If Maumelle wanted to make the last week of 4A-4 conference play exciting, it succeeded.
The Hornets’ last two games at home were close ones with Maumelle (17-9) defeating Dardanelle, 61-58, and Subiaco, 61-56. With the victories, the Hornets finished conference play with a 13-1 mark and are co-champs with Pottsville. However, they take the number two seed into this week’s district tournament.
"We were practicing winning close games," Coach Michael Shook joked. "Dardanelle was significantly better than the first time we played them, and I knew we would have distractions (senior night)."
In the first meeting, Maumelle defeated Dardanelle, 66-28. Subiaco is always tough as the Hornets won by three (54-51) in the first meeting, and the Trojans also played Pottsville close last week. Against Dardanelle, sophomore JB Minix was the only double digit scorer with 16 points. Junior Kendall Donnerson was the leading scorer against Subiaco with 17 points. Sophomore Tyshun Robinson added 13 and freshman Shawn Williams chipped in 11.
Against Dardanelle, the Hornets were down 19-6 after the first quarter. A 26-5 run in the second period gave them a 32-24 halftime margin. Although Maumelle never trailed again, the second quarter was the only period they outscored Dardanelle.
"They handled our press well and shot well," Shook said. "Their coach said all year long they have had trouble scoring, but they shot much better against us. We usually shoot around 50 percent, and we were just a little over 36 percent."
District play began Monday at Booneville, and Maumelle gets a bye until Thursday. The Hornets will meet the winner of last night’s Booneville-Waldron game at 5:45. With four teams advancing to regionals, the top two conference teams already secured a spot to the regionals to be held at Maumelle. Although the Hornets and Pottsville are co-champs, Pottsville notched the number one seed because of points. However, Shook likes the Hornets’ spot.
"The Pottsville coach and I were talking to clarify the seeds, and we both agree the number two seed seems to be easier," Shook said. "Subiaco is number four and played Pottsville to within one last week."
The hard part about this week is the teams are playing each other for the third time. One thing Shook is doing in practice this week is working on some set plays the Hornets installed early in the year but got away from using going into the motion offense. He wants the Hornets to have backup plays if necessary.
While Maumelle already has a spot in regionals, Shook is expressing to his players the difference between the number one and two seeds and the number three and four seeds from the 1A. That is the motivation to win this week.