his sons played at Harding University as well.

None of that mattered to the players on the court though, and CAC couldn’t get over the hump Harding Academy created after running out to a 14-8 lead in the first quarter. CAC had its moments and got as close as five points, but it wasn’t enough/

CAC finished the season 16-8, and with its first state tournament win since 2015 that put them in the quarterfinals, while Harding Academy is now 19-7. 

They’ll play at 7 p.m. on Monday against the winner of McGhee/Waldron at Clinton.

The other semifinal is already set and will be Lamar against Mayflower.

The state finals are at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 18 at Hot Springs.

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