Central Arkansas Christian’s Lady Mustang seniors aren’t shying away from their ultimate goal.
The post-season begins this week for Steve Quattlebaum’s team, led by a special senior class.
“I feel like we’re playing pretty well,” Quattlebaum said Sunday. “They’re pretty focused on making this the season. They talk about it. I try not to talk about it.”
A state championship is about the only thing missing from the resumes of seniors Christyn Williams, Jenna Davis, Kelson Miller and Alexa Mashburn
When they were freshmen, the Lady Mustangs lost in the Class 4A state quarterfinals to Star City. As sophomores, they finished fifth in the conference but reached the state championship game, where they fell to Riverview for the fifth time that season. As juniors last year, they appeared to be marching back to the final before suffering some late-season injuries, including one to Williams, who signed with Connecticut in November.
“They’ve been there, but they didn’t win it,” Quattlebaum said. “We could’ve been there a couple more times. But this year, if we can stay healthy, I feel pretty good about it.”
CAC entered this week’s 2-4A District Tournament at Riverview 27-1, having lost only to Conway, one of Class 7A’s best, in December.
The Lady Mustangs, ranked fifth overall and atop Class 4A, according to Sunday’s Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, opened the tournament Tuesday with a win and CAC advanced to Thursday’s 4 p.m. semifinal against the survivor of No. 4 eStem against No. 5 Southside Batesville. More importantly, a semifinal finish ensures a berth to the Class 4A East Regional at Lonoke next week.
“We’ve just got to go out and take care of business,” Quattlebaum said. “If we play the way we’re capable of playing, we’re in good shape every night. That doesn’t mean you can’t get beat, but I’m trying to tell them we’re really good.
“We’re ranked in the top five out of all the teams in the state, and we’re probably deserving of that. A lot of times teams with gaudy records can get in that top 10 overall and not be deserving. We’ve been there before.
“But this team is deserving, I think.”
The bottom half of the district tournament bracket included second-seeded Lonoke against No. 7 Heber Springs and No. 3 Riverview against No. 6 Helena-West Helena Central in quarterfinal games Tuesday. Those winners moved on to Thursday’s 6:30 p.m. semifinal.
The district championship is set for 6 p.m. Saturday with the consolation game (for regional seeding purposes) scheduled for 3 p.m.
For the second consecutive season, CAC swept through its conference schedule undefeated. The Lady Mustangs have won 36 consecutive conferences games.
The Lady Mustangs won two games last week by a combined 142-53, beating Joe T. Robinson, 85-38; and Baptist Prep, 57-15.
Against Robinson, the Lady Mustangs leaped out to a 34-8 advantage after one quarter. They led at the break, 52-26 and after three quarters, 70-30.
Williams led CAC with 24 points. Davis added 23 and Miller 13.
The Lady Mustangs got off to another quick start on Senior Night Friday against Baptist Prep, leading after the first quarter, 24-7, and extending that advantage at halftime to 40-7. CAC led after three quarters, 47-13.
Williams led again with 20 points. Davis added 14.
“Senior Night went really well,” Quattlebaum said. “They all played well and they all had fun. They’re a special group. There’s an uncommon bond among them. They’ve played together an awful lot over their lives — and it’s not just basketball. They’ve played softball and soccer. They have quite a connection.”
To go out with a state championship would seal it forever.