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CLASS 6A GIRLS BASKETBALL PREVIEW BY ERICK TAYLOR

by Erick Taylor | November 15, 2022 at 4:00 a.m.
3d rendering of an orange rubber surface of a basketball ball shown on a black background. Basketball league. Team play. One ball in court. basketball tile / Getty Images

Class 6A

Girls

EARLY SEASON SUPER SIX

1. Conway

2. North Little Rock

3. Springdale Har-Ber

4. Bentonville

5. Fort Smith Northside

6. Little Rock Central

ON THE BRINK Cabot, Rogers Heritage, Fayetteville

TOP TEAMS AT A GLANCE

1. Conway

COACH Ashley Hutchcraft

CONFERENCE 6A-Central

2021-22 RECORD 28-2

LAST YEAR'S FINAL RANKING No. 2

TOP RETURNERS Chloe Clardy (5-10, Sr.), Savannah Scott (6-5, Sr.), Kaidyn Beckwith (5-5, Sr.), Emerie Bohanon (5-7, So.)

MARQUEE TESTS Nov. 21 vs. Parkway (La.), Nov. 29 vs. Greenwood, Jan. 6 vs. North Little Rock, Feb. 3 at North Little Rock

NOTEWORTHY This should be marked as a redemption season for Conway, which was shocked by No. 6 Little Rock Central in the second round of the state tournament last season. ... The Lady Wampus Cats will have more scoring out of their reserves this year, led by super sophomores Alexis Cox and Samyah Jordan. ... A host of can't miss games dot Conway's slate, from the matchup with Mikayla Williams and Parkway (La.) to two battles with rival No. 2 North Little Rock.

2. North Little Rock

COACH Daryl Fimple

CONFERENCE 6A-Central

2021-22 RECORD 29-4

LAST YEAR'S FINAL RANKING No. 1

TOP RETURNERS April Edwards (5-9, Sr.), Garin Freeman (5-5, Sr.), Ja'Miya Brown (5-10, Sr.), Jocelyn Tate (5-10, Jr.)

MARQUEE TESTS Nov. 21 vs. Bartlett (Tenn.), Dec. 9 at Springdale Har-Ber, Jan. 3 at Little Rock Central, Feb. 3 vs. Conway

NOTEWORTHY The defending state champions lost a key pair in Amauri Williams and Destine Duckworth, who are now at Vanderbilt and Southern Illinois-Edwardsville, respectively, but Fimple's team isn't going anywhere any time soon. ... Brown, who also committed to SIU-Edwardsville, may become one of the Lady Charging Wildcats' go-to players. ... Tate and Freeman are pace-setters and can change the complexion of games, particularly on the defensive end when engaged.

3. Springdale Har-Ber

COACH Kimberly Jenkins

CONFERENCE 6A-West

2021-22 RECORD 22-5

LAST YEAR'S FINAL RANKING No. 4

TOP RETURNERS Mary Blake Martfeld (5-9, Sr.), Delaney Roller (5-10, Jr.), Pacious McDaniel (5-10, Sr.), Galatia Andrew (5-4, Sr.)

MARQUEE TESTS Dec. 9 vs. North Little Rock, Dec. 10 vs. Greenwood, Jan. 3 at Fort Smith Northside, Feb. 10 at Bentonville

NOTEWORTHY The Lady Wildcats will have a lot of depth this year, and that'll help them in what should be a competitive 6A-West. .... Players like Andrew, who has signed with Rockhurst (Mo.) University, Roller and Martfeld, won't be sneaking up on anyone -- opponents will have to be cognizant of their whereabouts. ... Har-Ber will find out quickly over the first 10 days of December what its made of because it has games against No. 4 Bentonville, No. 2 North Little Rock and Class 5A No. 1 Greenwood.

4. Bentonville

COACH Tom Halbmaier

CONFERENCE 6A-West

2021-22 RECORD 20-8

LAST YEAR'S FINAL RANKING Unranked

TOP RETURNERS Ella Campbell (5-9, Sr.), Abbey Kate Sanders (5-9, Sr.), Samantha Rhuda (5-10, Sr.), Olivia Rustad (5-9, Sr.)

