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Arkansas' best high school girls basketball players: Meet the state's top small forwards

Some of the state's best girls basketball small forwards

By Kyle Sutherland I Photo by Jaison Sterling

With the high school basketball season wrapping up, SBLive is looking at the best girls players in Arkansas. Today, we feature the top small forwards for all classes. This is not meant to be a comprehensive list as there are hundreds of great basketball players in the state.

Important note on position: In today’s position-less era of basketball, it is very rare that teams list one starter at all five positions, and many players are fully interchangeable across positions. For example, depending on game or matchup situations, an athlete might play the 1 or 2 guard spots, possibly a guard/forward role as a wing, or some have the talent to play all of the 1-5 positions. Please use the comments section to discuss other standout players in Arkansas that you want to nominate. 

Soon, you will have a chance to vote on who you think is the top girls small forward in the state.

Anslee Ballew | Star City | 5-8 | SO

Ballew has been a solid young leader for the Lady Bulldogs this year with great shooting, particularly from long range. She was voted State Farm Player of the Week in mid-February for stellar play on defense logging four steals along with multiple connections from long-range. She heads a solid sophomore class for Star City that will help this team be a force the next couple of years.

Abby Beene | Bauxite | 5-8 | JR

Beene began to really come on last season as a sophomore and continued that progression into this year with an early season double-double against White Hall. She also had 25 in a Feb. 1 game against De Queen and led the Lady Miners to a 4A-7 runner-up finish, falling behind only to a very powerful Nashville squad.

Keely Blanchard | Norfork | 5-10 | SO

Blanchard has done everything from hitting buzzer-beaters her freshman year, to hitting clutch shots, and has now helped Norfork reach the state title game. She is able to use her versatility and height to play multiple positions either in the paint on the perimeter as a point or shooting guard.

Ja’Miya Brown | North Little Rock | 5-11 | JR

Brown boasts a 3.7 GPA and along with getting her work done in the classroom, she has also helped the Lady Charging Wildcats reach the state title game. She already has the frame of a big-time college player and also has great athleticism that she utilizes effectively but can also get lost out sight at times due to the great depth on the NLR roster.

Riley Bryant | CAC | 5-11 | JR

Bryant almost doubled her scoring total from last season which has caught the attention of college coaches earning her an offer from Arkansas-Monticello. She eclipsed 20 points in multiple games this year, including 28 against Sheridan.

“Riley worked really hard over the summer and fall and has improved so much from a year ago,” CAC Coach Steve Quattlebaum said. “She has gone from scoring around 10 points a game last year to 18 this season.”

Ashlyn Caudle | Fouke | 5-7 | SR

Caudle was extremely effective for the Lady Panthers throughout her career and can shoot the long ball with the best of them. Just picking a game out, back in early December she had 17 points against Garrett Memorial Christian -15 of those from 3-points range. Fouke’s season came to an end in the state tournament at the hands of Mayflower.

Calle Citty | Harding Academy | 5-11 | JR

Citty helped the Lady Wildcats’ soccer and track teams win state titles last season. She averaged just shy of a double-double this year (16 points and 9.3 rebounds per game) and recently eclipsed 1,000 points for her career.

“Calle has grown in every possible way over the last couple of years,” Lady Wildcats head coach Rusty Garner said. “Her skill has progressed equally as has her leadership. She has a tremendous basketball IQ and has made herself a very difficult matchup.”

Wesleigh Ferguson | Benton | 5-11 | SO

Ferguson has contributed to the Lady Panthers’ varsity squad since last season and plays both guard and forward spots depending on the game situation. She filled up the stat sheet this season averaging 13 points, 5.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 2 steals shooting 48.4% from the field. Ferguson currently has offers including Arkansas State and Harding among others.

“Wesleigh’s skill set is incredibly high,” Benton head coach Jerry Chumley said. “Playing up during her freshman year helped her gain valuable experience.”

Megan Hernandez | Farmington | 5-9 | SR

Dillard, Lawrence, and Shirey are names that come to mind when Farmington girls basketball is discussed, but Hernandez has been just as important of the a piece to the team’s success.

In a blurb from the Lady Cardinals’ Twitter account she was described as “a relentless worker, high motor player whose energy is infectious.”

