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Monday, February 26, 2024

Paris Lady Eagles Cap Perfect Conference Season With District Tournament Championship


Among a sea of blue and white in the bleachers, and chants from the crowd, “she’s a freshman”, the Paris Lady Eagles defeated the Charleston Lady Tigers 3-0 on Thursday night in West Fork to win the 2019 Class 3A West senior high school district volleyball tournament. The tournament title completed a perfect conference sweep for Paris as they won the regular season title with a perfect 14-0 record, and added a district tournament title without losing a set. The district tournament title sends Paris to next week’s state tournament as a number one seed.

The Lady Eagles combined talent, depth, and tournament experience to dominate their opponents in the tournament. They appear to be peaking at the right time of the season. Their players who have been battling injuries during the second half of the season are back and nearly 100%, and Paris has not only added roster depth from their freshman team, but has added a freshman, Brailey Forst, who is now getting substantial playing time. All of this adds up to a team that should be heavily favored to win another state championship in the next eight days.

Freshman Brailey Forst Has Added A New Weapon to a Loaded Paris Lineup

The Charleston Lady Tigers suffered just their third conference defeat of the season, all of which were to Paris. Charleston is the district tournament runner-up and will go to the state tournament next week as a number two seed.

The Lady Tigers are an excellent team that has the potential to meet Paris in the state final in Hot Springs. As the number two seed in the tournament, Charleston would not play the Lady Eagles until the finals. It will be important for Charleston to get off to a good start against their first round opponent. They played hard against Paris Thursday night, but suffered another emotional loss to the Lady Eagles. They must regroup and be ready to play on Tuesday. As with all teams in the tournament, it is game by game; each game can be the last. For Charleston’s seniors, they want to keep playing.

In a consolation game played earlier on Thursday afternoon, the Mansfield Lady Tigers defeated the Waldron Lady Bulldogs 3-0 to win third place in the tournament. With the win, Mansfield will be a three seed in next week’s state tournament. Waldron will now to the state tournament as a four seed.

Mansfield seems to be the team that has benefited the most from the district tournament. The Lady Tigers moved themselves into the third seed in the tournament with their wins over the past four days. The Mansfield lineup changed during the tournament to include many freshman from their junior high team. The new team seems to be jelling, and the Lady Tigers could make some noise next week. By earning the third seed, they have a better chance at winning, avoiding a number one seed in the opening round. The Mansfield coaches have done a great job in doing what is best for the team. It is a difficult decision for coaches to move up freshmen ahead of upperclassmen at tournament time, but as evidenced by Paris and the play of Mansfield, both schools have made good decisions that are paying off. Mansfield will be a tough out in the state tournament.

The Waldron Lady Bulldogs played their hearts out Tuesday night versus Charleston, and appeared to be out of gas against Mansfield on Thursday. The Lady Bulldogs may have been the most improved team throughout the regular season, and in doing so, gave Charleston a tough game on Tuesday. Waldron is coached extremely well, and the Lady Bulldogs should be rested and ready to play on Tuesday in the first round of state. They will face a number one seed in the state tournament, but the Lady Bulldogs will play hard and they have a legitimate chance to win.

Paris coach Jordan Devine believes her team is ready to defend its Class 3A state title. “Our goals are always the same, conference, district tournament, go on to state. So, this is a stepping stone in their journey this year. I think we have a few things we really have to tighten up on for next week. We’ve got some big competition coming in, you know, with teams coming in. So, yeah, if we tighten up a few things I think we will be fine.” When asked about who their first round opponent may be in the state tournament, Devine said, “We will be playing the third seed out of the central, and I believe that will be CAC (Central Arkansas Christian). I haven’t seen much of them. I think they were at the Preview Party (pre-season tournament of last year’s Class 3A state tournament teams) but they were in the opposite pool from us, so I didn’t get to see much of them, but, I’ll be calling around (other coaches who have played against CAC). We’re going to come in tomorrow (practice) and probably have a good practice tomorrow and we may go a little bit lighter on Monday. Like I said, we’ve got to clean some things up. So, we’re going to come in and go to work tomorrow.”

Look to Resident Press on Sunday afternoon for a preview of this year’s Class 3A state tournament. Match-ups, game times, and other information will be published for our readers.

Congratulations to Paris, Charleston, Mansfield and Waldron on successful seasons, and best of luck to all of them in next week’s state tournament!

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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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