Chuck’s Corner by Chuck Livingston
The first two days of the 7A/6A-East district tournament at Lehr Arena have been awesome. Even an opening day that was mostly chalk got an infusion of intrigue with the presence of the Mountain Home teams taking the floor. The Bombers and Lady Bombers were responsible for the two best games of the day, and the girls actually pulled the biggest upset of the tournament so far by topping Jonesboro Annie Camp. The semifinals on Wednesday were led off with a pair of instant classics that saw Marion’s girls and Wonder’s boys standing and advancing to the title. Later that night, Wonder’s girls and Marion’s boys, arguably the two favorites in the tournament, took down convincing wins against foes that some thought may be up for the challenge of knocking them out. So now we’re left with a pair of intriguing district finals, both featuring Crittenden County’s best, and it will boast something for everyone. In the girls game, Wonder has been a juggernaut all year long. They’re 21-0 and have overwhelmed district opponents and the faithful Lady Golden Lion fans will be sure to pack the arena to see if they can make history and post an undefeated season record. However, the reason that Wonder isn’t driving for consecutive district titles is because of their opponent in the final. Marion eliminated Wonder from last season’s district semifinal in Patriot Arena in probably the biggest shocker of that tournament. The Lady Pats lost in the final to Mountain Home. Wonder is favored to win, and for good reason. But wild horses couldn’t drag me away from watching this battle for the crown. I’m excited for the girls game, but the boys game may be an all-timer, mainly because the two regular season meetings have already achieved that status. In the district opener for each team, Wonder’s home gym was packed to the gills to get eyes on the proceedings. Seriously, I gave my seat up to one of Marion’s managers in the second half. There was no seats left. The Golden Lions led at halftime, but Marion took off in the second half for a huge win. The atmosphere was outstanding. The rematch saw Wonder snap Marion’s 23-game winning streak, in Patriot Arena no less. Wonder’s fans seemed like they cheered for 10 minutes after the final horn, and why wouldn’t they? They had announced that they were gunning for the Pats and their district title and now here we are. That’s not even counting the double-overtime Marion win in the final of the 2014 Junior Patriot Classic on a Saturday morning. I’d say two extra sessions qualifies it for classic status. So I know where I’ll be tonight at 5 p.m. and 6:15 p.m. I don’t know who’s going to win, but I know that it’ll be captivating. It’s the only way that these teams know how to do business.