Posted Date: 01/09/2019
Eight schools carry 16 teams ascended the trails leading to Mansfield High School for three days of basketball action starting on Thursday, December 27 and running through to an exciting finals on Saturday, December 29. Through the 20 game slate, it was the Bearcats of Booneville, the Bulldogs of Waldron, and Tigers of Mansfield that gave local fans plenty of cheers.
As host to the Bill Frye Classic, sponsored by Today’s Bank of Mansfield, it was Mansfield that highlighted the early going with prime time games on the first two nights along with a third place tilt on the day’s final bill.
Mansfield, with both its men’s and women’s teams, found early success with opening night victories. The Lady Tigers struck first with a third degree swat of the Lady Yellow Jackets from Mulberry in the girl’s nightcap game. Their Tiger classmates from the men’s bracket made a similar slap to the Mulberry swarm in the men’s nightcap game that followed.
Mansfield’s 50-28 senior girl victory over Mulberry was spearheaded by sophomore point guard Makayla Strutton. The team’s leading scorer through its first 13 games, Strutton’s stat line showed an energetic 23 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 steals.
Although the team dropped its next two tournament games, 41-55 against Waldron and 22-44 verses Vian, Strutton still managed a spot on the Bill Frye Classic All-Tournament roster.
The Mansfield men paid a price in their win over Mulberry as junior standout Ethan Stovall tweaked his ailing back in the early going causing his him to sit idle the rest of the week. Playing steady without its main cog that first night but not the next two, the Tigers struggled offensively the rest of the way.
The Mansfield senior boys followed a similar path the Lady Tigers trekked by dropping their next two games. A 50-71 semi-final loss to Waldron along with a 32-54 set back to Vian in the third place contest soured what started off as a promising journey through the Frye Classic.
Starters Layton Howard and Codi Chick along with reserves Jaicy Griffin and JoJo Bailey had palatable moments throughout the tournament but nothing strong enough to fend off the Waldron nor Vian.
Ultimately, the real story coming out of the Frye Classic was the continued hot streak of the Booneville basketball boys and the sudden surge of the Waldron Lady Bulldogs.
The Booneville Bearcats hoisted the championship trophy from the men’s bracket with a 61-48 finals win over the Waldron Bulldogs. The hard fought title clincher was the Cats’ 14th consecutive victory of the year running their season record to 15-1.
Bearcat forward Blakley Cobb was terrific in the finals securing 23 points and six rebounds. Noah Reyes, fresh off Booneville’s state championship football team, scored 10 points all in the third period. Grant Goers tallied 12 points as all three players were named to the All-Tournament team.
In a losing effort, Waldron’s Payton Brown (12 points) and Drew Dozier (12 points) also made the All-Tournament roster.
On the other hand, the Waldron Lady Bulldogs found themselves in unfamiliar territory as they made the finals for the first time in several seasons. A 41-31 hold on the Hackett Lady Hornets in the first round along with an inspired 55-41 decision over the Lady Tigers of Mansfield in the semi-finals put the Lady ‘Dogs squarely in the finals.
Waldron’s senior girls seemed ready to play against the Arkoma Lady Mustangs by taking the early edge at the first quarter buzzer. The Lady Bulldogs’ 8-4 lead was short lived as the Mustangs raised the whip in the second period racing out to a 19-12 mark by the half.
Waldron and Arkoma stayed separated by nearly the same margin going into the fourth quarter before the taller more athletic Mustangs finally closed the stable doors with a 38-26 victory.
Waldron’s Chenoa Burdess and Samantha Slater had solid numbers throughout the week giving them the call to join the All-Tournament ledger. Arkoma’s Libby Sharp and Maddie Key represented the Lady Mustangs on the All-Tournament team.