Conway and Fort Smith Northside, the two opponents for Thursday night’s 7A girls state championship game, know each other well.
They’ve alternated embarrassing each other this season.
The Lady Cats and the Lady Grizzlies will play for the title at 7 p.m. at Hot Springs’ Summit Arena.
Both teams have swept through the second half of the 7A Central Conference championship and the early rounds of the state tournament. The Lady Grizzlies, the 7A Central champions, have lost two games all season, one to Conway. The Lady Cats (27-5), who finished fourth in the conference, are one of the state’s hottest teams.
The Lady Cats turned their season around in February with a dominating, 79-60 victory at Buzz Bolding Arena, the first conference defeat for the Lady Grizzlies.
The Northside players certainly have haunting memories of that game. The Lady Cats built a 24-4 lead, led 26-10 at the half and were never seriously challenged. In that contest, Northside went 15:27 of the first half without a field goal.
The Lady Cats have equally bad memories of a January game in Fort Smith in which they commmitted 22 turnovers and were thoroughly dominated on the boards in a 57-43 loss.
The rubber game for the title will be on a neutral court.
The keys are obvious.
The Lady Cats must contain the Lady Grizzlies on the boards.
Northside must contain Conway’s pressure and transition game, led by guards Jordan Danberry and Alexis Tolefree.
Northside is the defending state champion. Conway won the state title in 2008.