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7A BOYS TITLE GAME | North Little Rock vs. Fayetteville

One might say it’s now or never.

All the talk. All the hype, disbelief, and speculation ends.

The North Little Rock Charging Wildcats will take on Fayetteville on Saturday afternoon and one thing’s for sure. They will make history.

The type of history is up to them.

“We will be remembered,” North Little Rock head coach Johnny Rice said. “Whether it’s for winning a state title or losing one.”

The Charging Wildcats have seen Fayetteville before. They beat them in the semifinals in the Jammin’ for Jackets tournament, and it was widely believed that they would see the Bulldogs again.

How does a coach motivate his team to beat somebody twice?

Despite it being for the 7A state title, there is the fact that Fayetteville has had North Little Rock’s number in numerous sports in recent years.

“We talk about avenging the football team,” Rice said, “and last year.”

The Purple Dogs have been North Little Rock’s nemesis in semifinals in basketball in the state tournament last season and in football during the playoffs this season.

Fayetteville has the obvious size advantage and will likely want to slow down the game. Rice, however, wants to make it a 94-feet game from tip to buzzer.

North Little Rock hasn’t lost a game all season inside the borders of Arkansas, but a Saturday loss is all that will be remembered.

A win on Saturday, however, assures North Little Rock immortality.

— Bruce Guthrie

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