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OPINION: Ladyhawks take two of three at Lavaca tourney

by By John McGee, columnist | December 6, 2022 at 8:10 a.m.

The Golden Arrows of Lavaca hosted their annual tournament with both Pea Ridge teams winning their opening round contests, before falling in semifinal action.

Trent Loyd's charges drew the Paris Eagles in the opening round with the Hawks taking that contest with a hard fought 51-46 victory. Heath Neal's girls were matched up with the Charleston Tigers with the locals coming out on top, 54-42.

The semifinals were tough on both Hawk squads with the County Line Indians sailing past Pea Ridge 69-50, while the girls were knocked off by Rogers Providence 77-33. Both those teams would go on to win the overall championships with County Line crushing the host team Lavaca 64-45 in the finals with the Providence ladies also defeating Lavaca, theirs by a 61-55 count.

County Line is a small school basketball power situated between Charleston and Paris just south of Ozark. They are 15-0, beginning their season in October. Their 15 victories have been by an average 26 points per game, with nearly half of them mercy ruled. Providence has lost but one game this season, and that was to 4A power Farmington. They have speed and size, and a super tradition.

In the third-place game, the girls came away with the trophy as they bested Paris 60-52. The boys played Subiaco, to whom they lost in a tight game 60-57. The Hawks had beaten Subiaco earlier this season by 12.

4A-1 Conference play is approaching, and most of the member schools have winning records in their tournament and non-conference schedules to date.

4A-1 Conference

Non-league games

BOYS

Farmington^8-0

Berryville^6-2

Pea Ridge^6-3

Gravette^5-2

Huntsville^4-1

Prairie Grove^4-3

Gentry^2-5

Shiloh^0-7

GIRLS

Farmington^7-0

Prairie Grove^6-0

Pea Ridge^7-2

Gentry^4-2

Berryville^2-1

Gravette^1-1

Shiloh^1-3

Huntsville^1-4

High school football playoffs half over, NWA faring poorly

The top three classifications in the Arkansas high school playoffs went poorly for the northwest.

Bentonville made the 7A finals, facing the Bryant Hornets, a team they have beaten all four times they have met in the past dozen years. This year was different as the Tigers were beaten down 38-7. Bentonville has the best overall record of any 7A school over the past 15 years, but not as many state titles as they could have had.

Over in the 6A, Little Rock Pulaski outscored perennial power Greenwood 42-35 to claim that championship. Pulaski was promoted to 6A after heavily dominating the 5A class for years. Now they can heavily dominate the 6A class for awhile.

There was an upset of sorts in the 5A championship game. Mightily favored Shiloh was mightily disappointed in a 31-21 loss to Little Rock Parkview. Interestingly, Parkview was the pre-season pick to win it all before Shiloh assumed the top spot in the polls early in the season.

The Arkansas eight-man football classification held what I think was their first state championship playoff, with Izard County defeating Rector 38-26 for the title. Most of the teams in the new eight-man class were smaller schools having trouble fielding 11 players. A few of the teams like Izard County, started football when they saw they could compete.

This week will see the 4A, 3A and 2A championship games. Harding Academy of Searcy was moved up from 3A after dominating that class for a time, and the 2021 3A state champs will be playing for a 4A title. Their opponent will be the Malvern Leopards. There will be a new Arkansas team that wins the 3A crown as both Booneville and Charleston made the final. Members of the 3A-1, Charleston ran over Booneville 42-14 in mid-October in league play.

Razorbacks into the Liberty Bowl, facing Kansas

For the third straight year, the Arkansas Razorbacks have been selected to play in a post-season bowl game, the Liberty Bowl in Memphis on Dec. 28.

The other team will be the Kansas Jayhawks, who are currently riding a two-game victory streak against the Razorbacks. However, that statistic hasn't much meaning as the two Razorback defeats transpired 115 years ago. The two teams had a home and home series with the Jayhawks taking both games, the last of which happened in 1907.

Actually, Kansas did not beat the "Razorbacks" back in 1906-07 because there wasn't such a thing -- yet. The Jayhawks beat the Arkansas Cardinals, who then became the Arkansas Razorbacks in 1910.

Both Kansas and Arkansas have 6-6 records in 2022 so the loser will end the season with a losing record with the winner going out as a winner. A win is sorely needed by both teams to shore up their recruiting.

Both teams had roller coaster seasons. Kansas started the year 5-0, getting into the rankings before a tough fought 38-31 loss against No. 3 ranked Texas Christian. The Jays then lost another hard fought game, 52-42, against unranked Oklahoma, which was followed up with another fairly close loss, this time to Baylor by a 35-23 count.

Then Kansas snapped out of it, beating highly ranked Oklahoma State 37-16, giving them a 6-3 record. However, the roof fell in on them their last three games as they lost to Kansas State 47-27, then to Texas 55-14, then to Texas Tech 43-28.

While the Hogs got their third straight bowl invitation, this will be Kansas' first appearance in a bowl game in 14 years.

For those who might be wondering how the Liberty Bowl got its name being in Memphis.

Actually, the bowl game began in 1959 in Philadelphia, named for the city's place in history and where the Liberty Bell resides. Because of the rather poor nature of the weather in late December in Philadelphia, the game was moved to an indoor facility in Atlantic City, New Jersey, (the first ever indoor bowl game) in 1964. The facility wasn't all that great so when Memphis businessmen and sports officials made a bid to move the bowl to Tennessee, the deal was struck to move the game.

At the time the Liberty Bowl was begun, there were only eight bowl games in existence. Today there are 43 collegiate bowl games. This season for SEC teams, Georgia plays Ohio State in the Peach Bowl, Alabama plays Kansas State in the Sugar Bowl, Tennessee plays Clemson in the Orange Bowl, Louisiana State plays Purdue in the Citrus Bowl, Mississippi State plays Illinois in the ReliaQuest Bowl, Kentucky plays Iowa in the Music City Bowl, South Carolina plays Notre Dame in the Gator Bowl, Mississippi plays Texas Tech in the Texas Bowl, Missouri plays Wake Forest in the Gaspirilla Bowl, Florida plays Oregon State in the Las Vegas Bowl, along with the Hogs playing Kansas in the Liberty. Eleven SEC teams are in bowl action which means that only three teams are not.

With all the money pouring into the SEC's bank accounts with all the TV money from the bowl games, you can understand why Oklahoma and Texas abandoned their longtime conference for a spot in the SEC. Of course, those two teams aren't slated to join the SEC until 2025 due to television contracts with the Big 12 and Fox Sports. However, ESPN is pushing for an earlier exit to the SEC, as it makes THEM more money. All about the money. ESPN could pay off Fox and hurry the deal.

•••

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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