4A GIRLS STATE FINAL
Star City (31-1, 14-0 in 8-4A) vs. Farmington (26-7, 12-2 in 1-4A)
• When: 11 a.m. today
• Where: Summit Arena, Hot Springs
• TV/Radio: KARZ-42/KABZ-FM 103.7
• Seeds: Star City No. 1 South, Farmington No. 2 North
• Coaches: Star City, Becky Brown, 21st year; Farmington, Brad Johnson, third year
Star City Lady Dogs (31-1) Farmington Lady Cardinals (26-7)
Star City: PG Juquecia Chaney (Sr.); G Laurin Pooree (Sr.); G Octavian Reedy (Jr.); G Tyeshia Harris (Jr.); C Olydia Thornton (Sr.)
Farmington: PG Tiffany Rhame (Jr.); F Brea Jones (Sr.); G Haley Maxwell (Soph.); G Rene Scheyder (Jr.); C Lexie Lewis (Sr.)
Star City: G Kindra Redix (Jr.); G Kashima Williams (Sr.)
Farmington: G Payton Journagan (Sr.); F Kristi Duchanois
A CLOSER LOOK By Chan Davis
• Chaney vs. Rhame: It all starts up top with Chaney and Rhame running the point. Chaney is one of the top speedster point guards in the state at any classification while Rhame’s cat-like quickness can be deceiving. Chaney can run the length of the floor and either penetrate to the basket or dish off to teammates posted up for open looks. Chaney is ambidextrous, making her doubly difficult to guard. Was righty until freshman year then switched to lefty, allowing her to drive to the basket from either side. Neither is afraid of the paint but prefer to create off the dribble and dish.
Chaney averages 8.2 points per game. Rhame averages 8.0. Chaney grabs 3.4 rebounds per game. Rhame pulls down 3.0.
This one may be won in the steals department. Rhame’s quickness has the edge with 66 (2.1 avg.) total steals while Chaney tallied a team-leading 39 (1.2 avg.).
Late in the game, expect both to be calling for the ball, especially in a close one. Both have exceptional ball-handling skills. No real weaknesses to speak of in this anticipated matchup.
• Pooree vs. Jones: Laurin Pooree epitomizes what Star City is really all about: defense. In man-to-man situations Pooree will have likely draw the duty of guarding Farmington’s most well-rounded player in Breanna “Brea” Jones. These two are going to be fun to watch. They both play with tons of confidence and aggression and it may turn into a mental game before it’s all over. Foul trouble could come into play for one or the other — or both.
Pooree will give about 4 inches to the 5-foot-10 inch Jones but can make up for the height difference with in-your-face defensive pressure. Jones is strong and fears nothing. She handles the ball well, will back you down in the paint or turn and shoot from outside, though rarely from beyond the arc. Jones will shoot often if left open, leading the Lady Cards with 13 points per game. She also pulls down 6.5 rebounds and dishes out 3 assists.
Jones’ weakness, if she has one, is dribbling into traffic and getting boxed in. Her intelligent teammates can usually bail her out though.
• Thornton vs. Lewis: When Farmington’s Jones and Rhame have the ball in passing situations they are looking for shooters. Lexi Lewis is option No. 1 in the paint. At 6-feet-2, Lewis can accept the ball from all directions by just raising her arms. If she receives the ball on the low post, she expects to shoot it more times than not. Doesn’t have the greatest touch from mid-range but is extremely effective at positioning her large athletic frame close to the basket where touch isn’t an issue. Averages 12 points per outing and will give Thornton all she wants.
Thornton gives up seven inches to Lewis, but her physical nature almost cancels the height differential. Thornton averages 7.7 points per game and will probably hold true to form even with Lewis blocking her view of the basket. Thornton’s athleticism should allow her to get to the rim enough to be a factor, though Lewis will probably have no trouble obtaining her average of 3 blocks per game. When Thornton sits, Kindra Redix comes off the bench in relief. It may take both to contain Lewis for four quarters.
• Star City has a reputation for playing slow and limiting scoring opportunities for the opposition. For the season the Lady Dogs have surrendered a total of 828 points in 32 games (25.8 avg.) while scoring 1,534 points (47.9 avg.). Farmington scores an average of 51 points per game while allowing 38.5.
• For Star City, an early 29-27 win over 5A Watson Chapel in the Mount St. Mary’s tournament and a 51-20 win over Monticello just prior to starting conference play. For Farmington, a 49-46 win over Pulaski Academy in the 4A semifinal game at Pine Bluff Convention Center to reach the title game and early-season wins over Green Forest (54-46) and Greenland (44-35) which played each other in the Class 2A title game.
• For Star City, its only setback, a 53-39 loss to Monticello. For Farmington, four losses to Prairie Grove, two in the regular season (58-44, 55-50), one in the district tournament finals (44-42) and one in the regional tournament finals (48-44 OT).
• Star City assistant coach Spencer Gay played under Farmington coach Brad Johnson at Plainview-Rover, Johnson’s first job out of college. Gay coaches a summer-league program that includes some of Farmington’s players.
• Star City played and lost twice to Prairie Grove late in the season the past two years. Prairie Grove ousted the Lady Dogs in the state semifinals last year and in the title game in 2010. Pulaski Academy prevented Star City from facing Prairie Grove for a third consecutive season by ousting the Lady Tigers in the state quarterfinals at PBCC before bowing out to Farmington. Star City beat PA 42-33 in the regional finals in Dumas.
• Hanging banners in the school gymnasium is customary for those teams who compete and succeed at the highest level. Star City last hung a state championship banner for girls hoops in 1990. Farmington put one up in 1994, it’s only state title in school history.
Call off the (Lady) Dogs
• Largest margin of victory this year for Star City: a 66-6 win over Dollarway, worse than the near shutout of Dollarway in a 57-2 rout earlier in the year. For Farmington, a 52-17 win over Elkins.
• Farmington’s Rene Scheyder could be the feather in Farmington’s hat. The 5-foot-8 junior guard can shoot lights-out from three-point range. If she gets hot early and puts Star City in catch-up mode, it could be game-changing. She may be the X-factor. Star City coach Becky Brown will know where Scheyder is on the floor at all times. The Lady Dogs better keep at least two sets of eyes in her direction. Though not the leading scorer, she is the best athlete on the floor for the Lady Cards.
• Star City has a knack for hanging on to late leads, mainly due in part to allowing a paltry 7.0 points per game in the fourth period.