Introdutions and scouting reports are not needed when Conway and North Little Rock meet for the 7A state girls championship at 2:30 p.m. for the opening salvos of Arkansas state championship weekend.
In addition to a game featuring one of the best girls basketball rivalries in the state, there is a unique family touch this year.
After a year's absence after three straight appearances in the championship game, CHS coach Ashley Nance will take a team back to the title game in the first official game of the day Thursday. Nance[s father, John Hutchcraft, will close the weekend of 14 championship games over three days by coaching his last game. He will lead the Guy-Perkins boys against Izard County about 7:45 p.m. Saturday. Hutchcraft is retiring after 42 years of coaching.
Earlier Saturday at 2:30 p.m., Mount Vernon-Enola's girls will make their first state championship appearance in the 1A girls title game against Wonderview.
In a Special Olympics Unified Game at 1 p.m. Thursday, Vilonia will play Bryant.
The Conway girls and North Little Rock's Lady Charging Wildcats, who are making their second straight appearance in the championship game, have battled for several years for supremacy in 7A Central, each sharing the conference title this season with Fort Smith Northside. The Lady Cats got the No. 1 seed on a tiebreaker while North Little Rock was No. 2.
The teams split during the regular season with Conway winning at North Little Rock, 72-68, and North Little Rock winning at Conway, 69-64.
"I think both teams are playing their best basketball and are probably the two best teams," said NLR coach Daryl Fimple. "But the only thing normal about games we play is the games are not normal. Crazy things happen."
It's been a magical run for the Lady Cats just to get to Hot Springs.
"If you would have told me this before the season, I wouldn't have believed you," Nance said. "I would have told you we would be lucky to be .500. We had one returning starter (Myia Yelder) and four other starters who were coming off the JV team. These girls have played wih a lot of heart and fun to coach. So, I'm real happy with where we are. "
Yo'Myris Morris, North Little Rock's standout post who is headed for TCU, did not play in the first game between the teams.
"They (Lady Charging Wildcats) are really good and a tough matchup for us because of their size and they are so deep," Nance said. "We've got to hit shots — 3-pointers are our a game. But Hot Springs is a hard arena to shoot well in. Because of how the arena is set up and the background, most teams have problems shooting in there.
"Rebouinding is a key because 'Yummy' (Morris) is such a presence."
"We got to contain their guards, which is tough because they can both shoot and penetrate and attack the basket," said Fimple.
Nance will get and day-and-a-half break then get to watch her father go for his 12th state title, either boys or girls.
Izard County defeated the Mount Vernon-Enola boys in the semifinals. Guy-Perkins and MV-Enola were 2-2 against eAach other.
"All I need to know about Izard County is they beat Mount Vernon-Enola," Hutchcraft said. "Mount Vernon-Enola (a longtime county rival) was good.
"The only thing that would have made thi absolutely perfect was for us to play Mount Vernon-Enola for the championship. I was hoping to go out against them. But I'm good. I'm blessed."