Central Arkansas Christian’s Lady Mustangs didn’t help themselves much in last week’s 7-4A District Tournament, but they have a chance at redemption in the Class 4A South Regional this week.
CAC (23-6), which finished runner-up to Malvern in the conference race, fell to Bauxite in the semifinals of the district tournament, 54-48. But Steve Quattlebaum’s girls team beat Ashdown, 53-45, to earn the No. 3 seed for the regional.
That was crucial, as Ashdown, the fourth seed, must face Star City (22-4), No. 1 from the 8-4A and ranked third in one statewide newspaper’s Class 4A rankings, in the opening round of the regional.
CAC gets Monticello, No. 2 from the 8, in Thursday’s 4 p.m. first-round match. A win there would put the Lady Mustangs in the Class 4A State Tournament next week at Cave City.
"They were in Class 5A with us last year," Quattlebaum said of the Lady Billies. "They got to the semifinals of the state tournament, but they lost a bunch of seniors. They’ve got one senior and a bunch of sophomores. They’re really athletic and they play hard, but they’re kind of young. It ought to be a good game for us."
He said although it would be a challenge, he thought his team was the better one.
"Certainly we have more experience, but their one senior, a post, is a really good player," he said. "If she plays well, she could beat us."
The other first-round games feature Malvern, No. 1 from 7, against Warren, No. 4 from 8; and Bauxite, No. 2 from 7, against Dumas, No. 3 from 8.
Should CAC prevail against Monticello, the Lady Mustangs would move on to Friday’s 4 p.m. semifinal against the winner of Malvern and Warren. After having lost twice to Malvern during the conference round-robin, the Lady Mustangs would dearly love a third chance against the Lady Leopards.
Malvern handled Bauxite in the district championship after losing to the Lady Miners in the second meeting of the regular season.
"They’re playing real well," Quattlebaum said of the Lady Leopards. "It would be a good test for us to play them again. We wanted to play them in the district tournament, but we’ll take it in the regional. But we’ve got to take care of business first."
The regional championship is set for 6 p.m. Saturday with the third-place game scheduled for noon.
As the conference runner-up, CAC drew a first-round bye for the district tournament at Bauxite but faced the host team — which it had already beaten twice — in the semifinals.
"We didn’t play very well," Quattlebaum said. "Sydnie Jones was a little sick, and Falan Miller had been a little sick. We didn’t play very well at all, but they had a lot to do with it. They hit big shots all night long. And as poorly as we played, we still had a shot at the end."
Jones led the Lady Mustangs with 12 points. Kendall Krueger added 10, Miller nine and Sarah Butler eight.
But the Lady Mustangs bounced back in the third-place game against Ashdown. Quattlebaum said the 7-4A was the only conference to require a consolation game, but for his team, it worked out. CAC prevailed, 53-45.
"We still didn’t play a great game," he said. "We were up three at halftime and seven after three quarters. We got up over 10, but they hit some shots at the end to make it closer."
Miller and Jones led with 17 points each. Butler added 14.
"That’s more like what it should be," Quattlebaum said.