Southside girls coach Steve Brown knows what's at stake today. He believes his team does as well.
Southside and Mount St. Mary, both tied with matching 3-8 conference records, battle today at Southside Gym. It's senior day for Brown's four seniors.
"We can try and motivate all we want to, but these girls are smart — they know what's at stake," Brown said. "We don't hold anything back from the girls. We told them we had to win two of our last four games, and these two this week (Bryant and Mount St. Mary) are the most obvious."
After finishing without a win last season, the Mavericks have made huge strides in 2017 — while playing in a much tougher conference.
"I'm not slamming last year's conference (7A-West), but we're in a much harder conference this year," Brown said. "To go from eight players to make state would be quite a jump. We just want to move in the right direction."
Mount St. Mary beat Southside 46-30 last month.
"I think our guards were 2-of-15 (shooting)," Brown said. "We couldn't throw it in the ocean ... it was just one of those nights."
Southside began this week by beating Bryant, 27-20. It wasn't the team's best game.
But it put them in position to play for a playoff berth.
"These girls have done all we've asked of them," Brown said.
On the boys side, the Southside Mavericks suffered a 61-31 loss to Bryant on Tuesday night, dropping their conference mark to 1-10. Zion Releford led the Mavs with a team-high 10 points. Ike Moore finished with four.
Southside trailed 13-8 after one quarter and 27-13 at the half. The Mavericks managed just seven third-quarter points.
Today, Southside will host Little Rock Catholic in their 2016-17 home finale. Southside travels to Little Rock on Tuesday to play Central, and the Mavs will be the home team a week from today when they finish the regular season against Northside at the Stubblefield Center (UAFS).
Today will be a pivotal one for both Northside basketball squads.
The Grizzlies and Lady Bears travel to North Little Rock to take on the 7A-Central leader in both the boys and girls divisions.
For the Grizzlies, it begins a pivotal two-game stretch which will determine their chances to win the conference as well as their seeding for the upcoming 7A State Tournament.
Northside (18-6, 9-2) is currently in second place in the conference, a game back of NLR (20-5, 10-1) for the lead. The Grizzlies leapfrogged past Cabot on Tuesday after Northside's home win against Conway and Cabot's loss to Little Rock Central.
In the previous game between the two teams, NLR won at Kaundart-Grizzly Fieldhouse, 69-66, last month. NLR is also ranked No. 5 overall in the latest FearlessFriday.com poll, while the Grizzlies are ranked No. 8.
This Tuesday, Northside returns home for its senior night as the Grizzlies take on Cabot. NLR will play at Cabot one week from today.
The Lady Bears will attempt to sweep the home-and-home series against NLR today. On Jan. 20 at Northside, the Lady Bears knocked off the then No. 1 ranked Lady Charging Wildcats, 55-52. NLR reclaimed the No. 1 overall ranking in this week's FearlessFriday.com poll.
It remains the lone 7A-Central loss on the season for NLR (23-2, 10-1), which remains alone atop the conference with Little Rock Central a game back. Northside (15-9, 8-3), which has currently won seven of its past eight games starting with that win against NLR, is in third place a game back of Central, which has already swept the Lady Bears.
Times Record sportswriter Buck Ringgold also contributed to this report.