Pirates enter state tourney as No. 2 seed
Somehow, Drew Central has got to figure out how to solve its arch-rival.
Sure, the 26-4 Pirates have beaten the Owls once this season but of DC’s four losses, three have come at the hands of McGehee. The last one hurt the most, a 55-44 defeat in the championship game of the Class 3A, Region 4 Tournament at Fordyce Saturday night. Still, the Pirates enter this week’s 3A State Championships—on their home floor—as the No. 2 seed from 3A Region 4 and still have a chance to play for the ultimate prize, a trip to Hot Springs and a 3A state title.
Drew Central faces an early test, though, in Tuckerman at 2:30 p.m. Thursday in Drew Central Gymnasium. The Bulldogs, who enter the state tournament as the third seed from 3A Region 2, are a gaudy 34-5 this winter. Should the Pirates survive their opener, they will take on either Osceola or Elkins at 5:30 p.m. Friday.
The state semifinals are slated for Saturday at 1:30 and 7:30 p.m. (DC would play in the second semifinal if the Pirates get that far; see brackets below). As usual, the two semifinal winners will meet May 8-10 at the Bank of the Ozarks Arena in Hot Springs to decide this year’s 3A state champion.
“I thought we played well in Fordyce at times,” Drew Central boys’ head coach C.J. Watson said, “but we just came up short versus McGehee. They outscored us by 11 at the free-throw line and uncharacteristically hit four threes. I felt like that was the difference in the game.”
Against McGehee, a bad first quarter and an average fourth doomed DC. The Owls jumped to a 17-10 lead after eight minutes and finished the game on a 21-15 run. In the middle two period, Drew Central actually outscored McGehee by two points but the Pirates couldn’t hold the momentum.
Senior Gary Lucas and sophomore Travarus Shead were the only two Pirates in double figures against the Owls, each netting 11 points. McGehee was able to hold the usually high-scoring senior duo of Montiel Daniels and Wooda Bell to just five points between them (Daniels had just two).
Before the McGehee slipup, Drew Central played like the team on top of the MaxPreps.com 3A rankings for most of the season. The Pirates earned their way to the 3A Region 4 title game with a 67-47 first-round blowout win over Genoa Central and a close 57-55 victory over 7-3A winner Centerpoint in the semifinals. Against Genoa, DC led every quarter, outscoring the Dragons by three in the first period, by seven in the second, and by five in both the third and fourth quarters. Lucas led three Pirates in double figures as Drew Central easily qualified to come home for the state tournament, scoring 12 points. Both Shead and junior Nicky Barnard chipped in with 10 points apiece.
Establishing a five-point advantage against Centerpoint in the first quarter, DC hung on to advance to the regional championship behind Daniels’ team-high 22 points. Shead, the only Pirate to score in double figures in all three games in Fordyce, followed with 11.