Chucks Corner By Chuck Livingston
Happy New Year! I hope your Christmas and the rest of the holidays were awesome. I’m sure you’re already aware of this, but conference play in the 7A/6A-East tips off on Friday night with a couple of teams that you may be familiar with facing off. Marion and West Memphis will redeem their rivalry at Lehr Arena, and not only will first place in the league be on the line, but maybe even the top spot in my weekly Power Poll rankings. 1.) West Memphis Lady Blue Devils (10-3 overall, hosts Marion on Friday at approximately 6 p.m.) 2.) Marion Lady Patriots (7-6 overall, at West Memphis on Friday) West Memphis bolted out to a 10-1 start to the season before losing to a pair of quality Tennessee teams in their last two outings at the Collierville Dragon Fire Invitational. Marion was also 2-2 at that tournament, but the Lady Pats’ run was a little different. While the Lady Blue Devils dropped their games to teams that they won’t see anymore this season, Marion lost a thriller to Jonesboro, a 6A-East rival. The Lady Pats previously beat Mountain Home in early December. For some reason, the first Marion-West Memphis hoops game is always a lot more lively than the second game. That’s been the case the past two years, anyway. I’m really looking forward to the scene on Friday night. 3.) Earle Lady Bulldogs Earle could take the inside track for the 2A-3 league title with a win against Marmaduke last night. That makes sense because the Lady Bulldogs have improved every season under Corey Garrett, but a top seed at the district tournament could go a long way towards getting Earle back to the state tournament. Remember, the regular season seeds teams for the district tournament, and the top four teams from the district advance to the regional, where the top four go from there. If you’re Earle, and you win the regular season conference title, you get a bye into the second round of the district tournament, which leaves the Lady Bulldogs needing just one win to clinch a spot in the regional. Anything can happen in those tournaments, but with the nature of hoops in the spring, the fewer games Earle plays in, the less chance of a crazy upset. 4.) West Memphis Christian Lady Black Knights West Memphis Christian always seems to play its way back into shape as the season progresses, and this year is no different. The Lady Black Knights won their first game over the Christmas break and they’ve won at least one district tournament game the past two years. West Memphis Christian’s path to tournament hoops is the same as Earle’s, so the better they finish in the league, the better their matchups are in the knockout round.