FORT SMITH( KFSM)-- The Lions and Lady Lions are both heading into the Heartland conference tournament as Number-two seeds..but they had very different journeys heading into the postseason.
"This is actually been the best year we’ve had in the divisional II area," said UAFS coach Josh Newman. "24 wins, undefeated at home, undefeated nonconference and ranked in the Nation every single week of the year."
For the Lady Lions the are playing their best basketball now.
"We started out pretty rocky," siad UAFS coach Elena Lovato. "I scheduled a hard preseason nonconference schedule, so it took probably longer than it should have. But, I think we are clicking right now at the right time."
The Lady Lions found their rhythm during the second half of their schedule, winning 12 of their last 15 games. Finishing as runner-up in the conference.
"We’ve had a lot of ups and downs this year," said UAFS senior Lundon Williams. "I feel like if you were to ask out entire team we were to say that we’re proud for finishing second."
For the second-straight year the Lions earned the share of the regular-season league title. They have their sights set on repeating as Heartland conference champions.
"Going into the tournament we know we are going to get everyone’s best shot ," said UAFS senior DaVaunta Thomas. "So we kind of have a chip on our shoulder because we are the number two seed and we didn’t like that at all. But we are planning to come out with a win."
Even their approaches to the postseason are different. The Lady Lions have tunnel vision when it comes to looking ahead.
"I mean obviously the goal is go as far as you can," said Williams. "But I think for this team specifically it’s very important for us to focus on one game at a time."
While the Lions are eager to make it further than they have before.
"That’s what you play for," said Thomas. That’s why you sweat in August and September for all the runs, to play in March you know not everyone gets to play in March, so playing in March and winning in March would feel great."
The Lady Lions will face St. Edward's in the first round of the tournament Thursday. The Lions will take on Oklahoma Christian on Thursday.