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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Parting really such sweet sorrow?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

If you've seen one on the hardwood the last couple of years, chances are, you've seen the other one close by.

Cave City and Valley Springs.

The two 3A-1 East foes have waged nine epic battles over the course of the past two seasons, with the latest installment in the series coming March 12 in the girls' Class 3A State Championship game at Summit Arena in Hot Springs.

More than just casual games, these contests between Cave City and Valley Springs have been emotionally charged, with the outcome more times than not hinging on a single possession.

Last year, both regular season meetings between the schools went into overtime.

This year, the Cavewomen won the first game 28-22 at Valley Springs, before the Lady Tigers won at Cave City (48-44), in the district tourney finals in Flippin (43-34) and in overtime, in the regional tournament championship game in Manila (44-40).

That folks, is the very definition of a rivalry.

But as epic as that rivalry has been, it is set to be shelved for a while.

Starting next year, the Cavewomen will be taking on a whole new set of adversaries at the 4A level, while the Lady Tigers will still call the 3A-1 East home.

Over the course of the past half-decade, the 3A-1 East has turned into one major powerhouse on the girls' state basketball scene.

First, Marshall won back-to-back titles in 2007-08, then Valley Springs finished as state runners-up last season, followed by the Lady Tigers' state championship win over Cave City this year.

And while there's naturally been some healthy tension built between the two schools, according to their head coaches, the squads certainly don't despise each other.

Matter of fact, they kind of like each other.

"You know, we've played them nine times in the last two years -- four times last year, five this year -- so we can say we know them well," said Cave City Head Coach Russell Fowler. "And they're well-coached -- really just a tremendous team. And we've gotten to know some of their fans over the years, so it'll be different next year."

Class 3A State Tournament MVP Arielle Saunders has mixed feelings about not getting a chance to mix it up with Cave City next year, during her senior season at Valley Springs.

"They've (Cave City) been a big competition for us. They've prepared us for what we see in the post-season," she said. "It's going to be kind of nice to know they're not going to be there to get us out of the overall conference championship, like this year. We'll miss them, but be glad they're gone, too."

According to Valley Springs Head Coach Kimberly Jenkins, lacing it up against conference foes like Cave City made all the difference in her team's run to the state championship this season.

"Everybody in our conference gave us a different look this year ... Cave City, Mountain View, Bergman," she said. "Our conference has so many good coaches and so many good players that challenge us. If it wasn't for our conference schedule, it would have been a different post-season for us. I mean, in our conference, you have to show up every game. So we'll definitely miss Cave City for that reason, but we'll also be glad they're gone."

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