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Class 2A Arkansas high school girls basketball preview

Eight teams to watch in Class 2A Arkansas prep girls basketball

With the start of a new season, SBLive is previewing Arkansas high school basketball. Today, we feature eight teams to watch from the girls ranks of Class 2A. Over the coming weeks there will be features for each classification as well as player position lists. 

Head over to the website for complete coverage and standings throughout the season. You can also listen to our weekly podcast, Arkansas Prep X-Tra, for even more in-depth coverage.

ACORN TIGERS 

Head Coach: Mike Jackson 

Conference: 2A-7

2022-23 Finish: 26-7, 2A state first round 

Notable Departures

Paige Parnell 

Players To Watch

G Daisy Dollar 5-6 SR | all-conference, all-state, all-state tournament

P Chanity Hall 6-0 JR 

P Harlei McCourtney 5-11 SR 

G Sophie Strasner 5-8 SR

G Kenzie Daniels 5-4 SR 

G Kaitlynn Ledbetter 5-4 SO

G Tori Squires 5-4 SO

F Rebecca Moore 5-6 JR

G Jordan Wagner 5-5 JR

Outlook 

A tough finish to last season in which the Lady Tigers dropped their final three games has this group that returns four out of five starters hungry to prove themselves. Dollar (11 PPG, 4 APG) leads an impressive senior group along with fellow guards Strasner (8 PPG, 3 APG, 2.6 SPG) and Daniels (7 PPG, 2.6 APG), along with McCourtney (10 PPG, 8 RPG, 1 BPG) in the paint, where Hall (10 PPG, 6 RPG) also provides length. Jackson added that he expects Ledbetter, Squires, Moore and Wagner's minutes to increase. 

Coach Said

"We were district Champions last year and look to make a run at again. My girls have been working hard and have improved in many areas. We hope for a good year."

- Mike Jackson 

Conway Christian guard Brooklyn Pratt (Photo by Tommy Land)

Conway Christian guard Brooklyn Pratt (Photo by Tommy Land)

CONWAY CHRISTIAN EAGLES

Head Coach: Trey Lynch

Conference: 2A-5

2022-23 Finish: 32-6, 2A state runner-up

Notable Departures

Josie Williams | Harding University signee, all-conference, all-state, all-state tournament 

Mallory Malone | Central Baptist College signee, all-conference

Kara Keathley | all-conference 

Players To Watch

G Brooklyn Pratt 5-4 JR | all-conference, all-state tournament 

G Conley Gibson 5-8 JR | all-conference

G Kate Scroggins 5-4 SR

F Makayla Walker 5-9 JR

G Ashlyn Kinley 5-4 SR 

Outlook

The Lady Eagles may experience some early season frustrations after graduating three who helped lead them to the state finals last season, but patience is a virtue. The good news is that Gibson (10.1 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 1.7 APG) and Pratt (7.8 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 3.4 APG, 3.4 SPG) return in the back court, providing two years of experience. Alongside them in the starting rotation is Scroggins, who played in all but one game last year, Walker (played 19 games in 2022-23) and Kinley, who did not play last season, but averaged 8.1 points per contest in 2021-22. 

Coach Said

"We hope to carry forward momentum from a great season last year. The class of 2023 seniors made a huge impact on the program, and they will obviously be missed, but we had a really encouraging summer, and the kids are playing with a lot of confidence. In Brooklyn and Conley, we have two really experienced guards that know how to win. The league and central region will continue to be extremely tough, but we intend to be battle tested and in the mix come February."

 - Trey Lynch 

ENGLAND LIONS 

Head Coach: David Mackey 

Conference: 2A-5

2022-23 Finish: 24-12, 2A state first round 

Notable Departures

Ariel Penister | all-conference 

Players To Watch

G Taniyah Carter 5-4 SR | all-conference 

G Jordan Blake 5-10 JR | all-conference, all-state, all-state tournament

F Allison Mackey 5-5 SR | all-conference 

G Jayla Arnold 5-4 SR | all-conference 

G Madison Bryant 5-3 JR 

Outlook

With youth comes learning lessons and the Lady Lions return as one of the more experienced teams in Class 2A after running into a red hot Mansfield squad in the first round of last year's state tournament. The back court of Carter (14.5 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 2.7 SPG, 3.5 APG) and Blake (15.9 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 3.1 SPG, 3.2 APG) headline the starting five, with Allison Mackey providing senior leadership and solid defense in the paint, while Arnold is known for her defense guarding the perimeter. Coach Mackey also praised Bryant for her production as a role player last season and mentioned that he is pleased with the overall depth of his bench. 

