Thursday nights OT loss to the Deer Antlers (29-10) ends the Pirates 1A State tournament play (72-66) and brings to a close their thrilling season with a final record of 29-10. The Calico Rock Pirates were ranked 7th in the state in class 1A going into the State tournament, but their highest ranking, earlier in the season, was the #1 spot as assigned by the Associated Press poll. It has been a season that has earned its place in Pirate fans’ hearts and minds; Their season may have ended with a loss, but the Pirates can still hold their heads up high, because they went out with a bang.
The Pirates got off to a pretty slow start, only scoring six points in the first period, and by half-time they had added another ten. On the other hand, Deer had sprinted ahead with an 18 point lead by half-time, going into the locker room with a score of 34 to our 16 .
As Deer was draining treys, Calico Rock was 0 for 12 in this department at the mid-way mark of the game. This drought for the Pirates didn’t change too much during the third quarter as Deer out scored them 17-12 and extended their lead, going into the forth quarter, 51-28 (a 23 point deficit).
The fourth quarter not only started a new chapter for the Pirates, they flipped the script entirely. After a big three point shot by Joe Grigg to get this rally started, the Pirates caught fire on the court. The Pirate’s student section EXPLODED. They never sat down nor ceased their firey cheers for the rest of the game. Powered by heart and shear determination, the squad from Calico Rock exhibited one of the greatest comebacks in Pirate history as they scored 35 points in the last period to tie the game at 63 all. Treys were not a problem for the Pirates in this last ballad, as they sank all but one of the six they shot.
With an additional four minutes put on the clock, the two teams met back at center court for the over time period. Calico Rock was short one starter as Clayton Smyser had fouled out during the fourth quarter. Early in the four minutes, #15 Connor Sanders fouled out as well and joined Clayton on the bench to watch the end of the game unfold.
Cole Whiteaker, #2, scored the only bucket for the Pirates with a three pointer, but it wasn’t enough for the win. The Antlers tallied nine points in the OT period and moved up in the bracket to play Nevada in the next round with this 72-66 victory.
Nevada went on to win this side of the bracket and will be going up against the ICC Cougars in the Finals in Hot Springs on Friday, March 8 at 7:45 at the Bank OZK Arena inside the Hot Springs Convention Center. All games will be broadcast on the AETN network. 1A State finals girls match will be the Rural Special Lady Rebels against the Wonderview Lady Daredevils at 3:30 on Saturday, March 9.
Cole Whiteaker #2 paced the Pirates with 25 points followed by Logan Dickerson #3 with 15. Connor Sanders #15 tossed in 12 and Clayton Smyser #22 contributed 8 points. Cade Whiteaker #11 and Joe Grigg #4 scored 3 points each and Freshman, Stratt Sanders #23 had a field goal for 2.
Pirates, your friends, family, and fans will never forget this amazing season, and the mad dash you made at the end.