Wildcats hosting Vilonia
There weren't any drastic changes made between the Little Rock Fair and Dumas games by the Watson Chapel Wildcats (1-3). Head Coach Marcelle Goins simply stated that in their 83-72 win over Dumas, they made shots.
Tonight, the Wildcats will host the Vilonia Eagles (5-1) in a non-conference affair.
In the few practices leading up to Hot Springs ESPN Trojan Hoop Fest, Goins and his guys discussed the missed shots and how much they affected their flow. Goins didn't worry about the shots falling, and they spent their time working on defense.
"We did talk about the easy shots that we missed against Fair," Goins said. "But in practice leading up to Saturday, we just worked on defense. We still made a couple mistakes against Dumas, but not as many. The difference was we knocked down shots."
Another difference may have been the presence of their big man Willie Vaughn. The 6'6 senior missed the game against Fair but returned to play limited minutes against Dumas, and he was productive.
"He came back, and he was big for us on the glass," Goins said. "He finished with 11 rebounds, which is a plus. He has to do that with his length and height. Like I told him, he should be averaging a double-double with the way we play. He's like 75 percent right now."
According to Goins, the Wildcats are at their best when they're making things happen in transition. On defense, they want to cause havoc, but they must avoid foul trouble in order to fully commit to the attack.
"We want to play fast," Goins said. "We want to get up and down. We have to stay out of foul trouble, and it's a lot of work to be done. It's early in the season and we still have a long way to go."
Vilonia won't come in and overwhelm the Wildcats with athleticism or size, but Goins is aware that all of their guys can shoot the basketball. Also, the Eagles like to mix it up with their defensive scheme in attempts to take the opponent out of their offensive flow.
"They like to run a zone defense, 1-2-2 trap," Goins said. "Every player that steps on the floor can shoot the three so we have to be on them on the catch to make them put the ball on the floor."
Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m.
Dollarway hosting Dumas
First-year Head Coach James Jones and the Dollarway Cardinals (0-5) have started slow out the gate. The Cardinals recently competed in the Fordyce FB&T Classic, dropping their final game to Harmony Grove 59-27 in the consolation bracket.
Tonight, Dollarway will play host to their long-time rivals, the Dumas Bobcats (3-1).
Jones credits some of the early struggles to team cohesion and guys simply not being mentally focused.
"It's more of a mental thing for some of our guys, because they've never played on this level," Jones said.
Dumas won't take the Cardinals lightly just based on their record. The two rivals met three times last season, and in the third matchup, the Bobcats eliminated the Cardinals from the 8-4A district tournament.
"It's a rivalry game," Jones said. "It's been that way for the longest, and it's always an intense game. I know they'll play hard. It's good we get them at home first this season."
Dumas Head Coach Larry Harris has renewed energy into the Bobcats basketball program. Harris has a son on the team who happens to be the team's leader on the court, sophomore Chris Harris.
"I think that we'll match up with them evenly with the big guy in the middle being gone," Jones said. "We just have to make sure we contain the Harris kid."
Jones is expecting a spurt in production across the board as senior guard Teon Johnson makes his season debut. Sophomore Antonio Brown has gotten the attention of Jones, and he wants to see him continue to get better.
"Teon Johnson will be coming off the five-game suspension," Jones said. "He should give us a boost in a lot of different areas. I expect Antonio Brown to come off the bench and give us some production. He's athletic and tall."
Tip-off between Dumas and Dollarway is set for 7 p.m.
White Hall hosting Stuttgart
The White Hall Bulldogs (3-1) have gotten off to a good start this season, winning three of their first four games.
Bulldogs Head Coach Mark Stringer also understands that they haven't played anyone that has really given them the challenge that he expects when they host the Stuttgart Rice Birds (3-0) tonight at home.
"We're fortunate to be 3-1, realistically we should be 4-0," Stringer said. "We lost one we shouldn't have against Mountain Pine late in the game. Tomorrow will be our first test. We haven't played tough competition yet, and Stuttgart will give us an athletic look that we'll see from teams during conference."
Against Mountain Pine, the Bulldogs were up four points but ended up letting the game slip up away to lose 53-52 in the Lakeside Classic in Hot Springs. The Bulldogs have beaten the Lakeside Rams twice this season, and they also took down DeWitt in their season opener.
Stringer highlighted the fact that they have an interior presence that they didn't have in years past. With a number of experienced upperclassmen on the roster, Stringers' expectations for this group have risen.
"I've got a lot of seniors returning, and a lot of juniors coming back as well," Stringer said. "Experience-wise we should be a lot better than what we've been. For the first time since I've been here I have a little bit of size. I think our strength is going to be on the inside."
According to Stringer, captains have been named, but he's still waiting on that leader to emerge. Three guys that he mentioned who could take on that role are senior forward Quentin Urquhart, senior guard Ollie Reddick and senior forward Devin Koonce.
"We are still looking for someone that we can hang our hat on as the leader," Stringer said. "That being said, I have seven or eight guys in the locker room that are seniors that have been through it. I have a core of guys that I hope can get it done. Quentin Urquhart is going to have to be leaned on quite a bit. Ollie Reddick being able to handle the ball has been good for us, and it has settled us down. Devin Koonce is a big-body kid, and he doesn't get rattled easily."
Stuttgart enters the game under the direction of Lance Davis. The Rice Birds have yet to drop a game this season, and Stringer expects them to present athleticism.
"It's a real good test," Stringer said. "We've gotten off to a quick start and now we'll take a step up in competition against a team that's going to be a 4A playoff team. They have length, and they're athletic. It's a measuring stick for sure."
Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.