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Thursday, May 19, 2022

Charleston Roars Back to Take Third Place in Girls Regional

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What a difference a day makes.

Yesterday, it seemed like nothing went right for the Lady Tigers. After many consecutive wins dating back to December 13, Charleston was handed a loss by the state’s number one team, Mountain View. The Lady Tigers would then have to come back in less than 24 hours to play another good team, the Rose Bud Lady Ramblers, for the third seed in next week’s state tournament.

If you read my column yesterday, I predicted that the Lady Tigers, led by an outstanding group of seniors, would bounce back strong against Rose Bud…and that is exactly what they did. On Friday, Charleston could not get a shot to go down…but on Saturday, it seemed like almost everything they shot went in. And for Rose Bud, if this was not bad enough, Baylee King of Charleston heaved a three-point shot from approximately her own free throw line and banked it in at the buzzer from approximately three-fourths of the way down the court to end the third quarter. The shot extended the Charleston lead to 13 points. Everything was dropping for the Lady Tigers.

Admittedly, with all due respect to Rose Bud, they are a very good team, but they are not Mountain View. That had a lot to do with the Lady Tigers performance today. But, the most impressive outcome of today’s game for Charleston was the way the Lady Tigers put the Mountain View loss behind them quickly, and came out with good energy and much better shooting today.

I have talked about how this team has not necessarily played their best at times throughout the season, but have been talented enough and experienced enough to still win games, and win games by big margins. And they won a lot of games this year. Yesterday, Charleston faced adversity that they had not experienced at anytime this year, and it remained to be seen how the team would react on Saturday. I think the Lady Tigers put to rest any concerns regarding their mental state or competitive desire with their performance against Rose Bud.

I have enjoyed watching this team all season, but I have to confess that they have been a hard group to judge by looking at their body language in different situations. This team has a business-like body language, I am sure due to its senior experience. The Lady Tigers can be up by 15 points at the half, or they can be down 10 points at the half, and when they walk by on the way to the locker room, their facial expressions are the same. They don’t panic. They have a lot of confidence, and they know what to do. Coach Jason Rucker knows exactly how to handle them, having been their coach for many years. Coach Rucker makes great adjustments at half-time, and all throughout the season, regardless of the score or the margin of victory, he is always coaching for the next game. They are a very special group of players and coaches, and I believe they are going to make one big, final push next week in front of the home fans to end their high school careers on top and be in contention for a state title.

On Saturday, at the Waldron regional tournament, third place games for the boys and girls brackets, along with championship games in the boys and girls brackets took place. I will have a summary of the results for our readers on Monday afternoon in Resident Press. I will also preview all of the teams and the seedings in the state tournament that will be held at Tiger Center starting on Tuesday.

And as we begin to wrap up the regional tournament, I would like to take this opportunity to recognize and thank the Waldron School District and the many Waldron coaches, staff members, and administrators for the great job they did in not only hosting the regional tournament, but the district tournament the week before, as well. Anyone who has worked in a school district that has hosted such of an event knows how much planning and work hours go into the successful hosting of a tournament. The Waldron folks worked long hours for two consecutive weeks to put both tournaments on, and on behalf of Resident Press, I would like to thank them for their hospitality and the efficiency of the operation of the tournament. Next week, it will be Charleston’s turn to host the state, and I am sure the Charleston School District will also do a first class job hosting the best teams in Class 3A and their fans from around the state.

So for now, the Lady Tigers get a couple of days to rest and regroup before the start of the state tournament on Tuesday. Next week will be the final opportunity for Charleston fans to see this team in action. The Lady Tigers are a team of historical significance to the girls basketball program in Charleston. With an undefeated conference championship, district tournament championship, and a state three seed in their pockets, the Lady Tigers are going to compete for a state title as the final piece to their legacy. This will be a team that people will still be talking about 25 years from now. Charleston fans owe it to themselves to come out next week and to watch history and cheer the Lady Tigers to a state title. And, the players and coaches on this team deserve your attendance, as well.

Watch for my column on Monday afternoon for a complete breakdown of next week’s state tournament. And thanks to all of our loyal readers in Charleston for making Resident Press their choice in following Charleston basketball! It has been our pleasure to bring it to you all season.

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Jim Best
Jim Best is a man of many talents. His storied career in Arkansas education led him to a new passion, and hidden gifts in sports journalism.
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