In spite of the snow and questionable travel, the 13th First Security Battle at the Brier went off well Thursday through Saturday.
Three games did not take place the first round because of dropouts. Greenbrier High’s athletic staff scrambled hard to come up with replacements, and they did. One of the fill-ins, Sheridan, took home the boys championship.
Attendance was below par for the tournament, and there are two explanations. One was the weather. The other was that no Faulkner County squads were in the finals for the second consecutive year. Local teams mean more people in the stands, straight and simple.
Ashlyn Hightower of the Vilonia Lady Eagles set a Battle at the Brier record for 3-point goals when she hit six against Searcy.
Four players held the old mark of five — Tori Duncan of Guy-Perkins, Constance Alcon of Vilonia twice, Alaina Riley of Vilonia and McKenzie Gray of Vilonia, who tied the mark two days earlier in this tournament.
The standout individual player of the latest Battle at the Brier may have been Searcy boys guard Emaje Young, a quick and talented 6-2 junior. In three games he scored 63 points while drawing the focus of defenders. He pulled in a passel of rebounds, too.
His first name is pronounced ee-MAH-jee. Watch for his performances in the future.
Always a highlight of the Brier games is the First Security Bank’s airplane toss. Fans in the stands make planes from folded paper and aim them at prizes on the playing court. Some fly well. Some are, well, laughable.
A wise spectator next time could practice beforehand and perhaps come up with an accurate entry.
Guy-Perkins’ boys played champion Sheridan closer than the Yellowjackets’ foe in the finals, Searcy. Guy’s leading scorers were two sophomores, Hayden Long and Justin Tims, and a freshman, Timothy Campbell.
Veteran John Hutchcraft isn’t coaching the Thunderbird boys this year, and his successor, Damon Teas, has the nucleus of a competitive team in the well-known tradition of Guy-Perkins.
NO HOME COOKING
Basketball tournament brackets usually are drawn up for the advantage of the host when possible. Greenbrier’s boys were scheduled to play Hazen in the opening round, and Hazen canceled because of the snow as did Mountain View, matched against Guy-Perkins.
Late replacement Sheridan could have been put in the slot against Guy, but the tournament folks chose to have Sheridan play Greenbrier instead of letting the home team win by forfeit. Sheridan whipped Greenbrier and went on to the title.
Girls champion Rogers Heritage and boys winner Sheridan had a common trait — multiple effective players as well as bench strength.
Heritage is still new to sports fans. It’s the northwest Arkansas city’s second high school, and it already is a contender in several girls and boys sports.