The Blytheville Chickasaws head to Forrest City Friday night to take on the first place Mustangs.
The Chicks (4-14, 1-4 5A-East) are coming off a huge home loss to rival Greene County Tech Tuesday night while the Mustangs, winners of five in a row, made quick work of Batesville Tuesday night in a 68-28 win over the Pioneers.
Forrest City (11-6, 5-0 5A-East) was the early preseason favorite to win the conference and they haven't disappointed. With talented junior 6-foot-8 inch big man, Trey Thompson, the Mustangs have the muscle and the athleticism to outlast most opponents.
"What Thompson is really good at is starting the (fast) break," said Chickasaw head coach Jeff Flanigan. "He gets that outlet pass out so quickly and they're guards are so quick getting up the floor, they can score on you in a hurry."
Flanigan said it's extremely important that his guards get back quickly on defense both on shots made and missed.
"We have to limit their (Forrest City) opportunities," he said. "We have to limit them to one shot, not to get second chance shots. We've been doing a great job of that all year. The problem always seems to be the timing. If we need 21 rebounds, we'll get 20 and that one we don't get seems to always be extremely important. It's finding that crucial one at the crucial moment."
With four losses in the conference, three at home, Flanigan and his squad are aware of what needs to be done if they want to make the 5A state playoffs.
"We know there isn't much time left," he said. "But the window is still open. It might not be open wide enough to jump out anymore but it's still open enough to squeeze ourselves out of."
Flanigan said he's players are still confident and upbeat and after seeing Paragould take the Mustangs to overtime, he said his players know that Friday night's game isn't impossible.
"We only lost to Paragould be a few points. They (Paragould) took Forrest City to overtime and Paragould was missing a few players. We're going to go out and play hard. The kids were as baffled after Tuesday night's loss as the coaching staff was. They know they're right there."
On the injury front, the Chicks will be without Demarques Evans and Michael Williams. Evans has a back injury and Williams has the flu, something Flanigan's team has battled with all year.
"We're banged up but no one is backing down. This kids are ready. We had a great walk through yesterday and we'll be ready to go."
Friday night's action begins at 5 p.m. with the boys "B" game, followed by girls varsity and concluding with the boys varsity.