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CAC GIRLS BASKETBALL Mustangs draw Crossett in regional’s first round

Central Arkansas Christian’s Lady Mustangs will carry the No. 2 seed from the 7-4A District Tournament into this week’s Class 4A South Regional Tournament at Nashville.

Steve Quattlebaum’s Lady Mustangs, runner-up in the 7-4A conference race and last week’s district tournament, will take a 21-5 overall record into the regional. They must win Thursday’s opener against Crossett, third seed from the 8-4A, to reach next week’s Class 4A State Tournament at Lonoke.

“We’re all pretty healthy, about as healthy as we’ve been all year,” Quattlebaum said Monday. “We’re ready. We’ll get a little work in this week and see if we can’t win the next game.”

Game time is set for 7 p.m.

The Lady Eagles are about .500 overall, Quattlebaum said, but had a better record in 8-4A conference play. That conference doesn’t play a district tournament but instead seeds for the regional based on the conference schedule.

“I think we might be a little deeper through eight teams,” Quattlebaum said of the comparison between the 7 and 8. “I think we’ve got a chance to win two or three of the regional games. Star City is the best one out of that group.

Other first-round regional games included Malvern, No. 1 from the 7, against Warren (the fourth seed from the 8); Star City, No. 1 from the 8, against Bauxite, fourth from the 7; and Dumas, second from the 8, against Nashville, third from the 7. First-round winners will meet in Friday’s semifinals, with the championship and consolation games set for Saturday.

Should CAC win the opener, the Lady Mustangs would likely see Star City in the semifinals and then could face Malvern again in the regional championship.

Quattlebaum said he had watched Star City play earlier in the season.

“They’ve been in the state finals two or three years out of the last four or five, but they’re not quite as strong as they’ve been,” he said. “But they’ve still got a good record.”

The Lady Bulldogs, like Malvern, swept through their league schedule unbeaten.

CAC beat Bauxite, 44-30, in last week’s regular-season finale in a game that was a make-up date because of bad weather a few weeks earlier. That gave the Lady Mustangs a 12-2 run through the conference schedule as they lost only to Malvern, the defending Class 4A state champion, which swept through the league unbeaten.

As the No. 2 seed in the district tournament, also at Nashville, the Lady Mustangs had a bye to the semifinals, where they took care of Bauxite again, 40-20. Chloe Elkins scored 13 to lead CAC; Sydnie Jones added 11 and Falan Miller 10.

That gave them another shot at Malvern, which had won five straight in the series dating to last season. But CAC got off to a slow start while the Lady Leopards elevated their game, and Malvern settled for a 42-30 decision for its sixth consecutive win over the Lady Mustangs.

“They jumped on us quick,” Quattlebaum said. “They got up 7-0 before we got a shot off. It was 16-2 at one time.

“But from the first quarter on, we played pretty even. We struggled to score. We didn’t’ play terrible; we just spotted them 12 points to start with, and we lost by 12.”

Jones led the Lady Mustang scoring with 16 points.

“I was kind of proud of our kids,” Quattlebaum said. “We could’ve gotten beat pretty soundly. It could’ve been over at halftime if we didn’t get going.

“We’ll probably get another shot at them. We’ll see.”

CAC fell in the semifinals of both the district and regional tournaments last year.

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