By Richard Sharp
Lake Area Sports
MT. VERNON-Following the disbandment of the Greers Ferry Lake Classic, the Mt. Vernon-Enola School District has stepped up to the plate to host the MVE Holiday Tournament, bringing area schools such as Concord, Quitman, Conway Christian, Sacred Heart, Nemo Vista, Johnson County Westside and Midland to town, with the event running from December 27 to 30.
First round action will kickoff with the host Lady Warhawks taking on former conference mate Nemo Vista at 10:00 AM. MVE has gotten off to a hot 15-1 start, holding an unbeaten 8-0 record at home while outscoring opponents by a 923-601 tally. The Lady Warhawks will look to their senior trio of Hanna Brock, Alyse Ellis and Olivia Booker for leadership while getting contributions from juniors Kassidy McJunkins, Brooke Adcock and Kenlie Raby. The Lady Redhawks have struggled to a 1-15 mark thus far in 2020, looking to get back on track in a decade where they hauled in three consecutive state championships.
Moving on to boys action, Nemo Vista (9-7) will take the floor against Sacred Heart (8-8) at 11:15 in a battle of two teams fighting for position in their respective conferences. Nemo head coach Drew Blocker, who was a standout player at his alma mater of MVE, will seek productive play from senior Hank Pruitt.
Sacred Heart’s Lady Rebels (10-6) and Conway Christian’s Lady Eagles (4-7) will duel at 12:30, the young core of Sacred Heart started 2020 at 5-0 but have struggled in recent games against 1A-5 competition, falling to the likes of Concord, West Side, Shirley and MVE. Conway Christian stands at 1-1 in the tough 2A-5 North league, falling to White County Central before winning against South Side Bee Branch. The Lady Rebels were victorious over the Lady Eagles in the first matchup between the two squads back on December 5 in a 63-54 decision.
Up next will be the Warhawks squaring off against Conway Christian (0-7) The Eagles remain winless while being outscored 442-293, facing a big test in playing a MVE team that has picked up quality wins agains Concord, Wonderview and Shirley in 1A-5 play, taking on other quality opponents in White County Central, Nevada and West Side. Junior Wesley Booker will look to carry the reins while getting help from seniors Jasper Lasley and Wayce Howard as well as Adam Felton.
The Concord Lady Pirates (13-2) and Johnson County Westside Lady Rebels (2-8) will link up at 3:00 PM, followed by the Pirates and Rebels at 4:15 PM. Concord coach Cary Cossey has guided the Lady Pirates to the top spot of the 1A-5 at 7-1, racking up triumphs over Mt. Vernon-Enola, West Side, Shirley, Rural Special and Sacred Heart thanks in big part to the play of the senior quartet of Ashlyn Deckard, Avery Southerland, Annalise Cornett and Jaylyn Jefferson and junior Abi West.
The Pirates (13-2) are also in the driver’s seat of the conference with wins against West Side, Shirley, and Wonderview, riding a seven-game winning streak at the time of this publication. Concord’s lone two losses came by a single possession each to White County Central (33-32) and Mt. Vernon-Enola (61-58). The brother duo of Bryar and Braxton Cousins as well as the senior trio of Rodney Brock, Hunter Spinks and Dillion Helms have been consistent in their onslaught of games, winning 13 of their last 14 contests. Westside (7-4) started out 0-1 before reeling off five wins in six games.
Quitman’s Lady Bulldogs (9-2) will look to continue their recent string of success in tournament play with a first-round showdown with Midland (5-6) at 5:30 PM, coming in as three-time defending champions of the now-defunct Greers Ferry Lake Classic, also hauling in numerous conference, district and regional crowns along the way. Eight seniors have played multiple roles throughout the year in Autumn Johnson, Lucy Holland, Halley Bennett, Erin Stephens, Carson Rackley, Gracie Smith, Haley Trawick and Laney Goff along with sophomore floor general and multi-sport phenom Taylor Hooten.
The nightcap game will feature the Quitman Bulldogs (10-3) and the Midland Mustangs (4-6) at 6:45 PM. Sharpshooter Zac Shue and classmate Ethan Brantley will look to carry the torch for Quitman, who has compiled key victories against 3A contender Valley Springs, White County Central, St. Joseph and Des Arc, looking for a third straight trip to the Class 2A State Tournament. The Bulldogs advanced to the second round of the big dance for the first time in school history in 2019.
Catch of all of the action at www.lakeareasports.com or on Facebook at “Lake Area Sports”.