If there is such a thing as a team of destiny, it sure looked for awhile that the Calico Rock Lady Pirates fit that description.
Coming into the 2AA-North District Tournament, an event held on their home court at Harold Ray Jeffery Gymnasium, the Lady Pirates were tagged with the tourney's number five seed.
Despite this middle-of-the-road seeding, Calico Rock had been playing inspired basketball as of late, evidenced by their championship in the Izard County Tournament last month.
In was in the county tournament that the Lady Pirates had managed to knock off the powerful Izard County Consolidated Lady Cougars, a feat few teams have been able to pull off this season.
Fast forward a couple of weeks to the district tournament, and Calico Rock was at it again.
After getting past fourth-seeded Salem in the opening round, the Lady Pirates were able to catch lightning in a bottle once more, sending the number one seed from ICC home with a stunning 58-52 loss Feb. 16 after the Lady Cougars had run untouched through the 2AA-North's regular season.
Calico Rock was able to withstand a 37-point barrage from ICC's Brittney Richardson to emerge with a six-point win in the district tourney semi-final round.
However, the Lady Pirates' ship began to take on water the next afternoon in the tournament finals.
Matched up with the third-seeded Sloan-Hendrix Lady Greyhounds, Calico Rock fell behind early and trailed for the duration of the game, suffering a 38-29 loss to the Lady Greyhounds.
As they attempted to battle back from a nine-point deficit at the half, 23-14, the Lady Pirates were forced to do so without one of their big guns, Ashton Lester. Saddled with foul problems during the first half of play, Lester, who had paced Calico Rock with 21 points against ICC, fouled out at the 4:01 mark of the third, leaving the Lady Pirates with depleted scoring ranks.
The Lady Greyhounds, however, were fully-stocked with an assortment of weapons, including senior guard Tessa Blansett.
Blansett had a big outing in the finals, tossing in 12 points, grabbing 11 rebounds and handing out seven dimes, leaving her just three assists away from a triple-double.
Sloan-Hendrix used a strong showing on the glass to take control of the game in the first period.
The Lady Pirates did get the basketball into some favorable situations on the low block in the first, but just couldn't get the ball into the bucket.
On the other hand, the Lady Greyhounds cashed in when they got close to the rack.
Calico Rock's Kimberly Sutterfield tied the game at 2-all with a hoop at the 5:35 point of the first before Sloan-Hendrix jumped on top to stay. Sutterfield paced the Lady Pirates with 12 points on the afternoon.
The Lady Greyhounds ripped off nine straight points to pull in front 11-2 with 2:54 left in the first.
Tosha McGowen (four points) halted Sloan-Hendrix' run with a short jumper, but Calico Rock posted just two field goals in the first eight minutes of play and was behind the 8-ball, 13-4, after the first period.
The Lady Pirates tried to keep pace in the second period, and a huge 3-ball from Courtney Cook (seven points) at the 3:33 point pulled Calico Rock within five, 16-11.
Next time down court, Lady Greyhound Jennifer Hackworth bombed in an equally big triple that pushed Sloan-Hendrix back in front 19-11.
Sutterfield did go coast-to-coast for a buzzer-beating layup to end the first half, but Calico Rock trailed 23-14 at intermission.
Then came the third period.
In addition to losing Lester to foul disqualification in the frame, the Lady Pirates logged just five points in the third. A jumper by Sutterfield and old-fashioned 3-point play from Whitney Herron (four points) was Calico Rock's sole offensive output of the third.
The good news to this was the fact that Sloan-Hendrix posted just five points in the third as well.
The bad news was Calico Rock still trailed 28-19 at the end of the period.
The Lady Pirates did make one last push at Sloan-Hendrix in the fourth.
Back-to-back hoops from Calico Rock pulled the Lady Pirates within five, the closest to the lead they had been since midway into the second.
Just as she did when Calico Rock pulled close in the second, Hackworth drilled another big trey midway into the fourth that helped extend Sloan-Hendrix' lead back to 10, 33-23.
Sutterfield sank the Lady Pirates' last hoop of the night, a jumper with 2:17 left, but Calico Rock just couldn't get a big enough push late to knock off Sloan-Hendrix, as the Lady Greyhounds ended the night with a nine-point victory for the tourney title.