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6A-West Conference to move ahead with league tournament

by Rick Fires | February 19, 2021 at 1:00 a.m.

Mother Nature has won.

Rather than fight the wintry weather that has gripped much of the region, athletic directors in the 6A-West Conference decided to cancel any remaining games left on the regular-season schedule. Teams will now advance to a conference tournament that'll begin Monday with first-round games and conclude with championship games on Friday in the girls' division and Saturday, Feb. 27, in the boys' division.

In the 6A-Central Conference, the girls will also hold a conference tournament beginning on Monday. However, the 6A-Central boys' teams will complete their regular season without a conference tournament.

On Wednesday, athletic directors from the 6A-West met virtually and decided to proceed straight to the conference tournament rather than take a chance with additional conference games with snow and ice still on the ground. All games scheduled for tonight have been canceled.

"After considerable collaboration and debate, the conference majority came to the difficult conclusion to forgo the remaining conference games and seed the 6A-West conference tournament beginning on Monday," Fayetteville Athletic Director Steve Janski said. "However, with the addition of a conference basketball tournament, we are excited to give this opportunity for all of our students to participate and compete for a chance to advance to the 6A state basketball tournament, which Fayetteville High School is excited to host."

The Bentonville boys and Fayetteville girls are No. 1 seeds for an inaugural conference tournament in the west, which was prompted by covid-19 restrictions. Teams with the higher seed will serve as hosts for tournament games.

"I think the tournament is great," Bentonville West boys coach Greg White said. "What I love about a conference tournament is this: It gives everyone a chance. A chance to get in the state tourney , a chance to improve your seed, and also that chance of an upset. We are thankful the league agreed to have a conference tournament."

Fort Smith Northside is the top seed for a 6A-Central Conference Tournament Feb. 22-26, but the boys will continue with regularly scheduled and makeup games. North Little Rock earned the No. 2 seed. Both Northside and North Little Rock have earned home berths in the semifinals.

The Fayetteville (13-6, 9-1) and Bentonville (14-3, 8-1) girls are the co-defending state champions in Class 6A and the two are top seeds on opposite sides of the bracket for the 6A-West Conference Tournament. The teams split two games in conference play, but Fayetteville gained the tie-breaker because the Lady Bulldogs were able to play one more league game than the Lady Tigers.

Fayetteville beat Bentonville at home Feb. 9 after losing at Bentonville Jan. 15.

"We are excited about how our team has progressed the last couple of months," Fayetteville coach Vic Rimmer said. "We like where we are entering postseason."

Northside (21-2, 11-1) heads the field for the 6A-Central tournament with standout players like Jersey Wolfenbarger and Tracy Berschers. But Northside is aware it could be challenged by a handful of teams, including Conway, which beat the Lady Bears 69-56 on their home court a week ago.

"We found that out against Conway, which got us pretty good," Northside coach Rickey Smith said. "They made 14 3-pointers and shot the ball very well, and we didn't play very well. It was a humbling experience."

Bentonville (18-1, 12-0) is ranked No. 1 in the boys overall statewide poll by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette after beating Rogers 46-35 in a makeup game last Saturday. But Fayetteville (18-5, 9-3), Springdale Har-Ber (16-6, 8-4) and Bentonville West (15-9, 8-4) are top contenders who could get hot during postseason play.

"Three of our (league) losses were strongly affected by covid-19," White said. "Two of those losses came with three starters out. People try to say players out for covid-19 are the same as an injury and it's not. You can't tape up covid-19 and play."

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At a glance

Class 6A Conference Tournaments

6A-West Conference

Boys

Monday, Feb. 22

Game 1 No. 8 FS Southside at No. 5 Rogers, 7 p.m.

Game 2 No. 7 Springdale at No. 6 Rogers Heritage, 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Feb. 23

Game 3 Game 1 winner at Springdale Har-Ber, 7:30 p.m.

Game 4 Game 2 winner at Bentonville West, 7 p.m.

Thursday, Feb. 25

Game 5 Game 3 winner at No. 1 Bentonville High, 7 p.m.

Game 6 Game 4 winner at No. 2 Fayetteville, 7 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 26

(games will be played at home of higher seed)

Game 7 Fifth-place game, 1 p.m.

Game 8 Third-place game, 1 p.m.

Game 9 Championship, 1 p.m.

Girls

Monday, Feb. 22

Game 1 No. 8 FS Southside at No. 5 Rogers Heritage, 6 p.m.

Game 2 No. 7 Springdale at No. 6 Bentonville West, 7 p.m.

Tuesday, Feb. 23

Game 3 Game 1 winner at No. 4 Springdale Har-Ber, 6 p.m.

Game 4 Game 2 winner at No. 3 Rogers, 7 p.m.

Wednesday, Feb. 24

Game 5 Game 3 winner at No. 1 Fayetteville, 7 p.m.

Game 6 Game 4 winner at No. 2 Bentonville, 7 p.m.

Friday, Feb. 26

(games will be played at home of higher seed)

Game 7 Fifth-place game, 7 p.m.

Game 8 Third-place game, 7 p.m.

Game 9 Championship, 7 p.m.

6A-Central Conference

Girls

Monday, Feb. 22

Game 1 Mount St. Mary at Cabot

Game 2 LR Southwest at Bryant

Tuesday, Feb. 23

Game 3 Game 1 winner at LR Central

Game 4 Game 2 winner at Conway

Thursday, Feb. 25

Game 5 Game 3 winner at FS Northside

Game 6 Game 4 winner at North Little Rock

Friday, Feb. 26

Fifth Place

Game 7 Game 3 loser vs. Game 4 loser

Third Place

Game 8 Game 5 loser vs. Game 6 loser

Championship

Game 9 Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner

  • Higher seeds will host games 7-9

All games start at 6 p.m.

* The 6A-Central Conference will not have a boys conference tournament

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