Pride overflows in Earle
By Chuck Livingston Sports Editor
It’s March in Earle, and that can only mean one thing: The Bulldogs are playing for a state basketball title. Except this season has a bit of a twist. In addition to the Earle boys team playing for the eighth championship in school history, the Earle Lady Bulldogs are playing in their first title game, and obviously for their first title. Earle is the only school in the state to have its boys and girls playing for a state title this season, and as one might imagine, the anticipation is at a fever pitch by the proud backers of Bulldog Nation. “The whole town is in the spirit,” says Surrekka Crowder, an Earle resident. “Bulldog pride is something that we all share. We have been to several boys championships, but this is a first for the Lady Bulldogs. We are extremely proud and excited about Thursday. Go Bulldogs!” Each Earle squad qualified for this year’s Class 2A state final game by winning three games at the Class 2A state tournament in Marmaduke last week. That tournament was marked by an abundance of Earle backers in attendance, and another Bulldog fan sees the same happening on Thursday afternoon. “The Lady Bulldogs and Bulldogs brought the city out in Marmaduke, and we’re going to paint Hot Springs red and white,” says LaSonya Rogers, mother of Earle junior guard Travis Rogers. While Rogers is a current member of a hopeful state title team, players from other great Earle squads are also keeping tabs on their alma mater’s trek through the tournament. “It’s a great time for my family, having great players on both teams,” says Tyrome Hurst, a member of the 2000 state title Earle boys team. “Roshala Scott and Alexandra Logan on the girls and Marcus and Marquise Brown on the boys team. I’m just excited for our city and our school. They have made history, so everyone should be very proud of these young men and women.” Tony Wilson, another Earle alum, echoes Hurst’s sentiments. “It’s a great sense of pride and community spirit, and brightness for our community, school, and even our local youth outreach organizations who helped train many of the players through their respective sports mentoring and recreational player development leagues,” explains Wilson. One of the people responsible for those youth outreach organizations, Chris Robinson, saw the potential for this season coming a few years ago. “We knew this group would be special since most of them played youth basketball in EYAA,” Robinson explains. “The most important thing about this moment is that it gives our children from the community the power to dream, achieve and believe in themselves, and what they can accomplish.” Emi Aikens is happy that her team is getting some recognition on the state-wide level. “We are so excited to see all the work our student-athletes have put into this season pay off,” explains Aikens. “We want the whole state to see just how special our kids are. These young men and women are made of pure heart and determination. I couldn’t be anymore proud of these young people and all they have achieved.” While the boys title game against East Poinsett County, and the girls game against Hector will be the place to be for any true Bulldog fan, Donnie Cheers pointed out a potential downfall for so many Earle residents potentially trekking to Hot Springs for the championship games. “Everyone will be at the game, from senior citizens to the police officers,” explains Donnie Cheers. “The town will be empty, and the ship will be full.” Each Earle team will play its title game on Thursday afternoon. The boys are up first when they play district rival East Poinsett County at 3:30 p.m., followed by the girls playing Hector at 5:15 p.m. The games will be played in Hot Springs at the Bank of the Ozarks Arena.