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NORTH LITTLE ROCK BOYS BASKETBALL | Cats lose in conference for first time in two years

Two extremes were experienced by the North Little Rock Charging Wildcats in their past two contests.

Last Friday, North Little Rock (20-2, 10-1 6/7A-East) lost 64-62 at Jonesboro. Two days ago, the Charging Wildcats cruised to a 74-41 triumph at Searcy.

Jonesboro entered last Friday’s matchup with a lone conference loss to North Little Rock. Meanwhile, the Charging Wildcats had yet to lose a league game. North Little Rock Coach Johnny Rice knew the Hurricanes would be a challenge.

“We were 9-0 and they were 8-1, and we beat them by just three points the first time,” Rice said. “They played well, and we didn’t shoot as well. I was encouraged that when we were down we fought back.”

Rice said the Wildcats were behind by 15 points with about six minutes left in the contest. Twice under the two-minute mark, they had chances to go ahead but couldn’t quite do it.

“I think we learned a lot of things,” Rice said. “We didn’t give up, but this wasn’t unexpected. I just hope we learned from it.”

Against Searcy, North Little Rock controlled the tempo and made Searcy play from behind. Senior guard Anton Beard and junior guard Kevaughn Allen led the Wildcats in both contests. Against Jonesboro, Beard was the leader with 15 points while Allen added 14. The two swapped roles at Searcy as Allen was high scorer with 22 points, and Beard finished with 21.

Friday, North Little Rock hosts Marion. With two athletic, 6-foot-5 guys, Marion could be a challenge as size on the inside is not the Wildcats’ strength. If it turns into a half-court game, North Little Rock could be in trouble. In addition to playing for a conference championship, the Wildcats are also playing for the number one seed into the state tournament. Right now, they are in good shape as the top seed, and Rice believes if they can win two of their next three games then they can seal that spot.

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