12 NEA girls basketball teams in action at Harding Team Camp

12 NEA teams competed over 3 days in the Harding Team Camp
12 NEA teams competed over 3 days in the Harding Team Camp(Source: KAIT)
Published: Jun. 14, 2022 at 8:18 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 15, 2022 at 6:52 PM CDT
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SEARCY, Ark. (KAIT) - It’s ridiculously hot outside so a cool gym is the place to be.

Tuesday marked the final day of the Harding Team Camp. 38 high school girls basketball squads were in action, 12 hail from Region 8.

Paragould is fresh off a run to the 5A State Quarterfinals. Most of that squad is back. Head coach Sonja Tate wants her Lady Rams to build this summer.

“Well, we’re playing pretty well this summer,” Tate said. “We’re really getting after it defensively, executing our offense. Really just trying to get to know each other. I got a pretty good group of returning starters coming back. Also have a good amount of newcomers coming in. The mixture is really good. So the older ones, I call them big sister, little sister type deal. We’re executing and working really well.”

The Harding Team Camp also features familiar faces in new places. Jason Smith led Nettleton to the 2020 state title and guided countless players to college hoops. He’s staying in the 5A East but trading black for green. Smith is now leading Greene County Tech.

“I’m going to leave part of my heart there at Nettleton,” Smith said. “When you’re at a place for so long and a place that’s been so good to you. So many great people and memories. But I’m excited about this next chapter. Coachability number 1, effort number 2, and then all eyes on me. They’re hinging on every word. Now of course some of that is trying to impress the new guy, but just love, love how much they want to please and improve.”

The Lady Raiders filled their vacancy with a fellow NEA veteran. Tim Hawkins had success at Valley View and engineered a turnaround at Wynne. He was hired as the new Nettleton head girls basketball coach.

“Well, I’m excited,” Hawkins said. “Raiders have got the tradition, I’m excited about being here. Right now, getting to know the kids. We’ve had 3 days of practice and then we come down to camp. We’re playing hard, we’re playing great defense, that’s sort of been a trademark of my groups, also their group in previous years. And so we want to carry on that. We want to be the most physical team on the floor. And we’re doing a pretty good job of that so far.”

Mitchell Weber bleeds big blue. He played at Rector and guided the Lady Cougars to the 2022 2A State Quarterfinals. Weber is now wearing red, he was hired as the new Brookland girls basketball coach.

“Really really just talented. And it’s all just raw. So they do some stuff that is just unteachable I guess you would say,” Weber added. “As far as standards go the rest of the summer: Just coming in and changing the culture a little bit, and working hard, being physical and being tough mentally and physically. You know wins and losses will take care of itself. But we’re just building to get ready by November and hopefully can make a run in the 4A-3. And see where it goes from there.”

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