Drew Central girls coach Michael Goad is hoping a homecourt advantage helps his team reach the state playoffs for a seventh straight season.
“It’s definitely a great advantage to have it on your home court,” Goad said of this week’s 3A Region 4 Tournament. “Playing on the goals you’ve played on all year, and really these girls’ whole career.
“Then you add in a team coming off a two-plus hour bus ride, maybe we can sneak up on them and get a win.”
Drew Central, the No. 3 seed from the 8-3A Conference, will take on No. 2 seed Centerpoint at 7 p.m. Thursday.
Goad and the Lady Pirates (11-12) are quite familiar with the Lady Knights, having faced them in the regional semifinals last year.
“They didn’t graduate anybody from last year’s team,” Goad said. “They start five seniors. …
“We’re going to have to play good solid defense. They try and score a lot in the paint.”
Goad will be looking for sophomore Cierra Gardner to help lead the Lady Pirates back to the state tournament.
“Cierra was our sixth man last year,” Goad said. “But she had a phenomenal regional tournament.
“When we played Centerpoint last year she led us in the second half going on like a 10-0 run to help us come back from 12 down.”
Drew Central joins No. 1 seed Fordyce and No. 2 seed McGehee as local teams trying to advance out of the eight-team regional.
Last Friday, the Lady Bugs beat the Lady Owls 48-47 in the 8-3A district final on Alyssa English’s jumper in the closing seconds.
Fordyce (22-7) will face No. 4 seed Fouke at 7 p.m. Wednesday, while McGehee (13-8) faces third-seeded Bismarck at 4 p.m. Thursday.
Brown: Lady Dogs
‘better crank it up’
Star City coach Becky Brown knows how important it was to earn the No. 1 seed for her team’s regional in Nashville.
“It’s important because you get to play their 4 seed,” she said. “With the first game being a must-win, it was important for us to come out of (the 8-4A Conference) with the No. 1 seed.”
Brown thinks Star City’s defense will need to be improved when it takes on Bauxite at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
“We haven’t played as well the past two games,” she said about her defense. “The intensity and communication just weren’t as good as they had been. …
“This is a whole new season. We tell them this is the third season. It’s the playoffs, so if you lose you go home. They better crank it up.”
A long playoff run by the Lady Dogs (24-2) could be a rallying point for Star City in the wake of Zack Towers’ death. Towers, 19, was a senior football player in 2012 when he was severely injured in a game.
“We all share in this difficult time,” she said. “I think the kids will all step up and play together for this town and this community.”
Two other local girls teams from the 8-4A conference also made the regional.
Fourth-seeded Warren (12-11) led by sophomore Shamiqua Pickett will face top-seeded Malvern at 4 p.m. Wednesday. Pickett finished with 21 points, including the go-ahead three-point play, in a 39-38 win over Hamburg in what was essentially a play-in game Monday.
No. 2 seed Dumas (18-9) has a date with No. 3 seed and tournament host Nashville at 4 p.m. Thursday.
The season before Kris DeJarnette took over Stuttgart, the Lady Ricebirds won just four games.
In two seasons under his watch, Stuttgart has won 25 games and this season the Lady Ricebirds have qualified for the regional tournament for the first time in six years.
Stuttgart, a No. 4 seed, will face No. 1 seed Valley View in the 4A East Region at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Clinton.
The Lady Ricebirds (13-12) entered the 2-4A district tournament as the No. 6 seed, but beat No. 7 seed Dollarway and upset No. 3 seed Clinton to earn a regional berth.
“When I came here the players and program as a whole did not have a lot of confidence,” DeJarnette said. “The girls, including last year’s seniors, were committed to turning the program around.
“They have just brought a great work ethic. They knew the time we spent in the gym would pay off.”
DeJarnette hopes his team can handle the pressure Valley View’s defense will use Wednesday night.
“They are very fundamentally sound,” he said. “They employ various traps and pressures. …
“The key for us is being able to make good decisions.”
Rison, a No. 3 seed, will play in the 2A South Region against No. 2 seed Foreman at 4 p.m. Thursday in Gurdon.