Farmington girls basketball coach relives state championship win

FARMINGTON, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — The Farmington Cardinals girl’s basketball team traveled down to Hot Springs and did something they were all too familiar with.

The Cardinals captured their second-consecutive Arkansas 4A State Championship with a 58-31 victory over Morrilton to cap off a 37-1 season. Head coach Brad Johnson said with a few minutes to go in the fourth quarter of the championship game, he could start to see the title in sight.

“Then, you kind of go down the rabbit hole of thinking about all the seniors and the careers they’ve had, and what they’ve meant to this community,” Johnson said. “The greatest thing is just seeing the joy of the faces of the players and to know their experience and the level of success that they created to their habits every single day.”

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Johnson said the road to this year’s success started on the first day of practice when the team came up with their five principles for the season.

“Control the things that you can control,” Johnson said. “The second thing was to come in and have tremendous effort every single day. The third thing was communication on and off the court. The fourth thing is bring something to the table, know your role and be absolutely great at it and value yourself. And then, come do that every single day.”

Farmington’s only loss of the season was a 70-60 defeat to Duncanville, Texas, in a nonconference game Dec. 2. Johnson said that was a turning point in the Cardinals’ season.

After that loss, Farmington rattled off 31-straight wins with an average margin of victory of 33.9 points per game.

Johnson said it’s awesome to see how the Farmington community rallied around both the boys’ and girls’ basketball teams this season. One of those community members along for the ride was Jeff Oxford.

He graduated from Farmington in 1986, playing basketball during his time as a student. His daughters both went to Farmington and played for Johnson, and Oxford said they both “think the world” of him.

Now, he has a front-row seat for current Cardinals’ games, sitting courtside as he calls games on the school’s live broadcasts.

“There’ll be calls, and we’ll say, ‘Ah, that’s a terrible call,’ but it’s the right call,” Oxford said. “People listen to us, they know we’re Cardinal fans.”

Oxford was gifted a state title ring by the 2023 Cardinals, and before the 2024 finals, he gave a rallying speech to the team.

“It’s important that everybody knows that all the players know they’re not in it alone,” Oxford said. “Everybody that played there before them, they’re there for them, too.”

Johnson said he was happy to see the seniors cap off their high school career with a win, calling it a “storybook ending” for them.

This year’s team is one of the best he’s coached in his 15-year career.

“We try to let every season stand on its own,” Johnson said. “We’ll do that with this one, too, but certainly one of the greatest teams collectively that we’ve ever had.”

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