Matt Busch conducted Watson Chapel’s boys basketball practice Wednesday not entirely sure whom his Wildcats will face next.
As originally scheduled, it’s a team from Tulsa, Okla., at 6 p.m. today in the Zebra Invitational at Pine Bluff High.
“We’re not sure who to prepare for, but it’s a blessing because you can prepare yourself,” Busch said.
One game from the original schedule has been dropped today as bad weather apparently had an effect on one team’s travel plans. Brinkley will not come to town today, and Pine Bluff elected to drop a game, leaving Dollarway vs. Dumas at 4:30 p.m., followed by Watson Chapel vs. Tulsa McLain.***
If the Wildcats get to play all three days, that’s three more days Busch’s team gets to prepare for 5A-South Conference play. At 4-5, they’ve had their struggles early on.
“The last three games, we’ve had 64 turnovers,” Busch said. “That’s not very good. A lot of that is coming from inexperience and teams pressuring us, not even in the full-court sets but in the half-court.”
Watson Chapel has only one returning starter from last season in junior guard Tevin Brown. He and junior post Ben Marcus are leading the Wildcats in scoring, although Busch was unsure of the exact averages.
Along with limiting turnovers, Busch hopes the Wildcats can use their Invitational games to improve on finishing games and overcoming or stopping big runs by the opposition. In two of their losses, they led by 10 points in the fourth quarter.
Like Busch, Pine Bluff interim coach Carl Smith sees much room for improvement in his own ballclub, which is 4-4 and coming off a 53-51 defeat at Dollarway on Friday.
“There’ll be teams coming in with different styles, so we’ll see how we can adjust on defense and what we need to accomplish on defense,” Smith said. “We’ll know what to improve on, and hopefully we can do that these next three games.”
Now, it’s only two games for Pine Bluff.
Dollarway (8-1), which is 1-1 against Dumas this season, may be the hottest team going into the Invitational with an eight-game winning streak, but even the Cardinals have some weaknesses they hope to straighten out this week.
“We need to get a lot more consistent on our shot selection from three-point range,” Cardinals coach Ellis Berry said. “At times, they’re hitting but at times they’re not.”
Dollarway’s offense overall is coming along, but its defense has been key in all its victories, Berry said.
“Everybody’s coming together as a team,” he said.
Southeast Arkansas Holiday Tournament
The Southeast Arkansas Holiday Tournament, hosted by Drew Central this year, has one change on its schedule.
Little Rock McClellan, last year’s girls runner-up, has been snowed in and cannot make it to this year’s event, Drew Central coach Michael Goad said. Sheridan is taking McClellan’s place, giving the girls division an all-Southeast Arkansas field.
Marion is expected to defend its title in the boys division despite the weather’s effects. Bastrop (La.) is the only out-of-state team in the tournament.
The event will be held today and Friday at Drew Central, with all of Saturday’s games at the University of Arkansas at Monticello’s Steelman Fieldhouse.
Zebra Invitational schedule
• Dumas vs. Dollarway, 4:30 p.m.
• Tulsa McLain vs. Watson Chapel, 6 p.m.
Information on Friday’s and Saturday’s revised games will be posted as it becomes available.
Southeast Arkansas Holiday Tournament schedule
(At Drew Central High School,
• Stuttgart vs. White Hall (girls), 10 a.m.
• Bastrop, La., vs. Stuttgart (boys), 11:20 a.m.
• Dumas vs. Sheridan (girls), 12:40 p.m.
• McGehee vs. Marion (boys), 2 p.m.
• Monticello vs. McGehee (girls), 3:20 p.m.
• Monticello vs. Fordyce (boys), 4:30 p.m.
• Dollarway at Drew Central (girls), 6 p.m.
• White Hall at Drew Central (boys), 7:30 p.m.
(at Drew Central)
• Stuttgart/White Hall loser vs. Dumas/Sheridan loser (girls), 10 a.m.
• Bastrop/Stuttgart loser vs. McGehee/Marion loser (boys), 11:20 a.m.
• Monticello/McGehee loser vs. Dollarway/Drew Central loser (girls), 12:40 p.m.
• Monticello/Fordyce loser vs. Drew Central/White Hall loser (boys), 2 p.m.
• Monticello/McGehee winner vs. Drew Central/Dollarway winner (girls), 3:20 p.m.
• Monticello/Fordyce winner vs. McGehee/Marion winner (boys), 4:30 p.m.
• Stuttgart/White Hall winner vs. Dumas/Sheridan winner (girls), 6 p.m.
• Drew Central/White Hall winner vs. Bastrop/Stuttgart winner (boys), 7:30 p.m.
(at University of Arkansas at Monticello)
• Girls consolation final, noon
• Boys consolation final, 1:30 p.m.
• Girls third-place game, 3 p.m.
• Boys third-place game, 4:30 p.m.
• Girls championship, 6 p.m.
• Boys championship, 7:30 p.m.
• • •
***This article has been updated from its original version to reflect a change in the game schedule.