The Charleston Tigers have never been afraid to play anyone, and that certainly held true Friday night as the Tigers made the long trip to Hot Springs Lake Hamilton to play the Class 6A Lake Hamilton Wolves at the new Wolf Arena. Although the boys and varsity teams were not able to leave Hot Springs with a victory, they left with valuable experience against very talented teams that will certainly pay dividends for the Tigers during conference and post season play.
The Lady Tigers played very well against a Lake Hamilton team that included three players that have been offered college basketball scholarships. The tall and athletic Lady Wolves proved to be too much for Charleston, but the grit and determination that was shown by the Lady Tigers was inspiring to watch. The good news for the Lady Tigers is that they will play few, if any teams in their remaining schedule that will be as good and talented as Lake Hamilton. Timely three-point shooting and good transitional basketball where the Lady Tigers often beat Lake Hamilton down the floor after defensive rebounds kept Charleston in the game. The final score was 68-56; a very respectable score that should give every Charleston fan reason to be optimistic as the Lady Tigers move into conference play.
The same held true for the Charleston Tigers as they played an inspirational game against a Lake Hamilton team that last year defeated Jonesboro on their court. The Tigers, down just one point at the end of the first quarter, stayed in the game with tough inside play and defense that often frustrated the Wolves. The athletic Lake Hamilton Wolves held Charleston to just 37 points on the night, while the Tigers only gave up 52 to the 6A Wolves. A loss is still a loss, but, as with the Lady Tigers, Charleston played inspirational basketball and should feel good about themselves as they prepare to enter conference play.
Both Jason Rucker and B. J. Ross indicated during the pre-season that their early November and December records may not reflect how good their teams would be playing. Both coached believe in playing a tough non-conference schedule to prepare for conference play. With the exception of a brief schedule in Christmas holiday tournaments later this month, the Charleston basketball program will move into conference play starting this Tuesday at Cedarville. Cedarville is historically a very tough place for visiting teams to play, and the Pirates home court atmosphere combined with a talented team will make for a tough opening game for Charleston. It is hard to win on the road in conference play. If the Tigers and Lady Tigers can win at Cedarville, they will be off to a great start in the conference as they would have one road victory secured on the season. The Cedarville match-up is a big game for the Tigers and Lady Tigers.
The Lady Tigers are now 6-2-1 on the season with their only losses being to Class 4A Pea Ridge and Class 6A Lake Hamilton. According to Max Preps, Charleston is ranked 9th in Class 3A in Arkansas and 37th in the state across all classifications.
The Charleston Tigers boys team is now 3-2 on the season. Their losses have been to Class 4A Dardanelle and Class 6A Lake Hamilton. Rankings for the Tigers are not available by Max Preps. Rankings were last updated on Friday, December 13, and a minimum of five games is required by Max Preps for rankings. The Tigers Class 3A and overall state rankings should be published next week by Max Preps.
Tigers fans can be very proud of how their teams represented Charleston last evening at Lake Hamilton. Charleston earned the respect of all fans in the arena. In late February, Charleston will look back on Friday the 13th in Lake Hamilton when both the Lady Tigers and the Tigers came together and laid the foundation for a post season, state tournament run.