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3/30/2020

Arkadelphia junior post player Ashari Whitaker provided a much-needed presence under the hoop Friday morning as the Lady Badgers bullied past Magnet Cove 44-39 in the Chartwells Spa City Shootout at Bank OZK Arena. Whitaker pulled down 6 rebounds while providing a pair of key blocks in the win, and she put up 8 of her 13 points from inside the paint. "One of the things we focused on today and told them we were doing was we were really wanting to look inside and try to get her involved early and trying to get her going early," said Arkadelphia head coach Jonathan Klein. "We didn't do a great job at that, but she did a good job of just being a good presence inside. That's something we've talked to her about, just being a presence, and I thought she did a good job of stepping up and doing that." Magnet Cove (3-9) trailed by 5 at the break, but it pulled within 20-17 just 52 seconds into the second half. The spread hovered around 3 points until junior Lady Panther Emma Golden was fed a pass from senior Riley Green to tie the game at 25-all with 4:20 to go in the third quarter. Green hit a 3-pointer with 2:10 to go to give the Lady Panthers their first lead of the half, but a free throw by junior Kyla Elgas and bucket by classmate Kailyn Rook-Sims knotted the score again at the 1:25 mark as the Lady Badgers closed out the stanza on a 7-0 run. Rook-Sims hit a shot 11 seconds into the final frame to push Arkadelphia to an 8-point lead as the teams traded baskets until junior Hailey Nix pulled up from outside the arc for a trey off a Whitaker assist at the 3:48 mark for a 41-32 lead. The Lady Panthers pulled within 5 with 3:02 remaining as junior Zoee Rednour sank a bucket to make it 41-36. Nix provided the final points for the Lady Badgers, going 3 for 4 from the charity stripe, and senior Kaitlyn Fletcher nailed a 3-pointer with 28 seconds remaining to end the Lady Panthers' scoring....

12/30/2019

PEA RIDGE -- Arkadelphia appeared to be headed for its first loss of the season when a pair of offensive rebounds gave the Badgers new life with under five seconds left Friday night. Trailing 49-47, Antoine Palmer somehow pulled down an offensive rebound in a crowd of Pea Ridge players and drew a shooting foul when he tried to go back up with a shot. Palmer hit the first free throw to cut the margin to 49-48 but missed the second. Arkadelphia's 6-foot-6 senior Sam Smith gathered in the long rebound off Palmer's miss and also drew a shooting foul with 1.2 seconds left. Smith sank both free throws, and the Badgers claimed a 50-49 win in the semifinals of the Battle at the Ridge Tournament to advance to today's 3:30 p.m. championship game against Estem, a 64-51 winner against Joe T. Robinson in the other semifinal. "This is a big win for our team," said Badgers coach Donald Williams. "To go on the road and get a win like this against a well-coached team, disciplined. To come up here and play a team like this and get a win, I'm just pleased with the kids and the effort. That's all we can do this time of year. I really don't know what else to say. I'm just ecstatic. I didn't think we had a chance." Smith, a move-in from Gurdon, was huge early for Arkadelphia (8-0), scoring 16 of his game-high 25 points in the first half to help the Badgers to a 31-29 lead at halftime. Smith was a force inside, but he also knocked down three 3-pointers in a well-rounded game....

12/16/2019

ARKADELPHIA -- Cannon Turner rushed for 115 yards and two touchdowns as the Badgers (11-1) cruised past DeWitt (7-5). Arkadelphia's Buster Thomas, Jaishon Davis and Alex Lloyd each added scores. Kyren Harrison added 169 yards rushing for the Badgers. ...

