Central Arkansas Christian’s Lady Mustangs went a long way toward a runner-up finish in the 7-4A conference race with three wins last week.
Steve Quattlebaum’s team beat Pulaski Robinson, 50-35; handled Bauxite, a team that had knocked off league-leading Malvern the previous game, 57-47; and rolled at Ashdown, 56-36, to improve to 20-5 overall and 10-2 in conference play.
Entering the week, Malvern had one loss and Bauxite three. Ashdown, Nashville and Arkansas Baptist were vying for the fourth spot.
The top two teams earned byes to the district tournament semifinals next Thursday at Bauxite and with that, berths to the regional tournament — one win shy of the Class 4A State Tournament.
The Lady Mustangs played at Arkadelphia, which they beat the first time, 54-17, on Tuesday and will finish the regular season Friday when Ashdown visits Mustang Mountain for Senior Night.
"I told the kids earlier Malvern is by far the best team in the conference, probably, although not as far as we’ve allowed them to get away from us when we’ve played them," Quattlebaum said. "If we play really well, we’re close to them, but we haven’t played a good game against them yet. Maybe we can if we get them in the district tournament.
"It’s a long season. Malvern is really good, but they were really good the first two weeks of the season. It’s taken us a little while, and we’re still waiting on some pieces, but we had a lot more room for improvement than Malvern did, so we hope we’ve improved a lot since the last time we played them."
Against Robinson last week, CAC went up 16-4 after one quarter, 30-9 after two and cruised from there. Sydnie Jones scored 16 to lead the Lady Mustangs. Sarah Butler added 13 and Falan Miller 11.
"We got to play a lot of people," Quattlebaum said. "Butler’s been playing a little better lately."
Against Bauxite, CAC again got off to a good start, scoring 21 points in the first quarter and holding the Lady Miners to 10.
"Then we got outscored nine in the second quarter, so it was a two-point game at halftime," Quattlebaum said. "They had a girl who scored 17 and hit four 3s. They shot the ball pretty well. We showed a lot of poise and outscored them in the second half, 28-20."
Jones scored 30, despite hitting just six of 16 from the foul line. Miller added 11 points and handed out several assists.
"Jessica Saunders stepped up and hit a couple of 3s and had nine points," Quattlebaum said. "Any of those points we get from someone who’s not Miller, Butler or Jones are big for us."
At Ashdown, CAC again took a big early but let up a bit in the second half and had to build on a four-point halftime lead. Jones had 19 points; Butler added 14, including four treys; Miller added 10.