Fillies in good spirits heading into state tourney


The last week of February was an emotional rollercoaster for the Pine Bluff Fillies.

After winning four straight games — including a win over first-place El Dorado — the Fillies were tied for first with two games remaining.

With Benton having knocked off El Dorado as well, Pine Bluff had to defeat the Lady Panthers at home and Texarkana on the road and they might have locked up the No. 1 seed for the 6A state tournament.

But Benton had other plans as they defeated the Fillies in overtime at McFadden Gymnasium on senior night — dropping Pine Bluff to the No. 3 seed.

Head coach Loy Moore said he is not disappointed where Pine Bluff (21-6) finished.

“This time year, you are just glad kids are not hurt,” Moore said. “And we got everybody healthy and ready to play.

“I’m pleased with where we are right now.”

The Fillies beat Texarkana 50-42 on Feb. 28 to secure the third seed.

Pine Bluff will play Marion — the sixth seed out of the East — on Friday beginning at 7 p.m. at Jonesboro High School.

“They are athletic, they rebound well and they have had some really big wins,” Moore said. “You got to control their athleticism and keep them off the boards.”

After missing last year’s state tournament due to an injury, Fillies senior Ajia Richardson — who scored a game-high 18 against Texarkana — is hungry for another chance for a state title.

“She is trying to erase that memory from a year ago,” Moore said. “I expect her to play her best basketball.”

One thing is for certain; Pine Bluff will not overlook Marion.

“They beat El Dorado last year by 12 points in the tournament,” Moore said. “I don’t think we will overlook them.

“They are a team that can definitely beat you if you don’t play a good ballgame.”

Lady ’Cats primed for tourney

Watson Chapel head coach Leslie Henderson is hoping that a little ignorance by her younger team will pay off in the long run as the Lady Wildcats prepare for the state tournament.

“Seniors are usually more nervous than your younger kids in a situation like this,” Henderson said. “They want it a lot worse, because they know each game can be their last.

“Younger kids are a little ignorant on that and so they just go out and play.”.

Third-seeded Watson Chapel (15-11) is scheduled to play Little Rock Christian — the two seed from the 5A Central — on Friday beginning at 4 p.m. at Alma High School.

“They have two real good three-point shooters and two others that look to drive,” Henderson said. “The other one is a mixture of both.

“They don’t have much of a post game at all. It is mostly driving and dishing it off.”

Henderson said it is important for the Lady Wildcats to play good man defense and know each player.

“They don’t really have a set offense,” Henderson said. “They just use a lot of motion.”

Henderson said the pressure is completely on Little Rock Christian.

“They are the co-conference champs and just lost the tiebreaker,” Henderson said. “We have no pressure or expectation.

“We just have to relax and go play.”

Henderson said while she doesn’t expect for her team to repeat the kind of success they had last year in the state tournament, she is glad they are getting the experience.

“It is great for them,” Henderson said. “See that atmosphere. See what it’s all about.”

WH in a good position

If the White Hall Lady Bulldogs are hoping for a deep run in the state playoffs, this would be the year to do so.

With a senior heavy team — including JaeLisa Allen — the Lady Bulldogs (19-5) have a legitimate chance at reaching Hot Springs.

White Hall, who clinched the No. 2 seed with a win over De Queen on Feb. 25, will play Jacksonville on Friday beginning at 7 p.m. at Alma High School.

Jacksonville, who won the 5A state championship last year, earned the No. 3 seed out of the 5A Central.

It is possible for White Hall and Watson Chapel to meet in the state tournament. Both teams would have to make it to the semifinals after potentially playing No. 1 seeds Paragould and Vilonia, respectively, in the quarterfinals.