11/23/2019

With its senior leader watching from the sidelines because of injury, Arkadelphia turned to its defense to create offense to again turn the tables on Joe T. Robinson on Friday night. The Badgers scored 14 points off four Senator turnovers and got a huge play from their special teams late to walk away from Charlie George Stadium with a 28-27, 7-4A conference victory in a rematch of last season's Class 4A state championship game. "This game right here just shows how much character our players have," said Arkadelphia coach J.R. Eldridge, whose team blistered Robinson 28-0 in the final a year ago. "The way they were able to handle adversity, to be able to put on more steam on offense, defense and special teams. ... That says volumes about these guys. Even when we made mistakes, we were able to continue to put on more steam and come out of here with a victory." Arkadelphia (4-1, 1-1) needed everything it could get to hold off Robinson, especially after the Badgers lost all-everything quarterback Cannon Turner late in the first half. The senior, who was named the most valuable player of the past two Class 4A state title games and came in averaging more than 100 yards rushing, carried 8 times for only 20 yards and completed just 4-of-8 passes for 104 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions before leaving the game with just under six minutes left in the second quarter after suffering an apparent shoulder injury while returning a kickoff. He also picked off two passes from his safety spot, returning one for a 47-yard touchdown. Yet, for all the Badgers did right in his absence, it was a blocked extra point that kept them out front. Robinson pulled within one, 28-27, on an 18-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Buddy Gaston to senior wide receiver P.J. Hall with 6:20 remaining in the game. But a pair of Arkadelphia players got a hand on the ensuing point-after attempt, and the Badgers were able to seal it when senior linebacker Cole Turner recovered a fumble with 1:14 to go. Cannon Turner's exit, however, seemed to galvanize the Badgers, who overcame four turnovers themselves to break the Senators' hearts a second time. Junior Braeden Thomas, who filled in for Turner, ran for 105 of his 108 yards after halftime and finished with three touchdowns, including a go-ahead 8-yard score with 8:26 remaining in the game. Junior running back Hunter Smith ran 23 times for 143 yards for Robinson (4-1, 1-1), which had won the past three regular-season meetings between the two but couldn't get out of its own way in this one. To go along with their four giveaways, the Senators also turned the ball over on downs twice. "You're not going to win a game like this when you turn the ball over like that," Robinson coach Todd Eskola said. "That was the story of the whole game. The kids played hard, and I've got to coach better. "But when you have basically six turnovers, you're not going to win a game." Junior defensive back James Jordan returned two interceptions for touchdowns and Gaston was 9-of-19 passing for 151 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions for the Senators, who couldn't build on its 21-14 halftime lead. Robinson covered 83 yards in eight plays, with Gaston tossing a 7-yard touchdown pass to Hall with 9:07 left in the first quarter, to grab a 7-0 lead. Turner countered quickly on Arkadelphia's first play from scrimmage by finding Thomas behind the Senators' secondary for a 69-yard score. Turner's interception return gave the Badgers a 14-7 lead, but Jordan responded with a 48-yard scoring return to tie it with 11:18 showing in the second quarter. A little more than six minutes later, Jordan shifted the advantage back to Robinson with an 85-yard interception return for a touchdown. "Our defense did a great job," Eskola said. "They played their butts off. ... That's what's so disappointing about it. The offense just couldn't get it going like we wanted to." Thomas tied the game at 21-21 with a 4-yard score with 5:46 remaining in the third quarter, then gave Arkadelphia the lead back for good with his eight-yarder in the fourth. "He's is an outstanding athlete and made some things happen when we had to have it," Eldridge said of Thomas. "He showed confidence and stay poised throughout that second half and really kept us going on offense. But the effort from everybody, especially that defense, was just unbelievable. "Getting to the football, being really violent when we got there and then finishing off plays. ... I just can't say enough about them."...

10/7/2019

ARKADELPHIA, Ark. — Nashville went into the belly of the Class 4A beast and came away with one of the program's biggest regular-season football victories. Senior Jhonny Pioquinto kicked a 30-yard field goal with 21 seconds to play and the Scrappers held on to defeat the two-time defending Class 4A state champion Arkadelphia Badgers, 22-21, Friday night at Badger Stadium. The field goal didn't come without controversy, however. Arkadelphia players and Coach J.R. Eldridge thought they had heard a whistle from one of the officials during the attempt and they stopped as Pioquinto knocked his kick through the uprights. Eldridge went out to midfield to argue with officials and received a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that resulted in Nashville's ensuing kickoff being at the Arkadelphia 45. The Badgers couldn't muster anything offensively, as they had a false start penalty on the first play of their final drive, then senior quarterback Cannon Turner threw four consecutive incompletions to end the game. "I thought it was from an official," Eldridge said of the whistle he thought he heard. "The whistle came after the ball had been snapped, so my guys stopped. I'll probably see it on film. "But those things happen. Bottom line, we didn't do enough earlier in the game. Nashville's got a good football team." Nashville (4-0, 1-0 7-4A Conference) snapped a 13-game winning streak by Arkadelphia (3-1, 0-1). The Badgers' last loss was on Sept. 28, 2018, against Joe T. Robinson. They went on to win 10 games in a row and their second consecutive Class 4A state championship. Scrappers Coach Mike Volarvich was proud of how his team responded after trailing 21-13 with 6:27 left in the third quarter. "We talked about it for the last two weeks. We felt like if we could be in the game in the second half, I thought we could pull it out," Volarvich said. "I know Arkadelphia prides itself as a second-half team. But we do, too." Junior running back Keyshawn Stewart rushed for 63 yards and one touchdown on 15 carries for Nashville. Quarterback Ty Gordon, also a junior, finished with 121 yards passing and one touchdown, an 81-yard pass to senior wide receiver Ty Basiliere. With 6:32 remaining, senior running back Jacobe Jefferson scored from 7 yards out to cut the Badgers' lead to 21-19, but Stewart's 2-point conversion pass attempt was no good. Arkadelphia then drove to the Nashville 28 before its drive stalled with Turner's incomplete pass that left 2:13 remaining and three timeouts for the Scrappers. From there, Nashville went to work. Stewart threw a 32-yard pass to Basiliere that put the ball at the Arkadelphia 40. Senior running back Carmillias Morrison ran 12 yards to the Arkadelphia 12, which helped set up Pioquinto's field goal. "He's been money," Volarvich said of Pioquinto. "That last drive, our goal was to get into field goal range because we have all the confidence in the world in that guy." The Badgers trailed 6-0 at halftime after not being able to take advantage of two interceptions by junior defensive back Kalan Jones. But Arkadelphia took a 21-13 lead with 6:37 left in the third quarter, with two 8-yard touchdown runs by senior running back Kyren Harrison and a 3-yard scoring run by Turner. Stewart provided the only scoring play of the first half with an 11-yard touchdown run with 8:11 left in the second quarter to give Nashville a 6-0 lead as Pioquinto missed the extra-point attempt. For Arkadelphia, Turner was held to 43 yards passing, but had 124 yards rushing on 12 carries. Harrison rushed for 102 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries. ...

9/29/2019

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