MARQUEE TESTS Dec. 8 vs. Greenwood, Dec. 10 vs. North Little Rock, Jan. 27 at Fayetteville, Feb. 10 vs. Springdale Har-Ber

NOTEWORTHY Jada Brown left a last impression for the Lady Tigers before she left for Vanderbilt, but the Lady Tigers could be in for a re-emergence of sorts following last season's second-round exit from the playoffs. ... Campbell was an all-conference and all-state pick last year when she averaged nearly 13 points and drilled a school-record 72 three-pointers. ... Sanders, who averaged 6 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists as a junior, recently signed with John Brown University.

5. Fort Smith Northside

COACH Rickey Smith

CONFERENCE 6A-West

2021-22 RECORD 28-5

LAST YEAR'S FINAL RANKING No. 3

TOP RETURNERS Erianna Gooden (6-0, So.), Karys Washington (5-9, Sr.), Erikka Gooden (5-11, So.)

MARQUEE TESTS Dec. 22 at Bentonville West, Jan. 3 vs. Springdale Har-Ber, Jan. 17 at Bentonville, Feb. 10 vs. Fayetteville

NOTEWORTHY Another year means another reloading job for Smith, who's won more than 700 games and eight state titles during his 29 years at powerhouse Northside. ... The Gooden sisters will be front and center, especially Erianna, who was on the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette All-Arkansas Preps Underclassman team following her impressive freshman year. ... The Lady Bears are making their return in the 6A-West and will challenge Har-Ber and Bentonville for supremacy.

6. Little Rock Central

COACH Marlon Williams

CONFERENCE 6A-Central

2021-22 RECORD 21-10

LAST YEAR'S FINAL RANKING No. 5

TOP RETURNERS Silondra Ingraham (5-9, Sr.), Ashlyn Kimble (5-3, Jr.), Aven Sasser (6-1, Jr.), Jordan Marshall (6-0, Jr.)

MARQUEE TESTS Nov. 29 at West Memphis, Dec. 9 vs. Nashville, Jan. 3 vs. North Little Rock, Jan. 17 vs. Conway

NOTEWORTHY Fans saw a glimpse of what this young team could do in March when the Lady Tigers upset Conway en route to reaching the 6A semifinals. ... Central, equipped with several up-and-coming players, namely Marshall and Sasser, gets Taylor Day Davis back after she suffered an injury last season. ... The Lady Tigers will have a busy first two months when they face the top teams in Class 4A and Class 5A before they even get into 6A-Central play.

IMPACT PLAYERS TO WATCH

1. Senior Chloe Clardy, Conway, Guard

The No. 1 player in Arkansas will try to top what she's done the previous three years, which will be hard to do. But no one's betting against Clardy. The Stanford signee and 2021-22 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette All-Arkansas Preps Player of the Year can score whenever she wants, but it's her activity without the ball that gives teams even more trouble. She's a willing passer, too, and that's not a good thing for whomever is in front of her.

2. Senior April Edwards, North Little Rock, Guard

Edwards has been solid since her freshman year and will continue to shoulder plenty with her scoring, rebounding and playmaking. The senior has the ability to post up or knock down shots from the perimeter. When that's not working, she has enough blow-by quickness to do just that to get to the rim.

3. Senior Pacious McDaniel, Springdale Har-Ber, Guard/Forward

Look for McDaniel, who's got offers from Division II schools like Arkansas Tech and Harding, to again be a walking mismatch for Har-Ber. She averaged 20 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals last season, and there's a better than good chance she'll duplicate that. The Lady Wildcats will be favorites again in the West, and their top player is a big reason why.

OTHERS TO KEEP ON THE RADAR Carlee Casteel, Rogers Heritage; Lauren Lain, Bryant; Wynter Beck, Fayetteville; Bramyia Johnson, Jonesboro; Jaycie Cook, Cabot

Print Headline: CLASS 6A GIRLS BASKETBALL PREVIEW BY ERICK TAYLOR

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