Sluggish Pirates squeak out win

Drew Central ends 10-0 against 4A teams this winter

After Friday’s performance at home against Crossett, there’s a pretty good chance Drew Central head boys’ basketball coach C.J. Watson didn’t mind Tuesday’s snow that postponed the top-ranked Pirates’ game at Fordyce.
The postponement will give his now 16-1 charges more practice time, which Watson said after a tougher-than-expected 70-65 victory over the Eagles at Drew Central Gymnasium they desperately need.
“I thought we struggled on defense,” Watson said of the five-point win which gave Class 3A DC a perfect 10-0 record against 4A teams in 2017-18 (two wins each against Monticello, Crossett, Hamburg and Warren, and one victory over DeWitt and Pea Ridge) and kept the Pirates atop’s Arkansas 3A rankings. “We didn’t play well at all. We have to play better down the stretch.”
That stretch run—eight games, all against 3A, District 8 teams—was supposed to begin Tuesday but Mother Nature had other ideas. Drew Central is finally through with the Arkansas Activities Association’s two-year experiment with “blended” conferences. The remaining contests, though all will also be 12-3A4A games, will count toward determining seeding for the 8-3A district tournament.
As it stands, the Pirates are technically 10-0 in the AAA’s 12-3A4A, but only the outcomes against Fordyce, McGehee, Junction City, Lake Village Lakeside and Smackover count. DC has started 8-3A action 2-0.
With a makeup date not yet set against the Redbugs, Watson’s focus is now on Friday’s game at Lakeside. There remain several tough contests—not the least of which are two meetings with DC’s arch-rival McGehee, No. 7 in the 3A rankings (Jan. 26 at McGehee and Feb. 6 at home).
Friday, sophomore Travarus Shead scored 17 points to pace Drew Central against Crossett while senior Montiel Daniels followed closely with 16. Daniels’ classmate, Jalen Williams, also reached double figures against the Eagles, chipping in with 13 points.
The Pirates expanded a two-point advantage after eight minutes to seven at intermission with a 20-15 burst in the second quarter—the only period that lopsided. After halftime, Crossett constantly chipped away at DC’s lead but was only able to pull two points closer.
Williams kept the hosts close after intermission with a 7-for-7 performance from the three-throw line. Finishing 8-for-12, the 5-foot-5 guard made his last eight consecutive charity shots while contributing one of only two made three-point shots for the Pirates. Daniels netted the other.
Drew Central will be able to enjoy playing both the 8-3A tournament (Feb. 12-17) and the 3A State Championships (Feb. 27 through March 3) on its home court (see accompanying story). The 3A Region 4 tournament (Feb. 19-24) was awarded to Fordyce.
First things first, though. Friday’s tipoff is 5 p.m., weather permitting.

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