Central Arkansas Christian’s basketball teams will have first-round byes for next week’s 3A-6 District Tournament.
Steve Quattlebaum’s Lady Mustangs are 16-7 overall and 9-1 in conference play heading into tonight’s game at Palestine-Wheatley (2-15-2, 2-6-2), which will conclude the regular season on the court. They’ll pick up three forfeits (two from Dollarway and the first from Palestine-Wheatley) to cover the 14 conference games.
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CAC should tie Episcopal Collegiate for the conference championship. The Lady Wildcats are 17-5 and 11-1 with games with Helena-West Helena Central (11-4-2, 7-3-2) and Lisa Academy West (2-10, 2-9) on Thursday and Friday, respectively.
The two split their meetings, CAC winning the December matchup, 44-40, and Episcopal prevailing over a covid-short Lady Mustang squad in January, 46-18.
Based on those scores, Episcopal will have the No. 1 seed and CAC the second for next week’s district tournament at Episcopal. They’ll both have a first-round bye and will open play on Wednesday. With the byes, both CAC and Episcopal have qualified for the regional tournament, which will be played the week of Feb. 21 at Lamar. First-round winners there will qualify for the Class 3A State Tournament at Harrison.
“Things have gone a little better than last year,” Quattlebaum said. “We didn’t get all our conference games in, but DeWitt got after us pretty good in both games this week. We needed that. We’ll be ready to get after it in the district tournament.”
The Lady Mustangs won at DeWitt on Monday, 50-26, and beat the Lady Dragons at Mustang Mountain on Tuesday, 53-25.
In the first game, CAC jumped out to a 15-6 edge after one quarter and extended it to 34-9 at halftime and 44-17 heading into the fourth quarter.
Riley Bryant led the Lady Mustangs with 17 points and five steals. Livian Burton added 12 points,eight rebounds, five steals, three assists and one block; Stella Smith had six rebounds and one block. Reese Shepard handed out four assists.
Tuesday’s game was similar. The Lady Mustangs led by 18-8, 36-17 and 51-20 heading into the final period.
Ava Knoedl led the stat sheet with 22 points, five rebounds, four deflections, two assists and one steal. Bryant added 20 points, five rebounds, two deflections, two blocks and one steal. Shepard had four rebounds, four assists, two deflections and two steals; Burton notched five rebounds and two steals. Smith and Carleigh Petlak recorded three steals apiece.
“Ava’s playing better lately,” Quattlebaum said. “Riley’s doing well, and Livian Burton has been playing really well. Reese Shepard has been pretty steady at point guard.
“We feel pretty good going into the tournament. We’re definitely getting a little better, but (the post-season) is going to be a challenge.”
Matt Hall’s boys are 15-4 overall and 9-2 in conference play with games at Palestine-Wheatley on Thursday, Dollarway on Friday and Mustang Mountain against Dollarway on Saturday to finish the regular season.
Episcopal Collegiate is 14-7 and 10-1 heading into Thursday’s game against Helena-West Helena Central (11-7-1, 5-6) and Friday’s game against Lisa Academy West (1-11, 1-10).
The top two teams will have first-round byes to next week’s district tournament at Episcopal.
Earlier this week, the Mustangs knocked off DeWitt on the road, 55-38, and at Mustang Mountain, 57-45.
In the first game, CAC led after the first quarter, 22-12; at halftime, 36-20; and after three quarters, 47-32.
Andrew Haughaboo paced the Mustangs with 16 points, seven rebounds, four steals and two assists. Steven Massey added 13 points and three assists; Sam Maddox had 11 points and two steals. Grayson Wilson notched six rebounds, three steals and two assists.
Tuesday’s game started a little closer, with CAC leading 17-12 after one quarter, but the Mustangs took charge, 31-20 at halftime and 45-29 after three.
Four Mustangs scored in double figures: Wilson, 15; Massey, 14; Haughaboo, 13; and Maddox, 11. Wilson notched a double-double, adding 15 rebounds, one assist and one steal. Haughaboo added eight assists and five steals; Massey had six assists and three steals; Maddox recorded two steals.
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