Central Arkansas Christian’s Lady Mustangs were 4-0 on the young season Tuesday when they welcomed LISA Academy for their Mustang Mountain debut.
Steve Quattlebaum’s team won the First National Bank Shootout at Paragould over the weekend, knocking off Van Buren in the opening round, 53-41; Brookland in the semifinals, 55-38; and Nettleton in the championship, 63-43.
But the Lady Mustangs had a tougher time Monday at Riverview, where they escaped, 66-61.
“They played really well, and we were probably feeling a little too good about ourselves,” Quattlebaum said. “We were really kind of fortunate to win. It’ll pay off for us at the end. It was good practice — if we learned from it.
“It’s kind of hard to see the positives after a game like that, but the bright spot is we didn’t have to take a loss to learn a good lesson.”
CAC was in control most of the game, leading by 10 points until the Lady Raiders hit a 3 in the final seconds of the third quarter. Riverview then took a one-point lead down the stretch, but the Lady Mustangs got a steal from freshman Bethany Dillard and made enough free throws to preserve the win.
“We missed a lot of free throws,” Quattlebaum said. “We didn’t really play that well, but they had a lot to do with that. They were pretty aggressive on the offensive end.”
Christyn Williams, the Connecticut signee, led the Lady Mustangs with 32 points. Dillard added 11.
The game was CAC’s fourth in five days.
Quattlebaum said the Lady Mustangs had played “about as well as we could play” in the Paragould tournament. Going in, he said he wasn’t sure what to expect since several players had been hampered by illness or injury. Senior Jenna Davis, in fact, was slowed by strep throat for the first two games.
“I kind of kiddingly — but not entirely — said it was possible we could lose all three games,” he said. “We really exceeded my expectations.”
Against Van Buren, the Lady Mustangs raced out to a 17-7 lead after the first quarter and extended it to 29-16 at halftime. The Lady Pointers pulled within 39-32 after three, but CAC won the fourth quarter, 14-9, to settle for the 12-point win.
“That was the closest game from start to finish of the tournament,” Quattlebaum said. “They’re a pretty solid team. They’re a (Class) 7A team that’s been in some tough games. They’ve got a kid going to Belmont, and we held her to one 3-pointer. She had eight (3s) in the next game.”
Against Brookland, CAC again built big early leads — 16-4 after one quarter and 34-15 at halftime. The Lady Mustangs led after three quarters, 46-31, before finishing, 55-38.
“We started out pretty good and led by 15 or 20 most of the time,” Quattlebaum said.
Against Nettleton, the Lady Mustangs rolled again. They again built an early lead, 16-9 after the first quarter, and were up at halftime, 30-17. Heading into the final period, CAC was on top, 48-25.
“We slowly took control and stretched it out to 25 at one time,” Quattlebaum said. “Nettleton is an extremely good team. They’ll be the favorite in (Class) 5A. They’ve got three or four Division I players, including one who’s already signed with (Arkansas State). We made them look very average. We had one of our best defensive efforts in years.”
Williams scored 38 in the final and hit “some unbelievable shots,” Quattlebaum said.
“I think she was close to or over 30 in all three games,” he said. “Bethany Dillard had 17 against Van Buren. With Jenna sick, she was a big key to that win.
“Alexa Mashburn really played well. (Point guard) Kelson Miller never scores much, but she’s really valuable to our team as far as leadership and taking care of the ball, just being who she is out there on the floor.”
The Lady Mustangs are off until Friday, Dec. 1, when they will travel to Mayflower.