Patience Pays Off In Year Three For Lady Blackhawks

PEA RIDGE (KFSM)--The last two years, Pea Ridge basketball has made the 4A boys state finals and quarterfinals. But as we enter 2019, the focus is on the girls squad.

"Past few years it has always been about the boys, and it feels good to get some recognition for what we've been doing this year," senior Hollyn Davis said.

"It's definitely good, it's been really fun. We're kind of talking trash," laughed fellow senior Maria Socha.

The Lady Blackhawks are 16-3, the best start in school history.

"This year is Coach Neal's third year, and I think we started as sophomores and now we've kind of gone through the cycle," added Socha.

"It's finally gotten to the point where we go into those things looking to win, where maybe our first year it was 'can we win'. Instead of 'we can win'," coach Heath Neal said.

Neal began the turnaround three years ago, switching from boys assistant to girls head coach.

"Our sophomore year our big word of the year was 'breakthrough'," Socha recalled. "And I think our senior year we finally hit that and that's like really really exciting for us."

<The thing is we had a glass ceiling over our head and we've cracked it but never actually broke through it," explained Neal. "And so this is kind of like that year three of our maturation and we're finally starting to crack it even more, and hopefully by the end of the year we'll bust through that."

Pea Ridge reached its pinnacle of Neal's tenure over the holidays, winning the Airedale Classic in Alma.

"It's been a lot of fun, the chemistry on our team is very good," Davis summed up.

The goal of a deep postseason run begins with a tough slate of games in the newly structured 4A-1 conference.