The Bergman Panthers defeated the Charleston Tigers Thursday afternoon in the boys side of the Class 3A-1 regional tournament by a score of 62-52. The game featured the second-seeded Panthers and the third-seeded Tigers. Bergman will now move on to play #1 seed Elkins who defeated #4 seed Mountain View 59-31. Elkins will play Bergman today at 5:30 p.m.
In other boys action on Thursday, the #3 seed Clinton Yellowjackets pulled the mild upset over the #2 seed Waldron Bulldogs by the score of 70-60. Clinton will now move on to play #1 Valley Springs tonight at 8:30 p.m. Elkins is the only remaining team of the Class 3A-1 conference’s tri-champions who is still alive to compete for a regional championship and the state tournament next week.
Charleston fought hard for the entire game, but struggled to get shots to go down, and seemingly had no answer for the Panthers quick transition game that frequently resulted in easy points at close range to the basket. Bergman has tall, athletic player that run the court well, and as a team, the Panthers play hard-nosed, pressure defense, contesting every pass and shot. By the end of the first half, Charleston found itself down 29-15.
But the Tigers came out of the halftime locker room determined to get back into the game. As the intensity went to an even higher level in the third quarter, Charleston began to claw their way back into the game. A few more shots began to fall, and it was the Tiger who were now getting the best of Bergman on the defensive end of the court. By the end of the third quarter, Charleston had reduced the lead to nine points and was riding momentum going into the fourth quarter.
But during the time out between quarters, a bench technical foul was assessed against Charleston. Both coaches had been unhappy with the officiating up to that point. Bergman was awarded two technical free throws. Bergman hit one of two attempts, and the lead was back to double-digits to start the fourth quarter.
Charleston continued to fight and was able to reduce the lead a few more times to single digits, but in the end, time ran out, and the Tigers could never quite get over the hump to complete the comeback. The result was a ten-point regional loss that ended the state tournament hopes of the Tigers, and ended the high school playing careers of the Charleston seniors.
Charleston was a team of over-achievers all season, and they were a lot of fun to watch. Very few people picked Charleston to win a share of the conference title and to be in contention this far into regional tournament play. The seniors on this team are hurting now, but they will soon look back and take pride in a conference championship and leading their team to a bright future. As a reporter that covered this team all season, I want to congratulate not only the seniors, but the entire team and coaching staff for a great season. And now, the focus will be on the Lady Tigers as they continue play in the regional and into next week’s state tournament.
The Lady Tigers will play today at 4 p.m. in the second round of the regional tournament. Charleston, one of the tournament’s #1 seeds, will play #2 seed Mountain View. The winner of this game will advance to the regional final on Saturday at 6 p.m. If the Lady Tigers were to lose today, they would play in the consolation game to determine the #3 seed in next week’s state tournament. The consolation game will be played on Saturday at 12 p.m. So, Charleston fans, the Lady Tigers will play today and tomorrow, and the stakes are high with respect to seeding in next week’s state tournament. The Lady Tigers need their fans to show up big today as Charleston will be playing the top teams in the state the next two days.
Mountain View is ranked number one in Arkansas in Class 3A by Max Preps. The Yellowjackets regular season record was 23-4 overall and 11-1 in conference play. Their only conference loss of the year was to Valley Springs on February 22 in their district tournament. Valley Springs defeated Mountain View 60-31.
In today’s other girls semifinal game, #1 seed Valley Springs will play #3 seed Rose Bud at 7 p.m.
The regional tournament is now down to teams that will be playing in next week’s state tournament field. A victory today and tomorrow can position a team well with a favorable path to Hot Springs. If you are a fan of high school basketball, you will not want to miss the quality teams that will be playing today and tomorrow in Waldron.
Congratulations to all of the tournament teams, and congratulations to coach B.J. Ross and the Charleston Tigers boys for a great season!