Local teams will be filling up the bracket when County Line, Paris, and Scranton all head to Ozark for the Bank OZK Classic just after Christmas. The tournament has become almost a tradition for the local teams, many of which do not see each other during the regular season anymore.
On the ladies' side of the bracket, County Line will come in off a three-game homestand. Friday night, they shut down Oark 53-20, playing the entire roster for much of the second half. They have shown streaks of hot shooting, but their record has hovered right at .500 all season long. They have done well in neutral site games, including a tournament win over Paris after dropping a game to the Lady Eagles in Paris at the beginning of the season. The Lady Eagles have still not had a full, healthy roster this season, and their scoring has been erratic. Jadyn Hart has been a consistent contributor, scoring 83 points in the three games of the Lavaca tournament. Still, the Eagles are young with only one senior on the roster. A key number for the Lady Eagles is 53. They have not won a game this season when they give up more than 53 points. The defense will need to show up for the Lady Eagles on the road. Scranton has recorded a home win over Paris, but the Lady Rockets must have the defensive intensity for success. The Lady Rockets are also sitting at .500 heading to the tournament. When they can pressure and force turnovers, they can play with anyone. However, if they get in foul trouble from playing aggressive, they do not have the depth of many of the rosters they will face.
On the guys' side of the tournament, County Line comes into the final week of school in December, riding a three-game win streak. In their 24 point win over Oark, they showed excellent ball movement and were able to get their full bench some quality minutes. Look for the Indians to fare well if they score 50 points or more. They have only one loss, the season opener to Wonderview, where they scored 50 points in a loss. At 1-9, the Paris Eagles are still looking for answers. They have yet to play a complete game, struggling to close out in the second half. Though they have been close in most of the contests, it has been scoring woes, like the 13 second-half points against Perryville, that has seen them struggle. If Nick Bazyk and Dylan Krigbaum can score with consistency, Paris could quickly turn their season around in the second half. The Bank OZK Classic will be an excellent opportunity for them to find their groove. The Scranton Rockets are sitting at 11-6 and have only one home loss. What is even more impressive about their record, they played in their tournament without two key players. The Rockets find ways to win, and Cesar Rodrigues can drive and dish as well as anyone in the region. Look for the Rockets to surprise some people in Ozark.
The tournament starts on December 27 in Ozark.