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Little Rock Central is riding a four-game winning streak as the second half of the 6A-Central Conference begins.

The Tigers (14-5, 4-3) dropped their first three conference games — the first two by a combined six points — but at the halfway point of the league schedule, Central is only two games out of first place.

“I knew coming into this season that we would have to win some close games because so many of the teams are equal,” Central Coach Brian Ross said. “We got off to a bad start, but I feel good about where we’re at. Our confidence is back. I know we can’t control everything, but we’ve given ourselves a chance.”

Seniors Rajhon McIntosh and A.J. Williams are the Tigers’ top two scorers, but Central does not had a dominate offensive star. Ross says the Tigers’ top five players are averaging 7 to 12 points a game.

Central plays at defending state champion North Little Rock tonight. North Little Rock (17-5, 5-2) won the first meeting between the teams 67-63 in overtime on Jan. 4.

After losing to Bryant 59-47 on Jan. 11, the Tigers have won their last four games by an average of 7.8 points a game.

“We just need to keep doing what we do well and keep improving in areas in which we need to improve,” Ross said. “But I think every team wants to do that at this point in the season”

NORTH LITTLE ROCK

McCollough out

Kylon McCollough, North Little Rock’s 6-4 senior forward, will most likely miss the remainder of the season with torn cartilage in his right knee.

North Little Rock Coach Johnny Rice said McCollough underwent surgery on Wednesday. The recovery time for that type of injury is six weeks.

“It’s really too bad because he was playing well for us,” Rice said.

The injury apparently occurred during North Little Rock’s game at Fort Smith Northside on Jan. 18. Rice said McCollough attempted a dunk and came down awkwardly on his knee. McCollough did not play in the Charging Wildcats’ games against Bryant and Cabot.

Rice said McCollough was averaging 13.5 points and 4.5 rebounds a game.

IZARD COUNTY

Lots of Justus

Izard County Coach Kyle McCandlis sought out the toughest schedule he could find for his Cougars. It is apparently paying off for his Class 1A team.

The Cougars got a taste of North Little Rock, Pine Bluff, Jonesboro Westside, Pulaski Academy, Springdale Har-Ber, Conway and Marion during tournament action in December. Izard County won a few of those games and took some lumps in some of the others, but McCandlis says there’s no doubt he’s coaching a better team because of it.

“You wouldn’t believe the difference it’s made,” McCandlis said. “We got to test ourselves against the best. We got to see just what we’re capable of doing. It changed our game.”

Izard County (31-4, 16-0) wrapped up the 1A-2 Conference schedule Wednesday night with a 66-34 victory over Omaha, which extended the Cougars’ conference winning streak to 64 games.

McCandlis said 6-5 junior forward Justus Cooper is averaging 20 points, 15 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 3.5 blocks a game. Cooper compiled an 18-point, 22-rebound, 12-assist game in an 86-58 home victory over Western Grove on Jan. 25.

“He played hard but he’s so efficient,” McCandlis said. “He didn’t play in the fourth quarter. Those are big numbers for him, but he’s humble about it.”

The Cougars have won 11 consecutive games since losing to No. 1 Marion 91-70 on Dec. 29. Since Jan. 4, Izard County is averaging 73.3 points a game and the Cougars’ margin of victory has been at least 14 points in all 11 games.

LITTLE ROCK HALL

Back on top

Little Rock Hall has won its last three games to claim a share of first place in the 5A-Central Conference. The Warriors’ next three games are against teams with a combined 3-18 league record.

While conditions are favoring the Warriors at this time, Coach Jon Coleman says his team is not overconfident.

“We’ve lost games this season and I think that’s kept us at an even keel,” Coleman said. “Besides, we know we’ve haven’t won anything yet.”

Hall (13-6, 6-1) is tied with Pine Bluff (8-9, 6-1) for the league lead. Pine Bluff won the first meeting on Jan. 18. The rematch is scheduled for Feb. 12 at Hall.

“With all of our starters back from last year, we expected to have a solid team,” Coleman said. “There’s a lot of parity, not only in our league, but around the state. There are teams in our conference we weren’t familiar with that it’s taken some time to get used to that. That’s made every game a little tougher.”

Hall plays at Watson Chapel tonight.

FORREST CITY

A loaded region

The 4A-East Region Tournament, which involves teams from the 4A-3 and the 4A-5 conferences, is shaping up to be a quality event.

As of last week’s Arkansas Democrat-Gazette rankings, three of the top six Class 4A teams will be involved in the East Region, including No. 1 Mills and No. 2 Jonesboro Westside. Blytheville is ranked No. 5 and unranked Brookland upset Westside on Tuesday. Highland High School will host the 4A East Region, which begins. Feb. 20.

Forrest City Coach Dwight Lofton is hoping his team can be a part of the mix.

“When you look at the teams on the other side of the region you have Westside (17-4) and Blytheville (14-5),” Lofton said. “Well, which poison do you want to pick? People will tell you that you don’t want to be the No. 4 seed, but coming out of this conference, it’s no big deal. … I think [the 4A-5] really prepares you for the postseason.”

Lofton, however, knows his team must snap out of a slump. The Mustangs have lost four in a row.

Today’s games

6A-CENTRAL

Bryant at FS Northside

Cabot at LR Catholic

Cabot at Mount St. Mary

FS Southside at Conway

LR Central

at North Little Rock

6A-WEST

Bentonville

at Springdale Har-Ber

Fayetteville

at Bentonville West

Rogers at Van Buren

Springdale at Rogers Heritage

5A-CENTRAL

Jacksonville at Pine Bluff

LR Hall at Watson Chapel

LR Parkview at Sylvan Hills

White Hall at Maumelle

5A-EAST

Greene Co. Tech at Nettleton

Mountain Home at Jonesboro

Paragould at Searcy

West Memphis at Marion

5A-SOUTH

HS Lakeside at Lake Hamilton

LR Fair at El Dorado

Sheridan at Benton

Texarkana at Hot Springs

5A-WEST

Alma at Vilonia

Greenbrier at Russellville

Greenwood at LR Christian

Siloam Springs at Beebe

4A-1

Berryville at Shiloh Christian

Gravette at Farmington

Huntsville at Harrison

4A-4

Dover at Dardanelle

Heber Springs at Subiaco

Morrilton at Clarksville

Ozark at Pottsville

4A-5

LR McClellan at Pul. Academy

Mills at Robinson

4A-7

De Queen at Hope

Mena at Bauxite

Nashville at Arkadelphia

4A-8

Crossett at Camden Fairview

Monticello at Magnolia

3A-1 EAST

Bergman at Marshall

Green Forest at Clinton

Mountain View at Rose Bud

3A-1 WEST

Greenland at Cedarville

Mansfield at West Fork

Waldron at Charleston

3A-2

Bald Knob at Pal.-Wheatley

Cave City at Harrisburg

Harding Academy at Newport

Riverview at Tuckerman

3A-4

Atkins at Perryville

Fountain Lake at Lamar

Jessieville at Paris

Two Rivers at Booneville

3A-5

CAC at Baptist Prep

Episcopal Collegiate at Jacksonville Lighthouse

Glen Rose at Mayflower

Harmony Grove at LISA Acad.

3A-7

Ashdown at Malvern

Bismarck at Genoa Central

Centerpoint at Fouke

Prescott at Smackover

3A-8

DeWitt at Dumas

McGehee at Drew Central

West Helena at Lake Village

Print Headline: Central rolling on win streak

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