Black­hawks host Bat­tle of the Ridge

The Times (Northeast Benton County) - - SCHOOL/SPORTS - JOHN MCGEE Spe­cial to The TIMES

Boys bas­ket­ball coach Trent Loyd said he be­lieves this will be the strong­est field yet for the the an­nual Bat­tle of the Ridge Bas­ket­ball Tour­na­ment.

“We have some new teams, and there will be a lot of good games this week,” Loyd said. “I think it is the best field we have ever had.”

The field this year in­cludes the host team, Ber­ryville, Joe T. Robin­son (Lit­tle Rock), Bear­den and ESTEM (Lit­tle Rock) from Arkansas, McDon­ald County and Neosho from Mis­souri, with in­de­pen­dent Providence Academy from Rogers. Rogers Providence is a mem­ber of a pri­vate school league based in Ok­la­homa.

The Black­hawks will open with bor­der-team McDon­ald County in first round ac­tion at 7 p.m. Thurs­day. The Mus­tangs fell be­low .500 last sea­son, los­ing nine of their first 10 games in 2017, but made a come­back later in the sea­son, and may be look­ing for a break out sea­son. They are ranked in the mid­dle of a 94-team clas­si­fi­ca­tion in Mis­souri which compares to the Arkansas 5A class.

The other two teams in the Black­hawks’ brack­ett in­cludes Robin­son and Bear­den. These two teams have 2-1 records with Robin­son ranked 15th in the state in 4A. They play at 4 p.m. Thurs­day.

In the other bracket, ESTEM takes on Neosho at 5:30 Thurs­day. ESTEM is ranked ninth in the 4A state, with Neosho ranked 70th among well over 100 teams a Mis­souri clas­si­fi­ca­tion cor­re­spond­ing to 6A in Arkansas, the big school leagues. Neosho is 0-3 with ESTEM hav­ing a 2-1 mark.

In the fi­nal game Thurs­day, the 4A sev­enth-ranked Ber­ryville Bob­cats take on Providence in the night cap. Providence is 5-3 and is ranked 27th in Ok­la­homa’s small school class, among 147 other teams from across the Sooner state. Providence has been an Ok­la­homa pri­vate school state cham­pion re­cently even they re­side out­side their bor­ders.

If the ’Hawks can dis­pose of McDon­ald County, they would play the win­ner of Robin­son/Bear­den game at 7 p.m. Fri­day. The cham­pi­onship game is set for 3:30 p.m. Satur­day.

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