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River Valley Prep Report: Northside gym debut is delayed

by Leland Barclay | January 14, 2022 at 7:00 a.m.

FORT SMITH – Fort Smith Northside's new gymnasium is all dressed up and nowhere to go.

Northside was to host Conway on Friday in the debut of the new 2,350-seat, $14.5 million gymnasium, but Conway cancelled school Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, which also eliminated school activities.

Northside tried to juggle the conference schedule around to schedule a different opponent with possible postponements around the state to fill the spot but to no avail.

"We wanted to find a team in our conference but everybody is playing," Northside girls basketball coach Rickey Smith said.

Cabot is the next opponent scheduled to play at Northside on Jan. 25.

The Lady Bears (14-0, 2-0 6A-Central) had their game at Mount Saint Mary Academy postponed on Tuesday due to Covid. Coupled with Friday's postponements, that would mean an entire week without games.

Northside is scheduled to make up that game on January 19, and both teams are scheduled to travel to North Little Rock on January 21.

The Grizzles (9-9, 2-1) did at least get to play on Tuesday, defeating Little Rock Catholic, 58-50, with seniors Dae'Marion Savoy scoring 21 points and Walker Catsavis adding 14.

Greenwood-Vilonia showdown

With the game between No. 1 Conway and No. 3 Northside postponed on Friday, the 5A-West showdown of the Greenwood Lady Bulldogs at Vilonia on Friday is the biggest game in the state.

Vilonia is ranked No. 1 in Class 5A and Greenwood is No. 2 in the latest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette rankings.

Vilonia defeated Greenwood, 45-38, in the championship game of the Beebe Holiday Tournament during Christmas break. Greenwood led 26-24 at the half, but Vilonia outscored the Lady Bulldogs, 22-11 in the second half.

"I feel good from watching the tape," Greenwood coach Clay Reeves said. "I know we got beat, but the basic thing we missed too many free throws, missed two or three layups that we always make, and missed open shots that we generally hit. It wasn't like there were all of these things, a bunch of X's and O's differences that we need to make. We got the shots we wanted. That's the positive that I see out of it."

The Lady Bulldogs were 4-of-11 from the free-throw line and just 2-of-23 from beyond the three-point arc.

"Our kids played as hard as they've played all year," Reeves said. "We got tons of shots, but shots just didn't fall."

The Lady Eagles opened conference play with wins over Alma, 58-36, and Mountain Home, 35-23.

The Lady Bulldogs (10-5, 1-0) defeated Van Buren, 49-23, in their conference opener on Tuesday, using a 20-1 scoring advantage in the third quarter.

"They came out and played with a lot more energy and a little more intensity," Reeves said. "They got up and down the floor and hit some shots. There weren't any adjustments. They just knew what they needed to do."

Booneville idle week

The Booneville Lady Bearcats finally met their match this week: Covid.

After winning their first 14 games of the season, the Booneville Lady Bearcats are idle this week with postponements of game at Waldron on Tuesday and at home against Paris on Friday.

"I'm concerned," Booneville Lady Bearcats coach Tim Goers said. "When you've been on a roll like this, you want everything to stay normal. There are teams in our conference that are getting better. You don't want to lose your momentum."

In the meantime, the Lady Bearcats (14-0, 4-0 3A-4) have stayed focused.

"The girls worked really hard as usual," Goers said. "They know what their goals are, and they're going to stay goal-driven and move on to the next one to achieve those goals. They're fine."

Heaven Sanchez leads the Lady Bearcats averaging 14.2 points per game. Leigh Swint averaged 9.6 points and 5.2 rebounds per night. Joleigh Tate, the Most Valuable Player of the Bill Frye Invitational at Mansfield, averages 9.1 points and a team-high 5.6 boards.

Booneville will return to the floor when it hosts rival Charleston on Jan. 11.

The Bearcats (9-4, 3-1) suffered their first conference loss of the season on Tuesday at Hackett, 55-54, but remains in a tie for first place on the loss side in the standings.

Booneville will host the 3A-1 Region Tournament.

"That's great for us," Goers said. "It's a great environment. We don't have one of those big gyms. We have a traditional high-school sized gym. The great thing is you get that high school environment. It's going to be loud. It's going to be fun."

The district tournament will be held at Cedarville.

"It's very, very important to get a high seed coming out of our district," Goers said. "We're matched up with the Bergman and Valley Springs district in the regional tournament. They're very highly ranked."

Lost week for Alma

The Airedales first had their home 5A-West opener on Tuesday wiped out when Siloam Springs postponed due to Covid protocols.

Then Alma postponed its games at Russellville on Friday night.

The Airedales (3-8, 0-1) opened the season last week at Vilonia and dropped a 62-30 decision.

The Lady Airedales (7-7. 0-2) did play their home conference opener on Tuesday, falling, 53-36, to Siloam Springs despite a 10-0 lead to start the game. The Lady Panthers scored the final nine points of the first quarter and took a 26-14 halftime lead.

Alma hosts Van Buren on Tuesday in the renewal of the Battle of Crawford County.

Van Buren

Van Buren's wrestling program was going to have a big week.

They were scheduled for a dual at Poteau, Okla., on Tuesday, was going to host Lake Hamilton and Hot Springs on Thursday and then hold a two-day Dual meet on Friday and Saturday with several schools.

All were cancelled due to covid-19 issues.

"Too many teams backed out," Van Buren athletic director Drew Cone said. "The coaches are trying to reschedule the dual meet."

Van Buren will celebrate basketball homecoming on Friday when the Lady Pointers and Pointers host Mountain Home.

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