Coach Said

"We look forward to having a great year and making a good run in the state tournament. We return four of our five starters from last season and had great summer. I believe our leadership and experience will be very valuable for us to male a deep run this season. I am excited about this group and look forward to a great year."

- David Mackey 

MANSFIELD TIGERS 

Head Coach: Ethan Bowman

Conference: 2A-4

2022-23 Finish: 29-5, 2A state semifinalist 

Notable Departures

Natalie Allison | all-state tournament 

Seven Sanderson | all-conference 

Players To Watch

G Kynslee Ward 5-8 SR | all-conference, all-state 

F Kaylee Ward 6-3 SO | all-conference, all-state 

F Alyson Edwards 5-11 SR | all-conference, all-state

G Harlie Fuller 5-5 SR | all-conference 

Outlook

A very experienced senior class that has a lot of experience playing together, including last season's semifinal finish, returns with hopes of taking that next step and getting to Hot Springs before they sign out. Edwards (10.8 PPG, 7.1 RPG), Kynslee Ward (11.6 PPG) and phenom Kaylee Ward (11.4, 10.3 RPG) - who owns offers from Arkansas, Central Arkansas, Colorado, Mississippi State and Tulsa - were the Lady Tigers' top scorers, while Fuller is another quality performer in the back court. 

Coach Said

"We return a lot of experience from last years team that had great success. We will also have some new faces in the rotation that will have to do a good job of playing their role in order for us to continue to be successful. This team has the potential to build on to the success we have had the past two years and continue to compete for championships. The majority of our girls are multi-sport athletes and they have made a commitment this preseason to put in extra time in the gym to be prepared for this upcoming season."

- Ethan Bowman 

MARMADUKE GREYHOUNDS

Head Coach: Rick Smith 

Conference: 2A-3

2022-23 Finish: 26-14

Notable Departures

Maranda Bear | all-conference

Chancey Henry 

Shelby Hensley

Players To Watch

P Baylie Joiner 5-10 SR

G Justis Joiner 5-5 SR

G Makenzie Hampton 5-4 SR

F/P Lexi Gipson 5-10 JR

G Maddie Taylor 5-7 SR

G Jaci Pratt 5-8 SR

G Loren Michael 5-5 SR

G Kimber Green 5-4 JR

G Ava Anthony 5-2 JR

G Cali Burnett 5-5 SO

Outlook

Head coach Rick Smith has won a lot of games (432) in his time at Marmaduke and enters year 14 with a roster that lacks some in size, but he feels the talent is there to make another deep run. Smith mentioned the trio of Hampton, along with twins Baylie and Justis Joiner, are three of the better pure athletes the program has had, and will be heavily relied upon as a trio out of seven total seniors on the team. Smith expects to go ten deep into his bench, with newcomer Burnett expected to earn a spot in the starting lineup following a great summer. 

Coach Said

"I think we are going to have to run up and down the floor a little more than we have, as well as play more defense. Our conference this year will probably be as good as it has been in a while."

- Rick Smith

Mount Vernon-Enola post Dessie McCarty (Photo by Tommy Land)

Mount Vernon-Enola post Dessie McCarty (Photo by Tommy Land)

MOUNT VERNON-ENOLA WARHAWKS

Head Coach: Adam Carlton 

Conference: 2A-2

2022-23 Finish: 38-5, 2A state champions

Notable Departures

None. 

Players To Watch

P Dessie McCarty 6-0 SR | Arkansas Tech commit, all-conference, all-state, 2A state tournament Most Valuable Player

G Marlee Raby 5-6 SR | all-conference, all-state, all-state tournament

G AJ Person 5-7 SR | all-conference, all-state tournament 

F Olivia McClelland 5-9 SR

G Coree Kyle 5-5 JR 

G Alyssa Gilbert 5-7 JR 

G Jaley Belote 5-7 SR 

G Jordan Rodgers 5-9 JR

F Ashleigh Sprague 5-8 SR 

Outlook

The defending 2A state champions will look exactly the same in 2023-24, the only difference is they have had an entire offseason to get even better. The trio of McCarty (17 PPG, 12 RPG), Person and Raby led the Lady Warhawks to their first state title in program history after moving up in classification, as McCarty was selected as the tournament's MVP following a dominant finals performance. The talent does not stop with those three as the top eight players return, while MVE also welcomes back Sprague who sat out last season. 

