Parkers Chapel’s Lady Trojans have spent a lot of the early season picking on people not their own size. The Lady Trojans competed in the Heavenly Hoopfest Tournament in Little Rock, beating 5A Mount St. Mary’s before falling to 4A Pulaski Academy and 4A Heber Springs.
Parkers Chapel will take its 4-2 record to Magnet Cove’s Battle at the Cove Tournament this week with a date against 3A Centerpoint on Wednesday, beginning at 4 p.m.
Coach Justin Welch said the challenging schedule hasn’t offered many surprises.
“I think it’s pretty much what I expected. They’re giving me great effort on the court. We just have to shake a little bit of rust off during the early part of the season and clean up a few things especially when we’re playing some of those bigger schools,” he said.
“Those are pretty good basketball teams we played against. We hit a few shots early in both of those games and it might’ve been a different outcome. We’ve had a few slower starts in the first half. We end up getting into our groove in the second half, but we have to do a better job preparing and being ready for the game when that ball gets tossed up.”
During the Heavenly Hoopfest, Parkers Chapel played four games in five days, including three trips to Little Rock. That included three games in three days. The Lady Trojans beat Hampton Friday night and then lost to Heber Springs 43-31 Saturday morning in Little Rock.
Welch said that’s just the type of early-season challenge that could benefit his team at the end of the year.
“It’s a gut check game. It was the consolation game, playing for third place and it’s an early game in Little Rock. But I feel like the girls competed really hard,” he explained. “Again, if we could’ve hit a couple of baskets in that first period, things probably would’ve turned out a little bit differently. Once we found our groove, we ended up scoring 24 points in that fourth period. It’s just one of those things where you have to get used to traveling and going on the road and playing quality teams. If you don’t ever do it, then you can’t get used to it. I really believe we get a lot out of it. It’s a mentally challenging and physically challenging tournament but the kids love it.
“If we can turn a tough loss in November into a win later on in the conference season, that’s a huge advantage. I really think we’ve done really good about that in the past, learning from certain situations. I think that’s what non-conference is all about. Ultimately, they’re really just practice games when you get down to it. I know they count on our record but that’s what non-conference is all about is challenging your team.”
Centerpoint represents the next hurdle for the Lady Trojans in a single-elimination tournament. The Lady Knights are 1-0 with a 36-34 win over Fountain Lake. They were scheduled to play Nashville on Tuesday.
“I really think they’re going to be a good quality basketball team,” said Welch. “We’re looking for a challenge, that’s for sure.”
For the Lady Trojans, piling up wins before Christmas isn’t the primary goal. The team always has an eye for the postseason, especially this season after falling short of the state tournament a year ago.
“I’m really proud of the girls’ effort on the court. That’s the thing about this group, they’ll give you all they have,” Welch said. “I try to remind them I don’t need them playing their best basketball in November. We want to be playing our best basketball in February and March, hopefully. That’s the goal.”