Central Arkansas Christian’s Lady Mustangs put together their best performance of the Summit Bank Spa City Shootout in Hot Springs on New Year’s Eve, and coach Steve Quattlebaum hopes the trend will continue in 2013.

CAC started a busy week 11-4 overall, 1-1 in the 7-4A. The Lady Mustangs, who finished third in the Hot Springs tournament by knocking off Hot Springs, 63-59, in the consolation bracket, faced Bauxite on Tuesday and will play host to Arkadelphia on Friday and Nashville on Monday before traveling to Ashdown on Tuesday, Jan. 15.

"We played probably our best game of the tournament," Quattlebaum said of the finale. "(In the earlier games) we were not finishing off the second quarter. We’re not playing well right now, but we’ve had some years when we’ve peaked a little early, and I hope this year we’ve still got a lot of improvement to do."

Against Hot Springs, Sarah Butler hit two free throws with 7.8 seconds left to secure the win. Sydnie Jones led CAC with 32 points, 17 rebounds and four blocked shots. Falan Miller scored 12 points. Butler had nine points, 10 assists and seven rebounds.

Quattlebaum, whose team dropped to Class 4A after four years in Class 5A, said it was important for his team to finish first or second in the conference race because those two automatically earn a berth to the regional tournament, regardless of the district tournament results.

Conference wins this week would go a long way toward that goal.

"Arkadelphia should be one we win, but they played Lake Hamilton, who beat us, really good," Quattlebaum said. "I saw the Nashville girls early in the year. They’ve got two pretty good players, but they’re another team we probably should beat. We’re probably more talented than they are, but if we’re not playing up to our capabilities, they could beat us. And Ashdown is the same way."

CAC lost its conference opener to Malvern, which started the week having won 15 consecutive games. But Quattlebaum sees potential for his team to grow. Chloe Elkins, a junior forward, gained her eligibility for the Hot Springs tournament, and he hopes Rachel Mina, a 5-9 junior, will be cleared from a shoulder injury within a couple of weeks.

"We’ve still got pieces of the puzzle we’re missing, so if we can get them added, that will give us a lot of room for improvement," he said.