Monday’s first round of the Heartland Christian Athletic Association 2A State Basketball Tournament will be a travel day for West Side Christian. The Lady Warriors play Owasso Prep (Okla.) at 3 p.m. in Little Rock. The Warriors will face Trinity Christian at 8:30 p.m. in Hot Springs.
The winners of the nine-team tournament will advance to the semifinals on Thursday in Shawnee, Okla.
The Lady Warriors take a 20-6 record into the tournament and a No. 1 seed after winning their regional 48-44 over Arkansas Christian Academy on Saturday.
West Side overcame extreme foul difficulty and had players step up to win on its opponent’s home floor.
“I told the girls, it exposed some things about us that are weaknesses. But it also brought out some things that are strengths that maybe our players didn’t even know we had. A couple of those older girls took it upon themselves to make sure we didn’t lose. I do feel those girls aren’t going to be in a situation that’s a lot tougher than that,” said West Side coach Randall Miller.
He said third-seeded Owasso Prep will be a bit of an unexpected opponent.
“I feel good about that match-up. I’ve got to dig a little bit deeper into some film so I can make sure we’re where we need to be,” said Miller. “Them getting in on that side was not who we expected to get in. The team we expected to get in, they knocked them off. I think they scored 69 in that match-up (Saturday) so anybody that can put 69 up there in a basketball game, we’ve got to make sure we’re sound on defense.”
West Side (20-7) will take a No. 2 seed into the boys’ tournament and will face a No. 2 seed in Trinity Christian.
“Trinity’s got a lot of shooters. They can shoot it from deep,” said Miller. “They like to press a good bit and push the ball. They try to force a ton of turnovers. There will be some places where we can get some really good looks against that. And then we’ll just have to make ‘em.
“Defensively, we’ll have to be really attached to shooters.”
Miller coaches both squads so he will drive to Hot Springs after the girls’ game in Little Rock.
“I’ll be fine there. It changes your approach. We can’t really travel together. It changes your routine a little bit,” he said. “But as far as I’m concerned, driving to get to a match-up somewhere else is no big deal. Hey, that’s just another challenge.”
The Lady Warriors could be one of the favorites in the tournament along with Oklahoma schools Lakewood and Claremore. The Warriors will have their hands full right out of the gate with Trinity Christian. Miller said the teams are evenly matched.
“It’ll be a big challenge for us to get on to Thursday. But, shoot, we like challenges,” he said.
“I like all of basketball season. This time of the year is a lot of fun. You really get to see the kids in pressure situations. You get to see growth there and you get to challenge them in areas you want to see more growth. The kids here are always fun to do that with. They take it seriously and they put a lot into it and they care a lot about it. That’s why I enjoy it so much.”