While I guess I missed this particular bit of news, the boys and girls basketball conference play in the 4A-1 District has been split into East/West divisional play due to the extra team placed in the conference this cycle.
Last year, the 4A-1 was split and then combined with the 3A-1 to form blended conferences which met none of the sought after goals while creating new problems. That idea was scrapped, so the AAA decided to eliminate the 7A classification, pushing the 16 7A teams into the 6A class, in turn pushing those 16 teams into the 5A class, with the 5A losing 16 of their members downward, with the 4A pushing their 16 smaller members into the 3A class.
The shake out was that that two of the northern 4A districts (including the 4A-1) ended up with 9 teams with the two furthest south 4A conferences winding up with 7 league members. The two districts kind of in the middle retained their normal eight team alignment. The 4A-1 lost Lincoln to the 3A class this year with Harrison and Farmington moving in to take the Wolves place.
Pea Ridge wound up in the West Division of the 4A-1 along with Gentry, Gravette, Farmington and Prairie Grove. The East Division has Berryville, Huntsville, Harrison and Shiloh Christian. The teams play at home in their own division and just a single conference game against their out of division conference opponents.
The 'Hawks were slated to play Shiloh Tuesday night for perhaps their only matchup of the season. Shiloh's boys and girls teams are both ranked near the bottom of the state rankings which usually means a quick end to their season.
The divisional arrangement reduces the number of conference games and allows the teams a bit more flexibility in scheduling. This arrangement will be in force for this season and next, where it might likely be upended for for something new, the AAA's usual way of doing things.
The district playoffs begin in February, with the top four district finishers going on to regionals, with the top four there going on to the state tournament.
Heath Neal's Lady Blackhawk basketball girls have reached the No. 4 ranking in the MaxPreps/CBS 4A State poll this weekend.
The 'Hawks are the third team of the 4A-1 that is ranked in the top four overall in 4A. Farmington is the state's No. 1 ranked team with fellow district opponent Berryville right behind in the second place ranking.
The Lady 'Hawks will host the No. 2 Bobcats on Jan. 18 with the top ranked Cardinals coming to town on Jan. 29. There are eight conference games left after the Shiloh game of last night.
Interestingly, the Blackhawks are ranked No. 20 in the state regardless of classification. They are ranked ahead of Rogers, Heritage, Siloam Springs, Bentonville West, Springdale and Springdale Harber, all 6A and 5A teams.
Pea Ridge has made their climb to the top despite their being placed in a much tougher classification of the current season. Half of the 2018 5A teams were moved into the 4A for this season.
The boys have a 14-4 record, but could have easily been 18-0. They lost 1-point decisions to Eureka Springs (49-48) and Robinson (43-42) while losing two games by a single basket. Farmington won 65-63 in triple overtime with Alma edging the 'Hawks 64-62. The 'Hawks four losses were by a grand total of 6 points.
MaxPreps State 4A
Basketball girls poll
4. Pea Ridge^15-3
5. Star City^13-2
21. Heber Springs^8-6
24. Valley View^6-8
25. Prairie Grove^5-7
37. Forrest City^3-7
MaxPreps/CBS State 4A
Boys basketball poll
6. Forrest City^6-5
10. Pea Ridge^14-4
20. Valley View^7-6
25. Star City^9-4
40. Heber Springs^6-9
42. Prairie Grove^3-9
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 email@example.com.Sports on 01/09/2019
Print Headline: Change: 4A-1 basketball conference in two divisions