“She is relentless in transition and on the glass and can beat you off the bounce,” Lady Cardinals coach Brad Johnson said. She can hit from the perimeter and typically guards the other team's best player along with playing in the front of our pressure looks.”

Belle Lindsey | De Queen | 5-8 | JR

A 4.0 student, Lindsey is just now scratching the surface of her high school athletic career as a multi-sport athlete. She is one of many on this list that can play as the shooting guard or small forward positions depending on the scenario, but she helped the Lady Leopards to a respectable season playing in the very tough 4A-7 conference and is one to watch for her senior year next season.

Brynlee Huggins | Pangburn | SR

Huggins completed her high school career this season and is on her way to Henderson State, where she originally committed to in June. She began this year with a bang in an early season game against Searcy scoring 40 points and was also named our SBLive Arkansas Athlete of the Week for February 1-7th after scoring 22 points and dishing out nine assistants, along with four blocks, in a win over Bald Knob.

Silver Mulliniks | Quitman | 5-9 | JR

Mulliniks does just about everything from the Lady Bulldogs from Cross Country, to Softball, pretty much anything the Quitman basketball team needs, and she does it at a high level. Her defensive game is also fun to watch as she can pick your pocket any time you are not looking.

Kierra Neal | Marion | 6-0 | JR

Neal has attracted the attention of college coaches and has continued to improve from some of her areas of opportunity from last season per Marion head coach Shunda Johnson. She is averaging 10.2 points and 5.4 rebounds per game to go along with 1.8 steals defensively.

Felicity Pate | Kirby | 5-7 | SR

Kirby’s season came to an end in the state semifinals and Pate was a key contributor to the Lady Trojans’ success averaging 12 points and six rebounds per game during her senior season.

“Felicity is capable of putting up big numbers on both ends of the court,” Kirby head coach Robert Tucker said. “Can shoot it and can slash to the basket. Our top defender also, she gets the other team’s best player every night.”

Aven Sasser | Little Rock Central | 6-1 | SO

Sasser has played varsity since her freshman year and has taken great strides this year. She has averaged eight points and six rebounds per game playing the ‘3’ spot as well as a stretch power forward. She handles the ball well and shoots effectively from outside.

“Aven busted on the scene a little late, but she has really begun to progress,” Central Coach Marlon Williams said. “She will grow into something pretty soon.”

Abby Summitt | Greenwood | 5-10 | SR

Summitt may get overlooked on this Lady Bulldogs’ squad that is loaded with talent, but she is just as important to their run to Hot Springs as anyone. Greenwood head coach Clay Reeves raved about her ability, particularly from three-point range, multiple times during the state tournament in Sheridan.

Madeleine Tipton | Vilonia | 5-10 | SR

Tipton had a fantastic season leading the Lady Eagles to the Class 5A state tournament quarterfinals. The Ouachita Baptist signee is a threat to score whenever she touches the ball, which her coach says she continuously gets better at.

“Madeleine’s ability to score the basketball has greatly improved over the past year,” head coach Jeremy Simon said. “She is a great shooter from outside, can get to the rim, and can post up inside. She seems to get better every week.”

Sidney Townsend | Nashville | 5-7 | SR

Townsend has made the most of her senior year contributing 10 points each time she touches the floor along with five rebounds for the Scrapperettes who tore through their conference schedule and are hoping to finish with a state title.

Megyn Upton | Mammoth Spring | 5-9 | SR

Upton is one of the veterans on a very young, but very successful, Lady Bears team. She has averaged 11 points per game this year and has helped Mammoth Spring to signature wins this year over fellow 1A Power Mt.Vernon-Enola, Winnsboro (Texas), and Marmaduke.

Audri Winfrey | Lake Hamilton | 6-0 | SR

Lake Hamilton’s season came to an end in the first round of the Class 5A state tournament, but Winfrey was a big part of a 2022 Lady Wolves senior class that went 42-0 the past three years in conference play. She averaged 12 points and 5 rebounds per game her this season and will play at Ouachita Baptist.

“Audri has been a great teammate and would always rather celebrate for someone else rather than herself,” Lady Wolves Coach Blake Condley said. “People who don’t know her have no idea how big her heart is towards others.”