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When the the very successful football program fought their way all the way to the state final in Little Rock, their excursion into December football left the Blackhawk basketball short of their full roster, with a game lost right before the team was unified. Fast forward to March, and the basketball squad matched the ultra-successful football team by battling their way all the way to the state final as well. As in the basketball early season, the 'Hawks lost an early baseball game before the team could all get their players unified after the end of the basketball playoffs.

The players are now altogether now, and they are hoping to go, as did the football and basketball teams, where no 4A baseball Blackhawks have ever gone. The ball team under coach John King did, however, make it to the final in 1989 where they were state baseball champions among the state's smallest schools. Since that time, the school has grown, climbing classifications while picking up a lot more students and much better practice facilities.

All these years later, and 500 victories later for Coach King, the Blackhawks are on the cusp of making the farthest run since King took over the team in the past century. I thought King's Blackhawks back in 2007 had the best team in the state, in spite of losing to eventual champion Horatio 8-7 in the state 3A semi-finals. That particular game was held in the middle of the night after several rain delays. The very heavy and cold air kept the Blackhawks' deep fly balls from becoming home runs, and along with some key errors, luck followed Horatio.

The 'Hawks had a terrific team in 2016, winning conference and district championships, but suffered an upset loss in the first round of regional to Clinton by one run. With Pea Ridge out of the way, Shiloh ran the table and emerged as the 4A state champion.

The MaxPreps/CBS polling computers think highly of the 'Hawks, ranking them in the No. 5 position in their first poll of the season. They are also ranked No. 1 in the 4A north region, a region with half of the top 10 teams in the rankings. By contrast, only two east region teams are in the top 10 with three of the south region foes among the first 10.

Baseball, the oldest organized team sport in the United States, is a bit different from the two major sports of football and basketball. A lot of teams can muster some good hitting but teams that make it to the championship game have to have good pitching staffs. Championship football and basketball teams have to have good defensive prowess and great baseball teams have to have good pitching. The 'Hawks do have that going this year.

This week, the 'Hawks are in the Prairie Grove Spring Break tournament with the first game taking place yesterday, Tuesday, March 21. The 'Hawks took on 7A team Bentonville West. That was a morning contest, and today they will play state contender Booneville at 5 p.m. Their final game of the tourney will be Thursday at 2 p.m. when they take on the Ozark Hillbillies.

Next Monday, Pea Ridge will be on the road again, this time taking on Elkins in a conference matchup. Their next home game will be March 30 when the Gravette Lions come calling. A week from tomorrow will see the 'Hawks on the road in the Lead Hill tournament.

The late basketball season will give the Diamond 'Hawks about seven weeks together before the district playoffs begin. The regional will be held at Dover this year with the state tournament being held in Lonoke. The state final game will be in Baum Stadium in Fayetteville in May.

The Blackhawks in 2017 have the pitching, defense, depth and hitting to go all the way to the state finals, just like the previous 'Hawk football and basketball players accomplished.

Here we go again?

I hope so. I doubt any school in the history of interscholastic sports has had a team make the finals of all three sports in the same year. That would be something.

Hogs have righted their ship

The Razorback baseball team ended their season last season with a long losing streak, dropping their last 11 conference games to not only miss the NCAA tournament, but even the SEC one. The final series they faced was against Mississippi State and they still had a chance to extend their season with a good showing. It wasn't to be as the Bulldogs swept the Hogs and ended their season early, the first such disappointment for coach Dave Van Horn since coming to Arkansas.

As luck would have it, Mississippi State was the Hogs first adversary this past weekend, coming to Fayetteville for three games. The Razorbacks, took the first game 3-1, won the second 5-4, and crushed them in the finale 6-1.

The Hogs are back. They weren't gone all that long but they are back in 2017.

State 4A MaxPreps

Baseball poll

including all 4A-1 teams

1. Ashdown 7-1

2. Central Arkansas 8-2

3. Brookland 7-1

4. Hamburg 7-1

5. Pea Ridge 7-1

6. Huntsville 6-2

7. Prairie Grove 5-2

8. Monticello 8-2

9. Shiloh 5-2

10. Dover 5-2

18. Berryville 5-3

26. Gravette 3-4

32. Lincoln 3-7

34. Gentry 1-6

4A North Region poll

1. Pea Ridge 7-1

2. Huntsville 6-2

3. Prairie Grove 5-2

4. Shiloh 5-2

5. Dover 5-2

6. Booneville 6-3

7. Dardanelle 7-2

8. Ozark 7-1

9. Berryville 5-3

10. Pottsville 6-3

3A-4A-1 Conference Standings

1. Pea Ridge 3-0

2. Greenland 3-1

3. Shiloh 2-0

4. Prairie Grove 2-1

5. Gravette 2-2

6. West Fork 1-2

7. Huntsville 0-2

8. Lincoln 0-2

9. Gentry 0-4

•••

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 author. He can be contacted through The Times at prtnews@nwadg.com.

Sports on 03/22/2017

Print Headline: Here we go again; let's make history

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