It's 8-4A conference tournament time for the Dollarway Cardinals and first-year Head Coach James Jones. The Cardinals pushed their way through a season where they took their lumps early, but they managed to finish on the right foot.
Dollarway will open tournament play today against the Crossett Golden Eagles in a battle of No. 3 seeds at Dumas High School.
Winners of three out of their last four, the Cardinals believe they finally have it rolling. For their season's sake, that's their best case, as they are now in a win or go home for the year situation.
The 8-4A conference tournament is made up of two regions, the North and South. The Cardinals are the No. 3 seed of the North region, along with No. 1 Star City, No. 2 Dumas and No. 4 DeWitt. The winner of the North region plays the winner of the South region, made up of No. 1 Monticello, No. 2 Warren, No. 3 Crossett, and No. 4 Hamburg.
The No. 1 seeds have automatically advanced to the Regional tournament next week in Monticello from Wednesday-Saturday. The No. 2 seeds have to win at least one game to advance to the Regional, while the No. 3 and 4 seeds have to win at least two games to advance.
Dollarway hasn't played Crossett this season, but they've watched film on them, and Jones thinks they match up well. The one player for the Golden Eagles that they'll be keyed in on is senior guard Kyler Canley.
"They're kind of like us," Jones said. "Record-wise, we pretty much had the same type of regular season. They're on a two-game losing steak, and we've won three out of our last four, so we're looking to ride that wave. We match up with them as far as size. They have a guard that can shoot the ball pretty well, and we have to make sure we stop him."
This could possibly be the final game of the high school careers of five Dollarway seniors. The leader of the group, senior guard Teon Johnson, scored 30 points in the final game of the season at DeWItt, and he doesn't want his season to end.
Along with Johnson, junior guard Kavarious Lowe is a guy who Jones is saying that they have to have at his best.
"I'm looking for Lowe to step up and score more points driving to the basket," Jones said. "Teon said he's going to give it all he's got because you never know if this could be his last game. He's coming off a big night down at DeWitt. At the same time, we have to make it where they have to guard everybody on the floor."
Being a No. 3 seed and having to win two games is a tough task for the Cardinals, but they're facing it head on.
"Our motto is survive and advance, and we're rolling with it," Jones said.
All games of the of the 8-4A conference tournament will be held at Dumas High School, and the Cardinals and Golden Eagles are set for a 5:30 p.m. tip.