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Lady Tigers win girls title over Fayetteville; Magnolia claims boys crown in media poll

By Scott McDonald
Batesville Daily Guard

After the Arkansas Activities Association finally canceled the remaining state championship games that did not get played last month at the start of the COVID-19 virus pandemic, members of the Arkansas Sports Media voted on the final High School Basketball Polls of the year this week.

Since eight state championship games from the top four classes were not played, the AAA awarded both teams that advanced to each of those title games a co-State Championship. But the ASM voters had to make a choice of those teams to vote No. 1 in each of those classifications, making each of those teams the “mythical state champion.”

The lower two classifications were able to hold their state championship games and by rule, those teams are automatically a unanimous choice for No.1 in their respective classification in the ASM poll.

As for the top overall teams in the state, Magnolia barely edged out West Memphis for the boys’ top spot while the Bentonville Lady Tigers garnered all but one first-place vote to claim the girls’ No. 1 spot.

Girls’ rankings

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Bentonville had just one loss all year and it was very early in the season to Fort Smith Northside which spent all season at No. 1 while Bentonville was No. 2.

However, the Lady Bears were upset in the Class 6A state semifinals by Fayetteville, which ended up being the No. 2 team as the Lady Bulldogs were co-state champs with Bentonville.

Northside finished up third. Greenwood and Nettleton were co-champs of Class 5A but Greenwood finished fourth overall and Nettleton was fifth.

Farmington, which tied for the 4A title with Star City, finished sixth while Class 6A’s Conway was seventh.

Star City, the only undefeated girls team in the state, finished eighth and Batesville finished ninth. Melbourne, winner of the Class 2A title for the second straight year, finished at No. 10.

In the Class 6A Top 5, it was Bentonville, Fayetteville, Northside, Conway and Cabot.
In the Class 5A Top 5, Greenwood got nine of the 15 first-place votes to edge Nettleton which got the other six.

Mountain Home finished in a tie with Little Rock Christian, the other semifinal team, for third. Vilonia, which was ranked No. 1 going into the state tournament before being upset by Mountain Home, finished fifth.

In the Class 4A Top 5, Farmington got 10 first-place votes to finish first over undefeated Star City. Batesville, the defending state champion coming into the season, lost to Farmington in the semifinals and finish up at No. 3.

Southside Batesville and Pulaski Academy finished tied for fourth while Harrison was just a single point behind.

Ironically, it was Valley Springs and Mountain View that finished as co-champs of Class 3A.

Both members of the same 3A-1 East Conference for a dozen years have dominated Class 3A girls basketball since 2009 as they have combined for 11 state finals appearances and four state championships.

Splitting their games 2-2 this season, Mountain View was the defending state champion coming in but Valley Springs had the hot hand coming into the title game as the Lady Tigers had beaten the Lady Yellowjackets the last two times they had met.

Because of this, Valley Springs ends up at No.1 with nine first-place votes to six for Mountain View.

The Top 5 is rounded out by Charleston, Hoxie and Mayflower.

Melbourne finished as the top team in Class 2A for the second year in a row and was ranked No. 1 the entire season.

Quitman finished second where it had mostly been ranked all year. Marmaduke is third, Bigelow finished fourth and Earle came in at No. 5.

And in the Class 1A Top 5, Kirby finished first while Viola, the only team in the state with 40 wins, finished second.

West Side Greers Ferry came on late in the year to make a push to the semifinals and finished third. Alpena, the other semifinalist, finished fourth and Norfork was fifth.

There were 16 girls’ teams in the state to win at least 30 games this year and four of them did not make the year-end rankings, including Emerson (32-4), Lamar (30-4), Acorn (31-5) and Mount Vernon-Enola (30-8).

Boys’ rankings

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The Magnolia Panthers were the only boys team in the state to finish undefeated and were set to play for the second straight title but ended up sharing the 4A championship with Little Rock Mills.

Magnolia finishes the season as the No.1 team overall, clipping No. 2 West Memphis by a single point. Each received seven first-place votes. Jacksonville, co-champs of 5A with West Memphis finished third and 6A co-champs Conway and Little Rock Central were fourth and fifth, respectively.

Mills finished sixth followed by last year’s 6A champ Fort Smith Northside at No. 7, the Fayetteville, North Little Rock and Hot Springs.

Conway got 12 first-place votes to take No. 1 in Class 6A with co-champ LR Central getting three for No. 2. They were followed by Northside, Fayetteville and North Little Rock.

West Memphis nearly got all the votes for No. 1 in Class 5A with 13 while co-champ Jacksonville got two to finish second. They were followed by Maumelle, Hot Springs and Marion.

Magnolia got all 15 first-place votes to stay at No. 1 in Class 4A where the Panthers were all season. Mills also remained second. Blytheville finished third with Brookland fourth and eStem coming in at No. 5.

Two teams that weren’t even ranked prior to the state tournament finished up first and second in Class 3A.

Rivercrest and Osceola ended up being co-champs but Rivercrest got nine votes to finish first and Osceola got the other six. Dumas finished third, Valley Springs was fourth and Mayflower finished fifth.

England won its second-straight Class 2A title to finish at No. 1. Earle, the runner-up, is second followed by Marianna, Lavaca and Bay.

The Nevada Blue Jays pulled the upset in the 1A title game, slipping past defending champ Izard County, 48-47. Kriby, which gave Izard County a tough game in the semifinals, finished third and was followed by Bradley and Concord.

There were 11 boys teams that finished the season with at least 30 victories but four of them were not ranked, including Bergman (32-9), The New School (36-2), Hillcrest (31-6) and Caddo Hills (32-11).