BENTONVILLE (KFSM) - The walls of the gym at Bentonville High School scream success for Tiger Athletics. Among the gold banners list accolades across every sport in the school. But there's one banner that doesn't exist. At least not yet.
Girls basketball state champion.
"We want it," sophomore post Maryam Dauda emphasized. "That's what's gotten us to this place."
"If we - well - when we win this game, it's going to be amazing because it's going to be a part of school history and we're gonna have a banner up to show that," she added with confidence.
This will only be the Tigers' third trip to the title game, the last time coming in 2003. But this Bentonville team is different than those of the past.
"It's a big deal to us because we've been working so hard all year," junior guard Emily Sanders explained. "Just playing for each other and playing together."
"Each kid is truly, truly rooting for the other one," head coach Tom Halbmaier added. "We don't care who scores the most, who makes the assists, they just want to get the job done and get the victory.">=
The last and only time Bentonville beat Northside under Tom Halbmaier was 16 years ago. The Lady Bears have ended Bentonville's postseason run three times in the last five seasons.
Regardless, the Tigers are throwing that record out the window and erasing all doubts entering Friday's game.
"We have something to prove," senior guard Avery Hughes mentioned. "We lost to Northside at the beginning of the year. But we have just as good of a chance. It's going to be a battle, but I believe in my team."
"We're not intimidated, but we're just going to do the best that we can and go down there and bring back that trophy," Coach Halbmaier added.
Call them the underdogs. Say it's a long shot. Tell them they're the dark horse.
Bentonville isn't listening.
They're confident this scrappy squad will be the ones to create new waves.
"I know that whenever I come back here after I graduate high school, I will always remember being the first team to ever win the state championship," Dauda smiled.
"We're ready to play. We're ready to go," Sanders concluded. "We know we can do whatever we put our minds to."
Bentonville will compete for the state title Friday against Northside. Tipoff against Northside will be at 2:15 in Hot Springs.