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OPINION: Plenty of new faces on the hard wood this season

November 23, 2021 at 1:18 p.m.

Watching the Blackhawks open their home schedule at the new facility last week made me scramble for the rosters with so many new faces out on the floor.

This looks to be a rebuilding year with so many young athletes having to step up and contribute towards the success of the 2021-2022 basketball campaigns. With the 4A-1 District being one of the toughest in the state, the road ahead will be a tough assignment for this year's edition of Blackhawk basketball.

The girls and boys both displayed some pretty good defense, greatly limiting their opponents' offensive opportunities. Both Hawks squads allowed only three baskets each inside the 3-point arc. Forcing their opponents to have to score from downtown to keep up is a good strategy for the Hawks.

Hogs put up good game at Alabama, lose close one

I knew the odds of Arkansas beating Alabama in Tuscaloosa were pretty high in favor of the Crimson Tide, though I think the Hogs are rising program and could spring the upset.

Once again, as seems often the case with playing games in Alabama, the officiating calls seem to tilt heavily against the Hogs and this game was more of the same. Still, losing by just a single touchdown to the nation's No. 2 team in their house is a pretty good feat.

Even the CBS crew thought the refs seem to have been one sided with lots of peculiar calls and decisions. Several times when the the Tide was close to a first down, the officials just waved it on without measuring, but when it was Arkansas close to the first, they had to be extra sure they were. CBS, not known for commenting very much about officiating, had a lot of things to say about the seemingly anti-Arkansas bent of the men in stripes.

It took nearly 600 yards of passing yards from their quarterback Bryce Young to win Alabama the game, breaking a school record set over 100 years ago. Arkansas QB K.J. Jefferson had well over 300 himself. That the Hogs were with 6 points in the last period likely shocked 'Bama fans. With Arkansas skill players likely back for 2022, things may be a whole lot better for Razorback fans next season.

The Hogs go for their eighth win against Missouri next week at home, probably earning them a pretty good bowl game to play in. Missouri was the team that edged Florida last week, with the Gator coach Dan Mullen being filmed smiling after the upset when he shook hands with the Tiger head coach. Gator fans were livid and one day later, Mullen is now the former coach with a 12 million dollar buyout in the offing. That ought to help him with his moving expenses and rent money for a little while.

Basketball Hogs No. 16 in poll

The men's Razorback team is ranked No. 16 after their 93-80 conquest of Northern Iowa.

The win makes the Arkansas 3-0 on the young season with the Hogs playing the Kansas State Wildcats two days ago in Manhattan, Kan. The Cats were 2-0 before Monday with their players seemingly certain they would prevail over the Razorbacks in interviews over the weekend.

If you want to motivate your opponent in sports, talk trash about them beforehand. The Hogs have been starting their games to date a bit slow, though they always heat up in the second half to take victories so far this year. Maybe they will come out of the gate a bit more on fire with their hosts help.

Sixth-grade boys three-peat

A tough thing for any youth team to do is win a league title, and a tougher thing to do is win twice. A near impossible thing to do is win three times, but the sixth-grade boys football team whipped Farmington recently in their youth league championship game.

They may have a little more incentive this time as they had lost to Farmington in a regular season game before the playoffs. They held the Cards to a single score in the championships as they used a smothering defense to win their third title.

I remember several years ago when Elkins had a sixth-grade boys basketball team that had not lost a single league game or tournament game in their three years of playing. They came down to the last conference game of their sixth-grade year and were so confident of victory in that last game, they had big trophies made up for their boys for their undefeated careers in the youth league. They were on display in the lobby before the game.

The problem with doing that was the fact that they were hosting Pea Ridge that day, a team that was also undefeated for the season. The Hawks had lost to Elkins the previous two years sure enough, but they had improved a lot, enough to believe they could pull the upset. The Elkins trophies seemed to say that playing the Blackhawks was just a formality on the way to their championship season. When the Pea Ridge boys saw the trophies, I believe they had their motivation jacked up a notch or two.

Pea Ridge won. Don't know what happened to the trophies.

So congratulations sixth-grade boys. A three-peat is a rare thing, especially among younger athletes.

•••

Editor's note: John McGee, an award-winning columnist, sports writer and art teacher at Pea Ridge elementary schools, writes a regular sports column for The Times. The opinions expressed are those of the writer. He can be contacted through The Times at [email protected]

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