The Quitman Bulldogs and West Side Eagles each collected victories on the final day of the Fast Break Classic held at Quitman Saturday evening, as the Bulldogs held off White Hall 51-48 and the Eagles outlasted Quest Academy 51-41, giving each team a perfect record on the week.
Junior guard Zac Shue led Quitman (9-2) with a game-high 18 points in the win over White Hall, also getting 10 points from senior Trey Lovelady. West Side (8-5) was led by 26 points from freshman Travis Gentry. The Bulldogs won their first two matchups of the Classic, taking down Dewitt 63-43 and Midland 80-45. The Eagles came out victorious over the Little Rock Flames 55-53 earlier in the week.
In other games involving area teams, the West Side Lady Eagles improved to 12-1 after defeating the Lady Ramblers (4-4) of Rose Bud 73-54 behind 25 points from junior forward Alex Southerland. Adding to West Side’s double figure scoring was senior Kaitlin Towell with 16 and junior Madison Bailey and senior Kaylynn Finch each with 13. Freshman Kyndal Rooks led the way for Rose Bud with 26 points. Both teams also played in previous days, with the Lady Eagles winning handily over the Little Rock Lady Flames 71-21 and the Lady Ramblers knocking off Dewitt 52-24.
The Lady Bulldogs (6-5) of Quitman took on the Nettleton Lady Raiders falling by a score of 70-59. Senior Nicki Hooten had 18 for the home team, also adding on 12 from junior Autumn Johnson. Junior Elauna Eaton led the winners with 20, with Mya Love clipping on 11. The Lady Bulldogs split in their first two matchups in the Classic, defeating Monticello 74-54 before falling to defending Class 1A state champion Wonderview 56-47.
Rose Bud’s senior boys also took the floor throughout the week, edging out Quest Academy 49-46 while losing to Dewitt 51-50.
On Sunday, Quitman boys coach Brandon Burgener took some time to talk about his team as well as reflect back on the shot clock event held at Bulldog Complex.
“The boys are resilient and have learned how to respond to adversity. They play together and are unselfish. We have a lot of weapons and use them each and every night. I’m just proud of how they trust me and one another and care about the name on their chest more than the number. They’re in great shape and they put that on display this week.”
Burgener, who is in his third season at the reins of the boys program, is a big supporter of the shot clock being used in Arkansas high school basketball, a method of play that has been used somewhat in the larger classifications, but not often in the smaller ones.
“We hope to see a shot clock in high school basketball in the next few years. It makes the game so much more exciting and puts the game in the players’ hands more often. All we wanted to do this week was expose the excitement that it poses. I believe we had somewhere around eight or nine shot clock violations all week. It would not change the game as much as some coaches and players believe it would. It requires creativity and basketball IQ to be a factor in a lot of scenarios. We just hope that our classic has helped make an impression on those who will one day make the decision to go with a shot clock.”
The future of the event looks promising, as many schools will look to return in 2019, with a mix of new ones being added to the equation.
“I have already called many schools for next year,” added Burgener. “To mention a few: Conway, Vilonia, North Little Rock, Greenbrier, Nettleton and Morrilton. Also, we have already received a yes from West Side, Rose Bud, Guy-Perkins and other area schools. We will play around with a few different formats for next year but plan to have an actual bracket tournament and crown a champion at the end. If enough teams enter then we will have two divisions, an upper and lower. We hope that this year’s classic generated a little excitement and interest from surrounding schools and schools that were involved and hopefully we will have teams asking to be in it next year.”
Local official and Quitman alumni John Pat Hodges is credited for birthing the idea of the Fast Break Classic, bringing in officials all week that have been trained to call under the shot clock rules at the college level.
“We want to thank him first and foremost. This was his idea and his baby. He saw the Bulldog Complex as an excellent place to host an event such as this and we agreed and jumped right on board. We’d also like to thank Calico Trailers and Susan Johnson of Quitman, Arkansas for sponsoring our event. Without Calico and Susan, our athletes and athletic programs, school and community would go without sometimes. Never once has Susan hesitated to help us out with anything we need. We appreciate her support more than she knows. Also, we would like to thank the administration, coaches, players and fans from all schools who participated. Lastly, we would like to thank Lake Area Sports for covering this event on livestream for those who were unable to attend games. We had many people reach out to us, including family of our own athletes, saying how grateful they were for the livestream and commentary of their athlete.”
LR Flames-51 Dewitt-35 (Girls)
Rose Bud-49 Quest Academy-46 (Boys)
Quitman-74 Monticello-54 (Girls)
Quitman-63 Dewitt-43 (Boys)
West Side-71 LR Flames-21 (Girls)
West Side-55 LR Flames-53 (Boys)
Wonderview-56 Quitman-47 (Girls)
Quitman-80 Midland-45 (Boys)
Nettleton-70 Monticello-30 (Girls)
White Hall-65 LR Flames-64 (Boys)
Rose Bud-52 Dewitt-24 (Girls)
Dewitt-51 Rose Bud-50 (Boys)
West Side-73 Rose Bud-49 (Girls)
West Side-51 Quest Academy-41 (Boys)
Nettleton-70 Quitman-59 (Girls)
Quitman-51 White Hall-48 (Boys)