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It was a good to great weekend for Blackhawk athletics this weekend.

The Blackhawk boys basketball team clawed their way into the 4A State Tournament which begins Wednesday, Feb. 28, in Brookland, east of Jonesboro.

The 'Hawks shot down a tough Subiaco squad 54-38 in the first round of the 4A North Regional. Subiaco had taken the state's top-ranked team Pottsville down to the wire in Pottsville before losing by 2 in their district final just prior to the game with the 'Hawks.

The 'Hawks then had a reversal of fortunes in the Berryville game in the semi-finals. The 'Hawks were hitting from behind the arc but did not score single bucket inside the arc until less than four minutes were left in the half.

Though the Bobcats held leads of varying length throughout the contest, the 'Hawks made a run at the end and actually had a 1-point lead (55-54) with less than a minute left. A dropped defensive rebound was put back in by the Bobcats to flip the lead, and when the 'Hawks turned the ball over moments later, Berryville had the game sewn up, eventually winning 58-55.

The 'Hawks took the third place playoff game, beating Booneville 42-40 in a low scoring affair.

The Blackhawks now play Dumas of the 4A-8, the third place finisher in the South Region. They beat Nashville 49-46 in the region first round, then were blown out 70-36 by Warren in the semi-finals. They topped Ashdown 49-37 to get the third seed. They are currently ranked 14th in the state, behind the Blackhawks 11th ranking position. Dumas are Bobcats with a 19-11 record. Pea Ridge is 27-6.

If the 'Hawks can handle the Bobcats, they will take on Batesville Southside, the state's current No. 2-ranked team. The Southerners have a sparkling 28-5 record, and edged the defending state champion Baptist Prep team 46-45 in the region final. Prep had beaten Southside 56-49 in their district finals.

Pea Ridge is among 12 teams that are still alive for a state championship, and should they win Wednesday, they will be among the Elite Eight, the state quarter-finals. The game will be played Saturday, March 1, with the semi-final game to be played Monday, March 3. The three teams in the bracket with Pea Ridge, Dumas and Southside include No. 3-ranked Westside, No. 8 Bauxite, and No. 28 Booneville. The state final will be the following weekend in Hot Springs.

And the great

The Blackhawk track and field teams had a super weekend at the University of Arkansas where the girls claimed a state title with the boys narrowly getting edge out of second.

Thought the 'Hawks had a very successful track program back in the last part of the 1900s, the program was not very good until the girls program, headed by current girls coach Heather Wade, began making noise with a run of district championships and invitational titles. Though the girls claimed a state runner up in cross country several years ago, they haven't been a team threat in state competition until now.

With their very powerful performance at the state indoors, they not grabbed some glory, they have set on a path for improvement in the future.

The girls team, and the boys team, too, for that matter, are very youth oriented with underclassmen doing nearly all the scoring. Coach Wade feels that there is talent coming up in the younger grades which bodes well for Blackhawk athletics.

On the boys' side, since the turn of the millennium, the varsity Blackhawks have rested near the bottom of the district in scoring until the recent past which has seen junior high teams increasingly successful.

With the arrival of new head boys coach Asa Poteete, things will only get better. Coach Poteete headed up the best track and field program in the state of Oklahoma for the best several years. In a state that places far more importance on track as a sport, that is saying something.

A really involved track program is not only good for the athletes who participate in it trackwise, it also carries benefits for athletes who also participate in football or basketball.

My old high school football coach was a firm believer in the importance of strength and speed for his athletes. When I would come back from college and talk to Coach Fowler about what I would need to know when I started coaching, he told me that it was his experience that really good football teams usually worked in tandem with the track program.

He turned out 200-, 400- and 800-meter runners by the score and within three years, he turned a last place football team into a state champion.

Team sports, when you boil it all down, is about speed. Speed and quickness. Any activity that improves upon those qualities, improves your team no matter the sport.

The nice thing about track and field is that there is something for everyone. Not everybody is going to be a championship runner, but maybe they can jump far, or high or with coordination as in the triple jump. Maybe they have the raw strength needed for throwing the shot, or maybe they have the size, speed and dexterity to throw the discus. And maybe, just maybe, you might have a kid who maybe loves roller coasters, has good balance and arm strength, and just might like pole vaulting.

In the Poteete/Wade era, the kids that I have talked to tell me that track is fun. Now when you an reach a situation where kids work hard and develop some grit, and they have fun doing it, then you have a good situation.

Trackhawks to restart

The elementary track and field program will restart in early March as soon as weather permits.

The Trackhawks were involved in a running program last fall with a number of runs conducted for kindergarten through sixth-grade.

This spring will have training and competition for competitors in the 100-, 200-, 400-, 800- and 1,600-meter events as well as the shot, discus, long jump and triple jump. There is no cost to participate.

Further information will be forthcoming.

•••

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

Sports on 02/28/2018

Print Headline: Good to great Blackhawks shine

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