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NORTH LITTLE ROCK BOYS Cats scratch towards the top

The North Little Rock Charging Wildcats have gone from being an afterthought in the state to being one of the top teams in just a very short time.

“We’ve gone from being looked at as not a very good team to being a very good team,” said head coach Johnny Rice.

The proof is in the results as well as whom those results have come against.

The Charging Wildcats have faced some very good competition so far this season, especially in the last six games.

After a good showing in the Riverbend Classic in New Madrid, Mo, the Charging Wildcats have beaten some very impressive teams.

Tuesday’s 60-52 win over Jacksonville was the second win in their last six outings.

The list includes Memphis East, Little Rock Parkview, Fayetteville and a win over Little Rock Hall in the finals of the Jammin’ for Jackets tournament last week.

Rice credits his team’s success to depth and cohesiveness.

“We have come together as a team,” Rice said. “We share the basketball.”

In last week’s championship win over Hall, Rice said the Warriors tried numerous defensive combinations.

“They started with man, then went to zone,” Rice said, “then matchup.”

Rice said opponents will have trouble keeping attention on just one or two players.

“We’ve had three different guys score 25 or more points so far this season,” Rice said, “and on Saturday we had four or five guys in double figures.”

Gary Vines, who hasn’t gotten a lot of ink for scoring, is what Rice calls the “glue” to his team’s success.

“He guards their best player,” Rice said, “and handles the ball in pressure situations.”

The competition doesn’t get any easier. NLR takes on Clarksville before the Christmas break then off to Fort Smith to the Coke Classic where they will face Bryant in the first round.

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