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The Blackhawk boys and girls basketball teams have rolled to a collective 15-3 start to their 2018-2019 hardwood seasons, and have gained lofty ranking positions in the process.

Both teams attended the same tournament last week in Lavaca with each squad coming back with the first-place hardware in tow.

The boys crushed Magazine 50-16, blew past defending champion County Line 48-41, then whipped the host team Lavaca 57-52 in the finals.

The girls thumped Magazine 76-49 to start the tourney, got past Lamar 63-57 in semifinal action, then beat Providence Academy 47-43 in the finals.

The MaxPreps/CBS rankings are based on computer calculations, using past results, returning personnel, and difficulty of schedule to determine the early rankings. The Pea Ridge boys are ranked as high as third partly due to an assumption that a key returning player will be on the floor this season for the 'Hawks, an assumption that turned out to be inaccurate.

The girls team starts out in the eighth position in 4A, a sign of good things to come with so many younger players contributing along with a solid senior class. With all the 5A schools that were dropped into 4A this season, the rankings are even more impressive.

In the boys' rankings, the local 4A-1 District appears to be starting out as one of the toughest, if not the toughest league in the state. Four of the top-seven ranked teams in the boys' conferences were from the 4A-1, with only the 4A-3 (northeast Arkansas) having more than one team ranked that high.

Harrison is a 4A-1 league member with Pea Ridge and is the current top-ranked boys team in the state in 4A. Pea Ridge is third, Huntsville sixth and Berryville seventh.

Over on the girls' side, the 4A-1 is almost as impressive, having four of the top 11 teams listed. Berryville completes the 4A-1 sweep by claiming the top ranking in the classification. Farmington is third, Pea Ridge eighth and Prairie Grove 11th.

Basketball has a long season, and lots of things can and will happen between now and the state finals in March. Unheralded players will make their presence known, upstart teams will alter the landscape, and anything is possible.

One thing you won't see this year is any good teams in the 4A-2 District, as that district has been dissolved. It its place is the revived 4A-5 league which hasn't been designated for play in a long time.

The 4A-2 was generally north and north central teams, and the new 4A-5 is the Little Rock area and east. Five of the schools are in Little Rock.

It has always struck me as odd that the 4A districts have heretofore been numbered 1 through 4, then 7 through 8, with 5 and 6 left out. Why they didn't just number them 1 through 6 in the first place is something I can't grasp.

The plan in the past has been to have six eight-team conferences. The new plan has the 4A-1 and the 4A-5 having nine teams with the two south conferences (the 4A-7 and the 4A-8) having only seven teams. The 4A-3 and the 4A-4 remain at eight teams.

The dropping of so many 4A teams into 3A this year coupled with demographic changes across the state, led the Arkansas Activities Association to shift the teams that would have been in the 4A-2 into the 4A-3 or 4A-4. Heber Springs and Morrilton are the new members of the 4A-4 which will be a part of the Northwest Regional competition at the end of the season.

The AAA tried out a blended conference format in the 2016-2018 cycle and it proved to be a disaster. Not content to just put it back the way it was before the change, the AAA moved the small teams out of the blended conferences and then dropped former 5A teams into the 4A mix, resulting in a much, much tougher leagues for 4A basketball and other non-football sports. At least, this season will see the district tournament seeds awarded on head to head competition rather than a coaches poll.

The season ahead looks to be a promising one.

MaxPrep/CBS 4A

State basketball poll

Girls top 25 list

1. Berryville 6-0

2. DeQueen 5-0

3. Farmington 4-0

4. Highland 3-1

5. Brookland 3-1

6. Clarksville 6-1

7. Star City 7-1

8. Pea Ridge 8-2

9. Heber Springs 4-0

10. Batesville 4-0

11. Prairie Grove 3-1

12. Morrilton 5-1

13. Harrison 3-0

14. Crossett 3-0

15. Pocahontas 5-1

16. Stuttgart 4-0

17. Pottsville 3-3

18. Bauxite 7-1

19. Huntsville 2-3

20. Ozark 4-3

21. Gentry 3-2

22. Camden Fairview 3-2

23. ESTEM 5-4

24. Dardanelle 1-2

25. Mena 2-1

MaxPrep/CBS 4A

State basketball poll

Boys top 25 list

1. Harrison 3-0

2. Blytheville 3-1

3. Pea Ridge 7-1

4. Pottsville 4-1

5. Brookland 4-1

6. Huntsville 4-1

7. Berryville 3-0

8. Subiaco 5-0

9. ESTEM 7-3

10. Westside 3-1

11. Mena 3-1

12. Ozark 5-1

13. Monticello 3-1

14. Dardanelle 3-0

15. Robinson 2-1

16. Lonoke 3-1

17. Valley View 3-2

18. Highland 2-1

19. Bauxite 4-4

20. Mills 1-3

21. Forrest City 1-2

22. Crossett 2-1

23. Farmington 1-2

24. Batesville 2-2

25. Prairie Grove 2-3

•••

Editor's note: John McGee, an award-winning columnist, sports writer and art teacher at Pea Ridge elementary schools, writes a regular sports column for The Times. The opinions expressed are those of the writer. He can be contacted through The Times at prtnews@nwadg.com.

Sports on 12/05/2018

Print Headline: Blackhawk basketball teams highly ranked to start season

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