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FORT SMITH -- Fort Smith Northside slowed it down and found efficient shots to pull away when it mattered most Saturday night at Kaundart-Grizzly Fieldhouse.

Freshman guard Jersey Wolfenbarger made a key 3-pointer late in the game to help Northside in a 41-33 victory against Van Buren in the title game of the annual Tournament of Champions.

Fort Smith Northside 41, Van Buren 33

Van Buren^11^8^7^7^—^33


Van Buren (4-4): Kinney 12, Evans 11, Ryan 6, Sandoval 2, Schnakenberg 2.

Northside (9-0): S. Bershers 11, Carey 8, Wolfenbarger 8, Coleman 7, Green 5, T. Bershers 2.


Tournament of Champions

At Fort Smith Northside

Saturday’s games

East Central (Okla.) 48, FS Southside 34

Navajo (Okla.) 41, Vinita, Okla. 39

Bossier City, La. 71, Howe, Okla. 68

Fort Smith Northside 41, Van Buren 33

"We like to play fast," Northside girls basketball coach Rickey Smith said. "But it kept getting closer and closer. We just put the ball inside for higher percentage shots. Luckily for us, it worked out. We hit some big shots and found a way to win."

The Lady Bears took a 30-26 advantage heading into the fourth quarter. Wolfenbarger was able to push the lead out to 37-31 with a shot behind the arc answering a three-point play from Van Buren's Kayleigh Evans.

"She hit a big three there and kind of broke it open for us," Smith said. "I didn't know if we wanted to hold the ball a lot in the fourth quarter. But we were having a hard time scoring."

Northside then got four free throws from Sara Bershers to keep the game well out of reach in the final minutes of the game.

"We weren't able to take advantage on our end down the stretch," Van Buren coach Chris Bryant said. "They are a good team. They put the game away like a good team will."

The Lady Bears made 11 of 40 shots from the field in the game but didn't miss one in the final quarter. Northside made both of its field goals while making six of seven free-throw attempts to close out the game strong.

Northside also took advantage of extra opportunities finishing with 17 offensive rebounds in the game.

"Both teams were doing a great job on defense," Bryant said. "The difference in this game was their ability to get multiple shots near the rim. They were really good on the offensive boards."

Northside, which won its seventh Tournament of Champions title, was led by Bersher's team-high 11 points. Cierah Carey and Wolfenbarger each added eight points. Jazzlyn Coleman added seven points for the Lady Bears.

Jamilyn Kinney finished with a game-high 12 points for Van Buren, while Evans scored 11 to help keep the offense balanced.

Smith said his team will look to build on the momentum of the tournament championship with his young team that started two freshmen.

"We feel good about this," Smith said. "Every team we played in this tournament ended up finishing with two wins. We faced some really good teams. We feel really good about our future with some players out right now."

Northside was able to take a 23-19 lead heading into halftime with the help of a 10-0 run during the second quarter.

Van Buren got a basket from Kinney to take a 15-13 lead, but that's just when Northside was able to take back the lead.

Sports on 12/10/2017

Print Headline: FS Northside locks down TofC title


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