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The Sun-Times - Heber Springs, AR
  • State Champs!

  • The Pirates brought home the ship. Concord became the first boys basketball team from Cleburne County to win a state championship since 1983, beating Wonderview 57-40 in the 1A state finals on Friday night in front of 3,359 fans at Summit Arena.
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  • The Pirates brought home the ship. Concord became the first boys basketball team from Cleburne County to win a state championship since 1983, beating Wonderview 57-40 in the 1A state finals on Friday night in front of 3,359 fans at Summit Arena.
    Senior MVP Jacob Roark, who scored 82 points in the Pirates’ three previous state tournament victories, was limited to 10 points. 
    Concord proved to be more than a one-man wrecking crew as forwards Ethan Hebert, Hanse Bowman and T.J. Richardson all joined Roark in double figures.
    The Pirates outscored the Daredevils in all four quarters – 18-15 in the first, 13-5 in the second, 10-9 in the third and 16-11 in the fourth.
    “It was obvious they were trying to take away Jacob and these other guys can flat play,” said Concord coach Keith Cornett. “We’ve struggled a little bit lately in the postseason but I’ve got confidence in these guys shooting the basketball. Jacob absolutely carried us through the state tournament to get here and tonight the boys carried him.”
    Wonderview forward MJ Griffin kept close contact with Roark with occasional help from various teammates.
    “If you told me coming in we hold him to 10 points, I think we win the basketball game,” said Wonderview coach Jerod Squires.
    “That was our plan coming in to try to limit and pretty much contain him. I didn’t think we could hold him to 10 points but we wanted to contain him and make the other guys beat us with tough shots. Credit them. They did that. They are a great basketball team. I am proud for them but I wish it was us.”
    Concord, which was ranked No. 1 all season after finishing runner-up to Bay last year, appeared to be a team with one mission – winning the state championship. It’s been a long process, but the Pirates were finally able to crack a smile on Friday night, earning their 40th victory on the biggest stage of all.
    “We feel like we have been the best team for the past three years,” said Cornett. “I just felt like we were playing tonight with the whole community on our shoulders. These four seniors [Roark, Bowman, Hebert, Luke Cornett] got taken out when they were sophomores in the first round and I felt like we had the best team and then last year Bay in the finals. It just feels like we worked so hard to get here and get the job done.”
    Concord connected on 16 of 39 shots (41 percent) from the field, including 6 of 20 from three-point range. The Pirates made 19 of 26 attempts from the charity stripe ¬ 16 of 20 in the second half.
    Page 2 of 3 - Wonderview made 14 of 48 shots (29.2 percent), 5 of 19 from beyond the arc and 7 of 13 at the foul line. Concord out-rebounded the Daredevils 39-26.
    “We rebounded and controlled the boards tonight which normally we don’t,” said Cornett. “We always get beat up on the boards and I told the kids before the game if we win the rebound total we will win the basketball game.”
    The lead changed hands 11 times in the first quarter. Bowman came out of the gate on fire for Concord, drilling three shots from beyond the arc. Wonderview point guard Corey Collins drilled a pair of three-pointers in the opening period, helping the Daredevils stay within striking distance.
    Wonderview took its final lead at 15-13 on an 18-foot jumper by forward Ben Ingram before Concord closed the first quarter with a 5-0 spurt ignited by Hebert, who spun around two defenders and scored from left block.
    Bowman followed with a three-pointer from right wing, giving the Pirates an 18-15 lead after one quarter of play.
    Wonderview guard John Beck opened the second quarter with a three-pointer from right corner but forward T.J. Richardson, who scored all of his 11 points in the second quarter, sparked Concord with a putback.
    After Collins swiped a steal that led to a fast-break layup by forward Hunter Gunderman, Concord closed the first half with an 11-0 run, starting when Richardson gunned down a three-pointer from right wing.
    Hebert turned an offensive rebound into a pair of free throws then Richardson grabbed an offensive rebound and scored inside. Richardson, a sophomore, added another stick back, this time pulling down a missed free throw and scoring on a difficult over the shoulder shot with two defenders draped on his back.
    With just over a minute remaining, Richardson struck again as he tracked down a loose ball and scored from right block, increasing the Pirates’ lead to 31-20 at half.
    Richardson also gave the Pirates a huge lift in their quarterfinal win over Emerson. “He is a terrific player,” said Cornett. He is one of the headiest players I’ve ever had. He had been struggling but hit a shot or two against Emerson and he has played tremendous.”
    Roark, who has made more three-pointers (398) than any other player in Arkansas history and is second on the state’s all-time scoring list (3,619 points), finished 1 of 11 from the field and 8 of 9 at the foul line.
    “No frustration at all,” said Roark. “We came out and this kid right here [Bowman] was filling it up. I was perfectly content with throwing him the ball.”
    Bowman drained his fourth and fifth three-pointers in the third quarter and Roark was fouled in the closing second of the period. Roark made all three from the charity stripe, extending Concord’s lead to 41-29 entering the final eight minutes of play.
    Page 3 of 3 - Ingram banked home a three-pointer to pull Wonderview within nine early in the fourth quarter, but the Pirates would bounce back behind Hebert, who scored twice inside – turning the second basket into a three-point play that started with an assist from Roark.
    Wonderview pulled within 11 at 47-36 with five minutes left on a layup by Griffin off an assist from Gunderman, but the Pirates played stout defense for the remainder of the game, only allowing one more field goal.
    The Pirates, who wrapped up the season at 40-2 with their lone losses coming against foes from larger classifications, wore Christian warm-up tops throughout postseason play.
    “I’ve just got one thing to say,” said Bowman. “Throughout the season the more we went on the more we started trusting Jesus and we started to pray before every game. We deserved to be here but it’s only by the grace of God that we got here and the grace of God we won. I just want to say Jesus wins.”
    Griffin, who hit 5 of 14 shots, led Wonderview (30-9) with 13 points and nine rebounds. Beck added eight points for the Daredevils, while Collins and guard Milwin Rainey each had six.
    Hebert, who finished 4 of 7 from the field and 10 of 13 at the free throw line, paced Concord with a game-high 18 points. Hebert also grabbed a team-high 11 rebounds.
    Bowman followed with 15 points, sinking 5 of 8 three-point attempts and 5 of 11 total shots. Richardson added 11 points on 5 of 8 shooting, while also pulling down 10 rebounds. Roark chipped in 10 points and six rebounds and Cornett contributed two points, hitting 1 of 2 shots from the field.West Side’s 1983 team was the last team from Cleburne County to win a state title until Friday night, when the Pirates broke the drought by capping a dominating season.
    Concord won four state tournament games by a total margin of 209-147.

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