The 2021-22 Arkansas high school basketball season has now come to an end, and fans everywhere are reflecting on their teams’ seasons. Many experienced success at different levels, and for the Paris boys basketball program, new Eagles coach Josh Ferrell led his program back to the state tournament for the first time in several seasons.
And even though the Eagles were eliminated in a highly-contested first round loss to Osceola, the Paris boys have much to be proud of. In fact, the Eagles will return three starters next year off of this year’s team, and coach Josh Ferrell will have his first chance to develop his team during the off-season as he and Eagles fans turn their sights to next season.
The 2021-22 season was full of ups and downs throughout the early months, but as post-season play approached, Ferrell had his Eagles playing their best basketball just in time to compete for a district tournament, regional, and state championship run. The Eagles played an inspiring district tournament that saw them play four games in five days at Cedarville. The Eagles finished as district tournament runner-ups to the home standing Pirates, but played their way into a two seed in the following week’s regional tournament at Booneville. In the regional tournament, it was the Eagles again playing inspiring basketball to defeat Valley Springs in the first round to secure a berth in the state tournament for the first time in many seasons. The defeat knocked Valley Springs out of the state tournament, just one week prior to when they would have been the host team in the first three rounds of the Class 3A state tournament. Paris went on to play in the state tournament as a four seed and gave the Osceola Seminoles all they wanted in a narrow loss in the state first rounds. A disappointing loss for Paris, but one that Eagles fans everywhere were proud of the team’s effort and the progress they had made in the last month of the season.
I asked Coach Ferrell for his comments regarding his team’s performance and progress that was made in his first year as the Eagles boys basketball coach. He replied by saying, “This season was a success for our senior high boys team. I could not be prouder of this group. We overcame a lot of challenges and adversity, and we handled it well. We had ups and downs throughout the year, but we grew as individuals and as a team. I believe we started playing our best basketball later as the season went on, which is what you want to do. There was a lot of accomplishments this team achieved; from having a tough road to the finals of the district tournament which took beating a tough Hackett team and then beating the number one seed Waldron Bulldogs to getting to the semi finals of the regional tournament. This team got to the state tournament which hadn’t been done in a while and we had a 20-win season which also has not happened in a while. Everyone on our roster contributed to the success of this team. Everyone of them bought in to what I had asked them to do daily and they worked hard and were very coachable all year. I am very proud to be able to coach these guys.”
From a fans’ perspective, it was obvious that the Eagles did buy-in to Coach Ferrell’s expectations and coaching, and for that reason, it appears that the boys basketball program at Paris is on solid ground and will have high expectations going into next season.
Congratulations to the 2021-22 Eagles basketball team on a great season, and best of luck next year!