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NORTH LITTLE ROCK GIRLS BASKETBALL | Cats win thriller

The North Little Rock bench erupts after beating Central last Friday. Jaison Sterling photoBuy Photo
The North Little Rock bench erupts after beating Central last Friday. Jaison Sterling photo

Nothing like a close game to get ready for the state tournament, and that is exactly what the North Little Rock Charging Lady Wildcats experienced last Friday.

It took double overtime for the Lady Wildcats (21-6) to overcome their rival Little Rock Central, 71-63. With the victory, North Little Rock shared the 6A/7A-East conference title with West Memphis (both were 12-2) and is the number seed three in the 7A state tournament which begins today in Conway. The Lady Wildcats play Bryant at 4 p.m. today. A victory pits them against Bentonville at 7 p.m. Friday.

“I think that was good for us,” North Little Rock Coach Daryl Fimple said. “It was good to see the kids battle back and understand they can do it.”

The Charging Lady Wildcats were down by nine points in the third period, and Fimple said the fourth quarter was pretty much a stalemate. He added that North Little Rock made its free throws and hit some big shots and dominated in the second overtime. Junior guard Malica Monk had 22 points, six rebounds, five steals and eight assists to spark North Little Rock.

Now, it’s time to see what North Little Rock can do in the state tournament. One thing Fimple is happy about is the way his team is performing.

“We are playing extremely well right now,” he said. “We’ve got a rhythm on offense and our defense has been good for us. We are playing really well on the glass which is leading to some easy baskets, and we are having fun.”

Fimple expects the Lady Wildcats to go into the state tournament relaxed. Winning 10 games in a row, they have seen all kinds of scenarios. In many of those games, they were behind somewhere in the contest, and a lot of times it was in the first half. Since that seems to be North Little Rock’s pattern, Fimple won’t be worried if it happens this week.

“It upsets me more than it does them,” he said. “When it is one game and out, all that is important is a win, and it doesn’t matter by how many points.”

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