For the first time since 2001, Arkadelphia will be playing in both the girls’ and boys’ championship games in a junior high conference tournament Thursday night at Fountain Lake High School.
The second-seeded Lady Badgers will face the undefeated and top-seeded Nashville Scrapperettes with tip-off scheduled for 6:30. After the girls’ championship game, the second-seeded Badgers will face the fourth-seeded Fountain Lake Cobras in the boys’ championship game, at approximately 7:45.
A video feed of the Thursday night championship games can be seen on the Fountain Lake Athletics YouTube page:
Both teams entered the tournament as the No. 2 seed after successful regular seasons. The journey to the championship game in the tournament was exciting for both teams, but more stressful for the Lady Badgers.
The boys, under the direction of head coach John Ware, defeated Malvern 58-28 in Saturday’s first round. Monday night, the Badgers secured a berth in Thursday night’s championship game with a 57-45 win over Bauxite in the semifinals. This will be the second straight conference tournament in which the Badgers have reached the finals. While there was no tournament in 2020, the Badgers reached the finals during the 2019 season, losing to Nashville by three points.
For the Lady Badgers, the route to the finals was a little bumpier at least in the semifinals. Head coach Ryan Ellison’s squad started the tournament strong with a 42-20 win over Fountain Lake in Saturday’s first round, giving Arkadelphia its 20th win of the season. The win set up a semifinal game against Bauxite, a team the Lady Badgers had defeated twice in the regular season.
Bauxite held the upper hand through the first three quarters, leading 35-23 heading in the final period. The Lady Badgers put together a furious comeback in the fourth, overcoming that 12-point deficit in the six-minute period.
Trailing 38-34 with 40 seconds left, Arkadelphia got a three-pointer from Tyriauna Tate and a steal on the ensuing Bauxite possession. After a timeout, Arkadelphia took a 39-38 lead on a jumper from the free throw line from Raygan Harris. Keeping up the defensive pressure, the Lady Badgers forced another quick Bauxite turnover before the ball crossed half court as Tate tipped a pass to Harris who found Tate under the goal for a layup with 3 seconds left, securing the win and setting off quite the celebration for the Lady Badgers.
To watch the Lady Badgers overcome a nine-point deficit with 2:12 remaining in the fourth quarter, click this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQpgz_yM_zQ. The entire game (as well as the Badger boys’ game after the Lady Badgers) is in the video, but the comeback begins at the 1:24:35 mark.