Fresh off a Slammin’ Buckets championship in Conway, the Brick Layers returned to the City of Colleges to face some higher competition this past weekend in the HoopPlay USA National Tournament held at the Don Owens Center.
 
Playing in the 11th and 12th grade division with two new players and without one, the team split action on Friday with a 49-33 loss to the RV Heat, followed by a 61-54 triumph over the Matrix. Saturday saw the final game in pool play before tournament seeding, a 39-33 loss to the Arkansas Lady Beasts.
 
The tides would turn for the Brick Layers, however, defeating ROC in the first round of the Varsity Select bracket before pulling out the broom on the Matrix, winning in a semifinal showdown Sunday afternoon, setting up a championship matchup with the Ozarks Elite, as the team fell just short of the title.
 
The group finished strong as four of the six players will enter their sophomore seasons this upcoming school year. Stone County residents senior Macey Decker of Mountain View and junior Maddison Kocher of Fox helped round out the squad of six players, as freshman Hailey Gentry was unable to play some games due to playing with another team.
 
“We ended up playing in the higher division because I signed us up for the tournament late,” said head coach Jacob Roark. “We were without Hailey and that hurt us, but both Maddison and Macey stepped up and helped us greatly. If we would’ve had Hailey in the mix, I honestly think we would’ve had a great shot at the overall title. It was a good learning experience for us, and I believe everyone got something out of it. It was an overall