The Sun-Times - Heber Springs, AR
  • No. 1 Concord wins third consecutive regional title

  • In a rematch of last week's 1A-2 South District Tournament finals, Concord beat South Side Bee Branch again, this time 64-54 on Saturday in the 1A, Region 3 Tournament championship game.
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  • In a rematch of last week’s 1A-2 South District Tournament finals, Concord beat South Side Bee Branch again, this time 64-54 on Saturday in the 1A, Region 3 Tournament championship game.
    The No. 1 ranked Pirates didn’t appear satisfied after winning their third consecutive regional championship, standing stoically during the trophy presentation. Concord’s senior laden team has captured regional crowns at Mulberry (2011-12), West Side Greers Ferry (2012-13) and now Mount Vernon-Enola (2013-14).
    “We’ve got four starters back from a team that went to the state finals last year and our goal is to win the state championship,” said Concord coach Keith Cornett. “We are ready to load up and go to Harrison.”
    Point guard Jacob Roark led the Pirates to the regional title with a game-high 25 points, hitting 7 of 8 free throws in the fourth quarter to help fend off the pesky Hornets, who trailed 15-7 after the first quarter.
    The Pirates made 18 of 40 shots from the field, 6 of 20 from three-point range and 22 of 30 free throws, including 16 of 20 in the fourth quarter. South Side connected on 17 of 45 shots from the field, 6 of 23 from beyond the arc and 13 of 18 at the charity stripe.
    “I thought we shot the ball better tonight than we have been here lately,” said Cornett. “We got in foul trouble once again and some of the guys that came in did a good job of keeping us in the game early. We actually had a seven-point lead at halftime. If we can just keep No. 21 [Ethan Hebert] out of foul trouble it is going to be easier for us.”
    Concord jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead as Hebert scored from left block, forward Hanse Bowman drove to the basket for a layup and Roark turned a steal into a bucket.
    Leading 6-3, Roark drilled three 3’s in the final two and a half minutes of the first quarter. The electrifying senior guard buried one step-back shot and two more launched from NBA range.
    South Side forward Riley Roberson converted an old-fashioned three-point play early in the second quarter before the Pirates countered with an 8-0 run sparked by reserve guard Colton Billington, who nailed a three-pointer up top.
    Forward T.J. Richardson followed with a three-pointer from left wing then Roark sank a pull up jumper from left elbow, extending Concord’s lead to 23-10.
    Bowman added two buckets in transition, including a three-pointer from right wing as Roark picked up two assists and the Pirates’ lead grew to 28-12, but South Side closed the first half with a 9-0 surge that included two three-pointers by Roberson and one from Collums.
    The Hornets pulled within five early in the third quarter when point guard Mason Duncan, the tallest player on the floor, recorded a putback.
    Page 2 of 2 - Concord retaliated as guard Luke Cornett picked a steal and hit Roark for a layup then Cornett dropped a double-clutch shot in transition, causing the South Side to call for timeout with 5:19 remaining in the third quarter.
    Following the break in action, the Hornets used an 8-2 spurt to pull within four as Collums drained a three-pointer, Duncan hit a fall away shot in the lane and Roberson scored from right block off an assist from Duncan.
    Roberson’s free throw with 2:27 left in the third quarter cut Concord’s lead to four, but the Pirates ferociously attacked the basket for the remainder of the period, drawing contact on four occasions.
    Concord took advantage from the charity stripe sinking 5 of 7 free throws, including three from Roark and two from Hebert, while stretching its lead to 40-31 entering the final eight minutes of play.
    South Side guard Austin Lewis picked a steal and scored, then Duncan got a stick back as the Hornets suddenly pulled within five early in the fourth quarter before Bowman scored from left block off an assist from Roark.
    Roberson countered with a three-pointer from left wing, trimming Concord’s lead to four at 42-38, but the Pirates would respond by playing stifling defense during the final six and a half minutes.
    Concord sealed the game by making 16 of 20 free throws ¬ seven from Roark and four each from Richardson and Hebert.
    Roberson and Collums each scored 21 points to lead South Side (28-6), which has lost all four meetings versus Concord. Duncan chipped in seven for the Hornets.
    Following Roark’s game-high 25 points, Hebert had 15, Bowman added 11 and Richardson had seven.
    Roark also led the Pirates with 28 points in their 60-42 win over KIPP Delta in the semifinals of the regional tournament on Friday. Hebert followed with 13 and Richardson added 10 for Concord.
    Concord opens 1A State Tournament play on Friday versus host Jasper, which is the fourth seed out of Region 1. Opening tip is set for 2:30 p.m. at North Arkansas College in Harrison.
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