1. Lady Wildcats still number 1
1. Lady Wildcats still number 1
Where else could the success of the 2010-11 Watson Chapel girls basketball team be other than atop this list?
The Lady Wildcats found themselves in a familiar spot on March 11, on the middle of the floor hoisting a state championship trophy. This time, it was the 5A trophy, after Watson Chapel beat Alma 67-56 at Summit Arena in Hot Springs.
It was the third time in four seasons and second straight season that the Lady Wildcats were champs. They finished the season 27-4 and ran the 5A-Southeast Conference table at 14-0.
Tatiyana Brown and Brittney Gill accounted for 50 of Watson Chapel’s points. Brown scored 27 of them and was named the game’s MVP, hitting four free throws in the final 1:43 to put away the Airedalettes. Both players played on all three of Watson Chapel’s title teams.
Field-goal shooting didn’t hurt the Lady Wildcats, either. They hit 55 percent (22 of 40) from the floor and held the Airedalettes to 37 percent (20 of 54).
2. Lions’ postgame brawl
The mood on the home side of Golden Lion Stadium went from stunned to jubilant to embarrassed in a matter of moments.
Sylvester Nzekwe caught an 11-yard touchdown pass as time expired to pull Southern within 22-21 against Arkansas-Pine Bluff in an Oct. 15 football game. But UAPB blocked the extra-point attempt to win it.
It got ugly from there. A 10-minute brawl between the teams erupted, leading to suspensions of 40 players — 25 from UAPB and 15 from Southern — for one to two games by the SWAC. Five UAPB players were handed two-game suspensions for using “excessive force,” including swinging helmets. The SWAC later staggered the penalties over the next three games for both teams.
UAPB finished 6-5, its first winning season since 2006.
3. Lady Lions best in SWAC
A season earlier, UAPB was upset on its home field by Mississippi Valley State in the semifinals of the SWAC women’s soccer tournament.
Revenge was twice as nice for the Lady Lions in 2011, as they beat Valley 1-0 in the regular season and 3-0 in the championship game Nov. 6 in Alexandria, La. The title game came one day after UAPB’s homecoming.
Before the tournament, UAPB set a precedent by sweeping the SWAC’s top soccer awards as Sylvia Fuentes and Erika Forbes repeated as offensive and defensive players of the year and goalkeeper Meaghan Storie was named freshman of the year.
4. Bulldogs, Zebras, Cards reach football semis
White Hall, Pine Bluff and Dollarway all had to overcome some adversity in reaching their respective state football semifinals. White Hall started 0-3 before going on a nine-game winning streak, including a 7-0 conference run, before bowing out at eventual 5A runner-up Batesville. Pine Bluff lost its first three home games during a 3-3 stretch, but went from third place in the 6A-South to its semifinal, falling at Lake Hamilton 23-21.
Dollarway’s adversity was more severe, as the Cards had to forfeit four games for using an ineligible player. But they rebounded with a dramatic, 36-29 win over Star City to make the playoffs, part of a six-game winning streak snapped by eventual champ Pulaski Academy in 4A.
5. Guy’s the man at White Hall
White Hall junior Cole Guy won 5A and overall state tennis titles with his brother Josh, in 2010. In 2011, with his brother now attending Arkansas Tech, it was up to Cole to build on a family championship tradition.
Guy won the state 5A tennis singles title over Hot Springs Lakeside’s Matt Talbert on Oct. 18. In the process, he helped White Hall finished second in team standings to Lakeside. His father Baylor coaches the Bulldogs.
Eight days later, Cole Guy played his way into the overall championship match in North Little Rock. He settled for second after losing to Pulaski Academy’s Jake Jacoby 6-3, 6-4.