Coach Said

"We look to try to repeat what we did last year in winning the state championship. Have a lot of seniors that want to go out on top one more time. We have focused on getting better in practice."

- Adam Carlton 

RIVERSIDE REBELS 

Head Coach: Tyler Timms 

Conference: 2A-3

2022-23 Finish: 31-9, 2A state quarterfinalist 

Notable Departures

Mackenzie Thomas | all-conference, NEA Tournament

Players To Watch

P Amber Courtney 5-10 SR | all-conference, all-state tournament 

G Gracie Washington 5-6 SR | all-conference, 2022-23 2A-3 Player of the Year

G/F Ali Towles 5-8 SR | all-conference 

F Klaire Womack 5-6 JR

G Brooklyn Berry 5-5 JR

F Annalee Qualls 5-9 JR

G Ryley Eakins 5-7 SO

G Carly Jo Womack 5-5 SO

F Briley Travis 5-9 SO

Outlook

The Lady Rebels' season ended with a heartbreaking loss to eventual 2A champion Mount Vernon-Enola in what was certainly one of the most competitive contests of the 2022-23 season. They did graduate an important piece in Thomas, but everyone else is back led by seniors Courtney (9 PPG, 7.5 RPG), Washington (9 PPG, 4 APG) and Towles (12.1 PPG, 6 RPG). However, there is also a plethora of underclassmen talent behind them including softball standout Klaire Womack (6 PPG, 4 RPG), who Timms calls one of the best on-ball defenders in Class 2A, along with classmates Berry (38% 3FG) and Qualls, plus the sophomore trio of Eakins, Carly Jo Womack and Travis. 

Coach Said

"We came up short last year against Mount Vernon-Enola in a classic game, but the key was we were playing our best basketball at the right time. We held opponents to 35 points per game, so our defense was key. I think we will score the ball a little easier this year and pressure the ball a little more than we did last year. There is a constant battle in practice for minutes, and competition on our team is fierce. Our conference is probably the deepest conference in 2A and we will take it one step at a time and try to focus on the daily growth. While we have high expectations, we don't want to get ahead of ourselves and read our press clippings so to speak."

- Tyler Timms 

YELLVILLE-SUMMIT PANTHERS

Head Coach: Charlie Melton 

Conference: 2A-1

2022-23 Finish: 20-6, 2A state first round 

Notable Departures

Kambree Gibson | Missouri State track & field signee, all-conference, all-state

Players To Watch

G Abby Methvin 5-5 SR | all-conference, all-state, all-state tournament 

P KJ Moore 5-10 SR 

F Sierra Burrow 5-5 JR 

G Hannah Hayward 5-5 JR

F Rorie Cobb 5-7 JR 

G Kamryn Mason 5-1 SO 

G Cady Gibson 5-2 SO 

G Riley Hopson 5-4 SO 

Outlook

Following a first round state tournament loss to eventual 2A champion Mount Vernon-Enola, this year's experienced Lady Panther squad is ready to make some noise. Losing leading scorer Kambree Gibson is a big hit, but her former back court partner in crime Methvin (18 PPG, 3 RPG, 3 APG) is back, along with returning starters Moore (4 PPG, 4 RPG) and Burrow (5 PPG, 5 RPG), while Cobb, Mason, Cade Gibson and Hopson should see their roles increase.

Coach Said

"We are the defending conference and district champs, but are going to have to step up our game to defend. We have players that are very capable of doing what it takes to be successful, they just have to adapt to a new system and get comfortable in their roles. I expect to see us vying for the top of the conference with Ozark Mountain and Cotter. These girls are working hard and showing me they have what it takes. Our shots are coming along and our defensive awareness and intensity are getting better every day."

- Charlie Melton 

OTHERS TO WATCH: Buffalo Island Central, Earle, Marshall

--Kyle Sutherland | @k_sutherlandAR