In games played in Logan and Crawford counties last night, the 2020-21 Paris boys and girls basketball seasons came to an end with defeats in the district tournament quarterfinals. In Cedarville, the Lady Eagles fell to the Lady Pirates by a score of 50-39. Meanwhile, in Booneville, the Eagles lost to the Bearcats by a score of 73-46. The losses eliminated Paris from the district tournament, and the season comes to an end for the Eagles and Lady Eagles.
After splitting the regular season series with Cedarville, the Lady Eagles were playing the Lady Pirates again on their home floor for the second time this year. In the first quarter, Cedarville came out with good hustle and tough defense, as did the Lady Eagles who were able to force Cedarville to make several offensive errors with tough defense of their own. By the time the quarter ended, Cedarville had a slim 9-8 lead over Paris.
Cedarville started the second quarter hitting shots from the floor. Cedarville picked up the pace and had started to solve the Paris defense. Paris struggled on offense to get shots to fall, and by the end of the first half, Cedarvillle had built a 23-15 lead.
The Lady Eagles’ shooting woes continued into the third quarter when shots just didn’t seem to fall again for Paris. Part of this was due to a tough defense played by Cedarville that was setting the tone for the game. After three quarters, Cedarville led Paris by the score of 37-28.
Paris senior Jadyn Hart, playing what would be her final game of her basketball career, played her heart out for the entire game. As the game progressed into the fourth quarter, the Cedarville defense was shutting the Paris offense down and the Lady Eagles just couldn’t get anything to fall on offense. Paris played hard and with great passion, but it was the Lady Pirates of Cedarville winning by a score of 50-39 and advancing to the semifinals of the district tournament and qualifying for the regional tournament.
After the game, and emotional Lady Eagles coach, Donald Hart, had this to say; “It wasn’t the outcome we hoped for our seniors and the team. I was happy that we got the chance (to play in the quarterfinals) to decide our fate on the court. As far as the season, our record may not be great but we battled through COVID adversity losing games and players multiple times during the season. Even playing through that adversity we still had a good season. Out of 23 games, there were only three games that we weren’t in. We lost several games in overtime or by a few points and I think that is a testament that this fine young team has the potential to do great things in the future. Win or lose, I’m very proud of this team.”
The Paris boys were also playing to possibly advance to the semis and on to the regional tournament when they traveled to Booneville to take on the four seed Bearcats. The game featured a meeting of the number five seed Eagles with the winner moving on to Waldron on Thursday to play the top-seeded Bulldogs.
From the outset, the Booneville Bearcats played tough, full-court defense and ran on every opportunity on offense. Led by all-everything senior Jacob Herrera, the Bearcats never let Paris get established offensively and turned the game into a mad scrambled that enabled the Bearcats to seemingly score at will. Paris struggled to get shots off offensively and Booneville hit shots from virtually anywhere on the floor.
The game was played at a frantic pace for most of the time with both teams forcing turnovers on defense. By the end of the first quarter, Paris was still in the game, but the Bearcats were starting to build a lead that they would never surrender for the rest of the game. At the end of the first quarter, Booneville led Paris 21-14.
The tough Booneville defense continued to be a factor in the second quarter and allowed the Bearcats to build a 35-24 halftime lead. The Booneville defensive pressure was relentless, forcing multiple Paris turnovers with many converting into scoring opportunities for Booneville. The effects of the pressure were starting to wear on Paris, and in the third quarter, the game would be put out of reach for Paris.
In the third, the Bearcats outscored Paris 25-9 and broke the game open. The tough Booneville defense was having its way with Paris, and Paris struggled on seemingly every offensive possession. The game was being officiated in such a way that players were able to play aggressively and the effect was players hitting the floor frequently, hands on players, and players being allowed to reach in at will against offensive players.
As the game concluded in the fourth quarter, Paris continued to fight hard and never gave up against the fierce Booneville pressure. Senior Caleb Cunningham, also playing his final game of his career, again played hard on every possession. The final score was Booneville defeating Paris 73-46 and advancing on Thursday to play at Waldron. If the officiating allows the game to be played in Waldron the same way it was played in Booneville, the Bearcats will have a very good chance to upset the Bulldogs. Booneville is well-coached and plays a fast-paced game, much like the Waldron Bulldogs. Waldron is tough to play on their court, so Booneville will need to bring a lot of energy to the Waldron multi-purpose facility on Thursday.
Paris coach Blain Brewington said after the game, “Disappointed with how we finished the season on a tough loss. Told the kids we would not let a bad loss define our season. We got better everyday and worked hard everyday. To go from 5-22 to 12-12 is a testament to our kids and the amount of work, time and effort they have put into our program when we got rolling on June 1st. Our seniors helped lay the foundation for what we are building in Paris. We re an extremely young basketball team. If we continue to work hard and be coachable, our freshmen, sophomores, and juniors have a chance to accomplish great things in the future. We will take a couple of weeks off and get back to work before spring break. The off-season will be huge for us physically and mentally. I feel our kids are up to the challenge to get better.”
The semifinalist of the district tournament have now qualified for regionals, and their final games will determine seedings for the state tournament. The regional tournament is scheduled to start next week at Bergman High School.
Resident Press has enjoyed bringing you Paris basketball this season. Young Eagles and Lady Eagles teams gained valuable experience this season, and both teams should be very competitive next year. Both teams seemed to turn the corner in February. With a good off-season and a return to summer club sports play, Paris basketball should be poised for a good year in 2021-22.
Additional photos from the boys game at Booneville can be found on Facebook at Paris Eagles Sports. Fans from both schools can access and copy these photos. Photos from the entire season are found in game-by-game albums on the page and will be available until the summer.
Resident Press will be in Danville tonight to cover the Lady Tigers semifinal game with the Danville Lady Little Johns. Charleston defeated Booneville on Tuesday afternoon in the quarterfinals and will now play Danville in the semifinals. Tip-off time in Danville is set for 6 p.m.
Congratulations to Paris for a great year, and congratulations to the Booneville Lady Bearcats on a great year, as well. Both schools are set for great futures, and the Logan county rivalry should be in good shape for the next three years.
Resident Press will see you for Charleston basketball and for the transition to baseball and softball in both Paris and Charleston!