By Richard Sharp
Lake Area Sports
The West Side, Shirley and Concord senior high varsity basketball teams tipped off their respective seasons this past week, turning the page to a new chapter in the history of roundball in the Natural State after COVID-19 brought a handful of the state championship games to a screeching halt back in March.
West Side’s Lady Eagles and Eagles split in their first contests of the new year as the Lady Eagles, whose 2020 campaign included district and regional championships and a trip to the Class 1A State Final Four, faced a worthy opponent in the defending state co-champion Valley Springs Lady Tigers, falling 63-47 before the Eagles collected a 77-52 triumph over the Tigers 77-52.
Both teams would hit the road once more the following week, renewing their rivalry with former conference mates Mt. Vernon-Enola, who recently moved to the the 1A-4 with the likes of Guy-Perkins, Nemo Vista, Oark, Sacred Heart, Scranton, Western Yell County and Wonderview.
MVE took both games from West Side, winning in girls 54-48 before the Warhawks posted a 76-69 triumph. Senior Kassidy McJunkins had 23 for the Lady Warhawks, while senior Kamryn Sutterfield put up 20 for the Lady Eagles. Senior Wesley Booker led all scorers in the boys game with 37 points as senior Malachi Miller paced the Eagles with 34.
Shirley welcomed Nemo Vista and Flippin to town, as the Lady Blue Devils fell to Nemo 41-36 in overtime, playing the entire extra session with only three players. Senior Ariel Privitt rang up 12 for Shirley. In senior boys action, the Red Hawks held on for their second victory with a 69-67 decision over the host. Blue Devil senior Nash Little scorched the net for 26 points.
Concord visited Nemo Vista before hosting South Side Bee Branch just two days later, as the Lady Pirates suffered two heartbreaking losses (38-33, 42-32) while the Pirates split on the week with a 73-70 defeat to Nemo Vista and a 58-44 win over SSBB. Senior Braxton Cousins, a two-time All-State selection, scored 20+ in both games to get his final season off to a strong start.
By Richard Sharp