It was day two of the state 3A basketball tournament, and the host team, the Charleston Lady Tigers finally had their chance to take the court and begin their tournament quest for a girls basketball state championship. The first opponent for the Lady Tigers was the Centerpoint Lady Knights.
In front of a near-capacity crowd at Tiger Center, starters from both teams were introduced with a spotlight introduction. The energy in the building was rising. After the National Anthem, the Tiger Center sound system blasted the song, “Welcome to the Jungle”, and the partisan Charleston crowd erupted. The game was on, and the Lady Tigers fed off of the energy from the crowd. What a great atmosphere! Way to go Charleston fans!
Charleston ran to a quick, double-digit lead in the first quarter. The Lady Tigers were splashing shots from the outside, and their characteristically tenacious, swarming defense was too much for the Lady Knights. But Charleston’s shooting cooled off in the second quarter, and the Lady Tigers lead evaporated. Centerpoint not only caught up with the Lady Tigers, but managed to take a brief one point lead late in the second quarter. Charleston’s shooters then began to come back to life and by the end of the first half, Charleston enjoyed a small lead.
The Charleston crowd, led by a great student section, recharged the Lady Tigers. Again, feeding off of the energy from the crowd, Charleston broke the game open with a huge third quarter run. At one point, the Lady Tigers had outscored Centerpoint 18-7 in the third quarter. The Lady Knights grew increasingly frustrated with the game slipping away, and with the tight defensive pressure applied by Charleston. In fact, a Centerpoint player, unhappy with a play in which the Lady Tigers aggressively went after a loose ball, apparently voiced her displeasure to the point she was given a technical foul. The Centerpoint player was visibly angry and shaken, and was taken out of the game by her coach. She did not return to the game. Charleston’s defensive intensity and the partisan Charleston crowd were huge factors in the game. The Lady Knights clearly struggled with the raucous environment of the game. The state tournament will test any team’s mental toughness.
From that point in the game, Charleston was clearly in control. The Lady Tigers slowed their offense to run time off of the clock, but were still looking to score if the opportunities were presented. The Lady Tigers experience was showing, and the end result of the night was perhaps the most dominant performance of any team so far in the state tournament. Charleston made a statement Wednesday night that they are here and they intend to compete for a spot in the championship game in Hot Springs. That will be a tough road with a date with a very good Central Arkansas Christian team on Friday, and, if the Lady Tigers can win that game, would more than likely play Mountain View in the semi-finals with the winner of that game going to the championship game in Hot Springs. Charleston has to be careful not to look too far down the road. They need to bring the same intensity and focus on Friday afternoon against CAC that they did last night. If they do, they will be in good shape. I am sure Charleston coach Jason Rucker would love to put the magic of last night into a bottle and use it every day in the tournament. On Wednesday, Charleston looked like the team to beat in the state tournament. And the Charleston fans were a big part of the Lady Tigers dominant performance.
Charleston will play in the quarterfinals on Friday at 1 p.m. versus Central Arkansas Christian. CAC soundly defeated Walnut Ridge in their first round game. Resident Press will have a preview of this game tomorrow morning. Charleston fan deserve a lot of credit for showing up big last night. They contributed to a decisive home court advantage for the Lady Tigers and it was a difference maker in the outcome of the game. And now, the Lady Tigers need you to show up Friday for their 1 p.m. quarterfinal game. Ask your employers, spouses, etc., for permission to go to the game! I am sure the Lady Tigers will respond to your support, just as they did last night!
So now, for Charleston, the team must regroup and come down from the emotional high it had last night, along with the celebration of their first state tournament win this year. They have to forget about the game and move on to their next opponent. Preparation is so critical for a team, and Charleston cannot afford to have a lapse in concentration as they prepare for CAC. This is a tournament that is loaded with great teams, and each team has to be respected. That translates to a good practice today with full attention on CAC.
The Charleston game was clearly the highlight event of day two of the state tournament. There were other very important games played Wednesday in the tournament, and here is a recap of yesterday’s scores.
Mountain View 56, West Helena Central 43
Rose Bud 54, Ashdown 39
Charleston 50, Centerpoint 29
Elkins 59, Prescott 43
Dumas 55, Bergman 35
Monticello Drew Central 59, Clinton 53
Click here to view or download an updated copy of the girls state tournament bracket.
Click here to view or download an updated copy of the boys state tournament bracket.
For teams playing their first round game today, it has been several days, approximately five days, since some of them have played their last games in the regional tournament. For those teams it will be interesting to see if they have benefited from the extra rest and preparation time, or, if they have cooled off from streaks they enjoyed in the regional tournaments. This is part of what makes the state tournament so exciting!
Day three of the state tournament will resume today with the Lamar Lady Warriors playing their first round game against Harding Academy. The day will include the first two quarterfinal matches that will be held during the day’s evening session of the tournament.
One final note, Resident Press would like to thank the Charleston school district for their outstanding support and hospitality that has helped make it possible to bring updates to our readers from the state tournament. RP will publish updates again on today’s afternoon session, and will have an evening session wrap-up tomorrow morning. Stay with Resident Press for the latest from the Class 3A state tournament in Charleston!