School’s out; it’s game time

Circled are the six Monticello players that were spotted on the court during the regional tournament game Feb. 22. The photo is used with permission from a Magnolia Facebook post.

Circled are the six Monticello players that were spotted on the court during the regional tournament game Feb. 22. The photo is used with permission from a Magnolia Facebook post.

Koesha Davis, Journalist

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For the Panther basketball team, it’s showtime. The boys play their first state tournament game against Morrilton at 2:30 p.m., Feb. 28, in Panther Arena.

Panthers will not only have the home-court advantage, but school is letting out at 1:30 to guarantee fans turn out in big numbers. The air is electric. For a week now, fans have rehashed the regional tournament.

With high hopes, the boys traveled to Mena Feb. 20. The boys were able to win easily, 62-46, against Mena, but two days later they lost 58-55 against Monticello in a tight game, a game where six players from the Monticello team were spotted on the court at one time.

A technical foul should have been issued, but the referees who apparently missed it did not call one, so the Monticello Billies were able to continue to score and ultimately defeat Magnolia. Photos of the incident have circulated on Facebook.

Some fans argue that the Panthers missing so many free throws cost them the game, not the player ratio. Markeveon Strickland, senior team member, said, “I feel like everything happens for a reason, and we just came up short.”

The Panthers, however, ended the regional tournament with a 68-57 win against Camden on Feb. 23, which earned them the third-seed spot on the state tournament bracket. Korey Fulton said, “We won two and lost one, and that left us with the third seed for the state tournament.”

Fulton added, “Without those wins, we wouldn’t be the last seed or even in the state tournament at all.” He’s right.

Twenty-eight games are scheduled for the Class 4A State Basketball Tournament with the first tip-off at 1 p.m. Feb 27. In all, 24 teams — 12 boys’ teams and 12 girls’ teams — will play. The semi-final games are scheduled for Saturday, March 2. The final game to determine the Class 4A title will be played the following weekend in Hot Springs.

Basketball manager Shermar Easter said, “It’s all or nothing, so we will have to play and give it all we got.” Easter added, “I think the boys will do great.”

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