Region 8 Teams Heading to State Championship Finals

March 9, 2006 -- Posted at 4:45 p.m CST


CRAIGHEAD COUNTY, AR -- High school basketball teams in three Region 8 communities will be playing for state championships this weekend. 

And they're all connected by U.S. Highway 18. 

The teams areJonesboro, Buffalo Island Central, and Blytheville.


The last time JHS made the finals of the state tournament was 1994, BIC won the title in 2005, and Blytheville last claimed the title in 1989.


The history of basketball at all three schools is very strong. 


Jonesboro basketball goes back a long time.  To be at the state tournament, win a few games, now be ready to play for the championship… the kids, the fans, and the families; everybody’s really excited,” said Matt Garner.


Jonesboro fans aren’t the only one’s that are excited about this opportunity.


Blytheville, traditionally, has had a very good basketball program here.  They’ve won a couple of state championships in the past, so they’re accustomed to winning,” said John Singleton.


For Buffalo Island Central, this is their chance to defend the state title they won last year.


“The Mustangs are excited to be headed back to Alltel Arena this Saturday.  We are looking for a repeat championship this year,” said Dr. Kima Stewart of BIC.


For the players, having the support of the community is the driving factor.


“I think the community knew that we still had something special with our team.  Some people may think that we would not have made it this far, but our community is all ready,” said Marline Whitlow, a parent at BIC.


“Our community is proud of the kids.  They’re good kids.  We’re proud of them academically, and we’re proud of them athletically,” said Stewart.


For many of these seniors this is their last chance to make their mark on their high schools, winning this tournament would be the biggest thing for their high school careers.


“All five of our starters on the team are seniors.  I think that makes them more ready, knowing that it is their last shot,” said Stewart.


“This is the paramount, the peak.  It’s the best you can get to, and these kids have just hoped to play in a game like this one,” said Garner.


Community members say the players deserve all the support they are getting.


“These guys are obviously good at basketball, but more than that, they’re very good kids,” said Singleton.


Blytheville will play Magnolia Friday night at 5:15 p.m.


Jonesboro plays Little Rock Parkview Saturday morning at 11:30 a.m.


Buffalo Island Central will play Altheimer Saturday afternoon at 3:00 p.m.


All of the games will take place at Alltel Arena in Little Rock.