Earle wins 20th game, move to semis of regional
By Chuck Livingston Sports Editor
It’s been a long time coming, but the Earle Lady Bulldogs are back in the state basketball tournament. Last night in the opening round of the 2A-North regional at Sloan-Hendrix High School, Earle dropped Walnut Ridge 67-42 to move to the semifinal round of the tournament, while also assuring themselves of a spot in the Class 2A state tournament, which will be next week at Marmaduke High School. What’s not been decided right now is Earle’s seed. The Lady Bulldogs can enter as anywhere from a No. 1 seed or a No. 4 seed. The win is Earle’s first state tournament appearance in at least 15 years. The Lady Bulldogs (20-8 overall) led by 35 at one point in the fourth quarter. “Good team effort,” said Earle head coach Corey Garrett. “We have to play better defense because we’re having too many breakdowns.” Earle got 21 points, eight rebounds and a pair of blocked shots from senior post girl Takila Baker, 18 points, seven rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks from freshman Roshala Scott and nine points, seven assists from Aundrea Allen. Veronique Sanders also connected on a couple of key three-pointers to jump-start the Earle attack. It’s Garrett’s third year as the head coach at Earle, and while his teams have advanced further every season, this run has been special to the Marion native. “I’m happy for the girls because the hard work is paying off, and we are building a successful program from the seventh grade on up,” says Garrett. Earle didn’t make it out of their district in either of the past two seasons, but won the district title last week and have won six straight games, dating back to a loss at home to Marmaduke earlier this month. Earle beat Marmaduke in the district semifinal last week in Marked Tree. “This is the best that we’ve played in the three years that I’ve been here,” Garrett said. “This team has the quick guards that I like and bigs that can run the floor. We even have aggressive bigs that can run the floor.” The Lady Bulldogs will face the winner of the Marmaduke/Tuckerman game for the right to play for the regional title. The semifinal will be played on Friday at 7 p.m. at Sloan-Hendrix High School. If Earle loses on Friday, they will play in a consolation game to see if they will be a No. 3 or No. 4 seed on Saturday. If Earle wins, they will play in the regional title, and a No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the state tournament on Saturday at 6 p.m.