Fouke girls win title on ‘Hail Mary’; Drew Central spoils Panthers’ parade

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Fouke
Fouke senior Laykin Smallwood is picked up and hugged by a teammate after she scored with two seconds left to rally the Lady Panthers past Centerpoint Saturday night at the Prescott Arena.

PRESCOTT, Ark. – Fouke senior Laykin Smallwood threw up a prayer with two seconds left, and the Lady Panthers trailing Centerpoint by two points.

The result was Smallwood’s third 3-pointer of the game, giving Fouke the 3A South Regional Championship, 61-60, at the Prescott Arena.

Fouke
Senior Laykin Smallwood led Fouke with 18 points, including a 3-pointer with two seconds left in the game for a 61-60 victory over Centerpoint.

As if that wasn’t enough excitement for the overflow crowd, Ashdown’s boys jumped out to a 13-0 lead, but lost the boys’ title to Drew Central, 46-45. James Smith scored for the Panthers at the final buzzer, and was knocked to the floor. However, there was no call, and the Pirates went home the top seed for next week’s state tournament.

Fouke coach was at a loss for words

Fouke girls coach Mo Williams was speechless for several minutes after Saturday night’s incredible win.

“Laykin just heaved it up there with two players in her face and time running out,” said Williams. “It really shouldn’t have gone in, but it did. I don’t know what else to say. Both teams played so hard. It really boiled down to who was gong to have the ball last.”

Fouke
Jasmine Keener sinks a free throw for Centerpoint Saturday night against Fouke.

After a cold-shooting performance Friday night in the semifinals, Fouke converted 10 3-pointers against the Lady Knights. Smallwood led the Panthers with 19 points, while Taylor Hardin added 18 points, including three treys. Jaide Vavra led Centerpoint with 14 points, while Jasmine Keener added 10.

The boys game between Drew Central and Ashdown was a physical confrontation. It appeared the officials were trying to let both teams play, or it would have been a foul-fest.

Ashdown had late scoring opportunities

The Pirates appeared to have the game in hand with a 45-39 lead and only 47 seconds left. They gave Ashdown (25-2) every opportunity to rally by missing five of six free throws during that period, but the Panthers were ice-cold from the field. It didn’t help that 6-3 Lamar Wilkerson didn’t play because of a knee injury suffered Friday night.

“When we got up 13-0 I tried to tell the guys the game was far from over,” said Smith. “We were thinking this is going to be easy, but Drew Central didn’t lay down, they didn’t think it was over. They shot the ball well, and we didn’t guard No. 1 (Zeb Trantham). It might have been different if we had our No. 12 (Wilkerson). We’ll know Monday if we’re going to have Lamar for the state tournament.”

Fouke
Ashdown coaches, and injured star Lamar Wilkerson, viewed Saturday’s regional title game at the Prescott Arena.

The Panthers were led by senior Kaiden Hunter’s 15 points, but the flashy guard did not have his best game shooting. Smith scored 10 points for Ashdown.

Trantham led the Pirates with 18 points, including four 3-pointers. Nicky Bernard finished with 11 points, all in the second half.

In other regional tournaments Magnolia’s boys won the 4A third-place game over Camden Fairview, 68-47. Junction City swept the 2A titles on their home court. The boys beat Hampton, 74-70, while the Lady Dragons beat Spring Hill, 58-52. Lafayette County’s boys were third, defeating Parkers Chapel, 68-65. Murfreesboro’s girls beat Cossatot River, 63-57.

Nevada County won the Class A regional at Bradley over Dermott, 74-70. The host Bears humbled Kirby for third place, 72-49. Kirby’s girls took home the first-place plaque by routing Blevins, 80-44. Emerson edged Caddo Hills, 56-52.

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