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Saturday, March 2, 2024

District Champions Tigers and Lady Tigers Prepare for District Tournament Week


After a regular season that saw the Charleston Lady Tigers go a perfect 14-0 and win an outright district championship, as well as the Tigers boys team surprising the conference by finishing the season as tri-champions of the conference, both teams are now focusing on post-season play. Charleston will play this week in the district tournament that will be held at Waldron High School.

The Lady Tigers finished the regular season 23-2 overall and 14-0 in conference. The only losses on the season for the Lady Tigers were a 46-43 loss on November 16 to Class 4A Pea Ridge, and a 68-56 loss to Class 6A Lake Hamilton on December 13 in Hot Springs. Charleston has not lost a game since that cold night in December when the Lady Tigers made the long trip to play Lake Hamilton. Since that time, they have been perfect in not only conference, but have had wins over Class 4A Wynne, and Class 6A Searcy. In conference play, the Lady Tigers have had only one close game, that being against Elkins at home on January 21 when Charleston defeated the Lady Elks 50-44. After wrapping up the regular season last Friday at Elkins with a 42-25 win, the Lady Tigers will enter this week’s district tournament ranked #32 in the state across all classifications, and #5 in the state in Class 3A.

As the top seed in this year’s district tournament, Charleston has earned a double-bye from the first two rounds and will play their first game on Thursday, February 20 at 4 p.m. The Lady Tigers await the winners of play-in games from the first two rounds of the tournament. Elkins, the number two seed in the tournament, is in the opposite side of the bracket from Charleston, and they too have earned a double-bye and will play their first tournament game on Thursday at 7 p.m. It remains to be seen if Cinderella will make an appearance at this year’s tournament, but if the tournament goes according to seedings, there could be a third match-up between Charleston and Elkins in the championship game that will be played Saturday, February 22, at 6 p.m.

The Charleston boys team was the feel-good story of the year in the conference regular season. A young and inexperienced team that included a freshman guard playing a significant role as a starter, surprised the league by leading almost the entire conference season and finishing the season with a share of the conference title. The Tigers are a gritty team that plays cohesively and always seems to find a way to win. Last Friday night, Charleston traveled to Elkins for their third game in just four days. All three games were played on the road. Facing a motivated Elks team that had lost to Charleston earlier in the season on a buzzer-beater three-point shot, the Elks went into the game needing to defeat Charleston to gain a share of the conference title. That same night, in the southern reaches of the league, the Waldron Bulldogs were hosting the Greenland Pirates to remain in the hunt for a share of the title. Elkins defeated Charleston and forced a three-way tie for the conference championship. Using the conference’s tie breaker formula, the Tigers were designated as a three seed going into the district tournament by virtue of their margin of victory being less than those of Elkins and Waldron.

So, as the district tournament begins this week in Waldron, Charleston, the three seed, earned a first round bye and will not play today. The Tigers first game will be on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. versus the winner of the Lincoln versus Mansfield game that will be held today at 5:30 p.m. If the Tigers win their first game, they will advance to the semi-final on Thursday versus Elkins. To qualify for next week’s regional tournament, the Tigers must win on Tuesday. All district tournament semi-finalists will advance to next week’s regional tournament. The Lady Tigers, by virtue of their double-bye and seeded automatically in the semi-finals, have already qualified for regionals. The case for all teams is that of seeding in the regional tournament. All teams want to win as many games as possible in the district tournament to be seeded as highly as possible in next week’s regional tournament. A team that goes to regional as a #4 seed will be matched-up with a #1 seed in the regional bracket. So, there is an incentive to win as many games as possible in the district tournament to get a more favorable seed in the regional.

And in a peculiarity to this year’s post-season, next week’s regional tournament will also be held in Waldron. District teams have the advantage of playing in the Waldron facility this week going into next week’s regional tournament. Teams will qualify from the regional tournament next week to move on to the state tournament that will be hosted at Tiger Center in Charleston in two weeks.

Resident Press will keep you updated all the way through the state finals in Hot Springs on March 13. Stay with RP for the latest in Charleston basketball!

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Jim Best
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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