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NORTH LITTLE ROCK BOYS Cats keep winning big

The North Little Rock Charging Wildcats are winning big. In their last two games, they have beaten Little Rock Central and Searcy by nearly 40 points to keep their conference record unblemished.

The margins of victory have allowed coach Johnny Rice a bit more flexibility in his playing rotation.

“We’ve been playing seven kids,” Rice said, “but in the last two games we’ve been able play a couple more younger kids to see what they can do, how they react, and get them some experience.”

Rice said he has been pleased with the results so far and will likely need a bit more depth as the upcoming games become more important.

Those games include a home contest against Cabot on Friday plus games against Jonesboro and at West Memphis.

“The games are going to get tougher,” Rice said who admittedly has been concerned lately that his team’s focus may wane in light of a softer portion of the schedule.

“It’s a concern, but we work on the things we can control,” Rice said.

Those things include defensive play, rebounding and overall hustle.

“If we do those things, then we will be ok,” Rice said.

Rice said he has been proud of how his team has handled success this season.

“This is something that hasn’t happened around here in a while,” Rice said, “the way some of the players are getting recognized, and the team for that matter.”

So far his team has remained grounded and Rice also said his team has actually bonded.

“In the past, we had teams that didn’t trust each other,” Rice said, “and it showed up on the floor.”

Rice has combated bad chemistry with team building off the floor. The Charging Wildcats have traveled together to compete in Fort Smith and in New Madrid, Mo. Rice said those trips as well as doing things together away from basketball such as charity work and gathering at Rice’s house for meals has paid big dividends in the chemistry of his team.

“When I was an assistant, I would always wonder how I would handle a situation,” Rice said.

Rice said chemistry has been more important this season than even he imagined.

“It’s big,” Rice said, “and it’s showing up on the floor.”

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