As the fourth seed in this week’s Region 4 Tournament in Prescott, Smackover coach Caleb Spradlin knows his team will have a steep hill to climb. The Buckaroos believe they will be ready for the challenge Wednesday when they take on top-seeded Glen Rose at 1 p.m.
The 14-4 Beavers beat Prescott 42-41 in the championship game of the 3A 7 District Tournament. Smackover (10-9) finished fifth in the 3A 8 during the regular season but grabbed the No. 4 seed after beating Rison 33-30. The Bucks lost to Dumas in the semifinals 52-42.
“We’re growing so much, thinking about the beginning of the year to where we are now. That’s to be expected with a young team, which we are. I’ll only lose one guy off this team,” Spradlin said. “I think we’re playing our best basketball of the year right now. We’re playing together. We’ve got our rotations down. Everybody knows their role. I’m excited about it. It’s always good to be playing this time of the year especially for us and where our program has been the last few years. To find a little success, find ourselves in a postseason with a young team, it’s real important to be here and get this experience now. It’s a good time, right now. We’re excited about the opportunity. We’re going to go give it our best shot.”
Spradlin said Glen Rose brings a unique challenge to the court with its style of play.
“They’re winning, right now. They’re pretty hot, playing their best ball of the season. We’ve got our hands full for sure,” he said. “They’re very structured, very disciplined offensively. It’ll be tough for us. We’re going to have to be, on the flip side of that, very disciplined defensively, stay to our assignments and not let them get anything easy.”
The coach said tempo will be the key to the game. Which team gets the pace it enjoys?
“They want to play slow, walk it up brand of basketball, limit possessions,” Spradlin said. “A lot of their scores are very low scoring, not many over 50 points. They want to win a grind it out, slow-paced kind of game. It’s going to be important for us to speed that game up a little bit, pick up the pressure and then push it in transition offensively and see if we can play at our tempo. We’ll be in for a long night if we try to play their style of ball. We’ve got to dictate the pace ourselves.”
The winner will qualify for the 3A State Tournament. That would be quite the accomplishment for the Bucks, under a first-year coach. It will be a steep hill but at least they can see the top.
“We get to play them on a neutral floor. We’re going to be confident about it. Anything can happen,” said Spradlin. “We really feel like we can go compete with these guys and give it a shot. I think we’ll be there at the end.”