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NORTH LITTLE ROCK BASKETBALL | Turkey Day hoops for Cats

It’s time for game one.

The talk about last season is over. The North Little Rock Charging Wildcats’ basketball team is going through some things this season that are markedly different than last season.

Coach Johnny Rice said it would be good to finally get the first game under their belt. That will happen on Thanksgiving Day in Forrest City at the annual Rumble on the Ridge when the Charging Wildcats face the Wynne, who could be considered a surprise state tournament team in 2012-13.

“We are ready to play somebody,” Rice said.

The landscape of the Charging Wildcat basketball has changed drastically in 12 months.

A year ago, few could name the players on the team and saw Rice as a guy keeping things intact until a coach could be named.

All the Cats did was go unbeaten in the state of Arkansas losing just once in, ironically, a Thanksgiving tournament in New Madrid, Mo., and won a state title.

Now the beginning of the basketball season seems to bring a polar opposite atmosphere.

“We have a target on our back,” Rice said. “We are going to get everybody’s best game now.”

That’s true despite the fact that only five players return that dressed out in the state title game against Fayetteville.

But the team has talent led by transfer Anton Beard, who has inked to play for the Razorbacks already.

“It’s been the easiest transition that you’ll see,” Rice said of Beard’s first months on the team since his freshman year.

No one is going to be surprised by the Charging Wildcats this year. In fact, fans will likely be disappointed if they don’t at least come close to a carbon copy of last year’s domination.

The Charging Wildcats’ opponents want to be the ones to knock the giant Cats off their championship pedestal.

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