Two highly regarded juniors from opposite sides of the state will square off against each other in today’s John Stanton Classic in Conway.
Chris Moore, a 6-6 forward from West Memphis, and Jaylin Williams, a 6-10 post player from Fort Smith Northside, are drawing plenty of attention from college coaches, including the University of Arkansas.
Northside Coach Eric Burnett says Williams has earned the attention.
“You can’t coach 6-10,” Burnett said. “He gets out on the press. He makes moves around the basket. He’s a good passer. I can see where college coaches would really like to have him because they can put some weight on him and make him stronger.”
Moore sports an impressive resume. He was the All-Arkansas Preps Sophomore of the Year last season, leading the Blue Devils to a 29-4 record and to a state championship appearance.
“In our last six games, each team we’ve played has had a quality player,” Burnett said. “This is nothing new for us and we like to see it. We’re working on getting better and getting our chemistry together.”
Northside (6-3) is coming off a consolation-tournament finish in Blue Springs, Mo., last weekend. In a 71-55 victory over Jefferson City, Mo., in the fifth-place game, the Grizzlies had four players score 10 or more points, including 24 from senior point guard Javion Releford.
“What’s typical of us is that I don’t know who’s going to be our leading scorer on a nightly basis,” Burnett said. “I just find someone who’s rolling and stay with them.”
Northside is scheduled to play West Memphis (8-1) at 7 p.m. today and Van Buren (4-4) at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.
A big turnaround
The Bigelow Lady Panthers are three victories away from matching last season’s win total, but Coach Russell Paulley said his team’s sudden success is not a total surprise.
“You try not to think about it to be honest,” Paulley said. “I knew we were going to be good. I knew we were going to have a lot of fun this year, but you try not to look at the rankings or the records.”
Bigelow finished 13-17 last season, but advanced to the second round of the state tournament. The Lady Panthers are currently 10-0 and seven of those victories have been by 17 or more points.
Sophomore Jill Nutt has been a big part of the Lady Panthers’ start. She scored 24 points in Wednesday’s 58-41 victory over Rose Bud in the semifinals of the Conway Christian Invitational.
“She’s a great shooter, but what she’s developed between her junior high and senior high years has been her vision,” Paulley said. “She sees the court real well. She can get to the rim some now. She’s going to be a special player.”
Paulley said the team has thrived because the Lady Panthers have some depth.
“It helps when you’re playing three games in three nights like we have this week,” Paulley said. “It helps to play a bunch of girls and keep them fresh.”
Bigelow’s week is far from over. The Lady Panthers play Maumelle Charter in a 2A-5 Conference game tonight and Harding Academy on Saturday in the Conway Christian Invitational Tournament championship game.
League play comes early
Playing conference games before January is something new for Pulaski Academy, but with the classification shakeup by the Arkansas Activities Association, the Bruins are hoping the adjustments can be favorable.
“Ready or not, here they come,” said Lady Bruins Coach Rick Treadway, whose team hosts unbeaten Stuttgart (10-0) in a 4A-5 game tonight. “We’re young but I like our kids. They’re coming around and I think before all’s said and done we’ll be a good team.”
The Lady Bruins (2-4) are coming off a 53-45 road victory over Central Arkansas Christian. Senior guard Mattie Hatcher scored 19 of her game-high 25 points in the second half. Hatcher was 14 of 19 from the free-throw line.
Pulaski Academy is the only team in the 4A-5 conference that has yet to play a league game.
“I haven’t said this in a lot of years but we’ve got a conference game before Christmas,” said Coach Roger Franks, whose boys are 3-1. “But dropping to [Class] 4A leaves us no choice.”
Mountain View senior Kaley Shipman was named the Most Valuable Player of the Lyon College Invitational in Batesville for the third consecutive year after the Lady Yellowjackets defeated Melbourne 62-49 in Wednesday’s championship game. Shipman scored 19 points as Mountain View won its ninth consecutive game and improved to 9-2. … Fort Smith Northside’s Lady Bears are ranked No. 13 nationally in the latest MaxPreps Xcellent 25 poll. … Behind 23 points from junior Alex Mero, Mammoth Spring captured the boys championship Wednesday night in the Battle of the Border in Mammoth Spring defeating Liberty, Mo., 66-64 in the title game.
At a glance
JOHN STANTON CLASSIC
Conway High School
Bryant vs. Rogers Heritage, 4 p.m. (Arena)
LR Central vs. Van Buren, 5 p.m. (HS gym)
Jonesboro vs. Fayetteville, 5:30 p.m. (Arena)
FS Southside vs. Bentonville, 6:30 p.m. (HS gym)
FS Northside vs. West Memphis, 7 p.m. (Arena)
Conway vs. Springdale Har-Ber, 8:30 p.m. (Arena)
SATURDAY’S GAMES All played at Buzz Bolding Arena
Fayetteville vs. LR Central, 11 a.m.
Van Buren vs. FS Northside, 12:30 p.m.
Rogers Heritage vs. LR Catholic, 2 p.m.
Bentonville vs. North Little Rock, 3:30 p.m.
Conway vs. West Memphis, 5 p.m.
Springdale Har-Ber vs. Bryant, 6:30 p.m.
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