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story.lead_photo.caption Springdale’s Jajuan Boyd (left) scrambles for a loose ball with North Little Rock’s Collin Moore (center) and Decorey Watkins during North Little Rock’s 49-47 victory Wednesday at the Class 6A boys basketball state tournament at Centerton. - Photo by Ben Goff

CENTERTON -- Springdale gave the defending state champions quite a challenge in the opening round of the Class 6A boys state basketball tournament Wednesday in Wolverine Arena.

But the Charging Wildcats rode some intense defense in the fourth quarter to escape with a 49-47 victory over the Bulldogs and advance to the quarterfinals to take on Bentonville at 8:30 tonight. North Little Rock defeated Bentonville 68-57 in mid-December.

North Little Rock Coach Johnny Rice was critical of the way his team played, but he was happy his team found a way to survive.

"We played with a little more energy in the second half, played with a little more ... desperation, a little more energy for sure," Rice said. "The ball wasn't bouncing our way. We just found a way to finally get it done.

"We base everything off of defense. We didn't play with any urgency. We didn't play very smart. We weren't moving. We didn't share the basketball. In a tournament like this, you've gotta win a game like this. I'm hoping we got that one out of the way."

Gallery: NLR vs. Springdale High Boys 6A Tournament

Shawn Fudge's steal and layup gave North Little Rock (22-8) the lead for good, 42-41, with 2:32 left. The Charging Wildcats trailed much of the second half and by as many as six.

North Little Rock made 7 of 12 free throws over the final 2:07.

Collin Moore scored seven in the fourth quarter, including a three-point play to tie the game at 40-40 with 3:19 left. He also hit two free throws to push North Little Rock's lead to 44-41 with two minutes remaining.

Moore, a 6-4 senior, poured in a game-high 21 points, while Decorey Watkins added 10 for North Little Rock. Jajuan Boyd led Springdale (11-15) with 18, and Vincent Mason added 10.

Boyd picked up his fourth foul with 3:49 left in the third quarter and was forced to the bench, which was big, said Springdale Coach Jeremy Price. The Bulldogs were ahead 28-24 at that point but still led 33-32 after three quarters.

"He's a press-breaker by himself," Price said. "He had to sit for a long time after he picked up his fourth, ultimately fouled out of the game.

"They were able to capitalize on a few turnovers at key moments. We handled the pressure really well for a long time, but late in the game, it's easy to look at a few plays. That's kinda what it came down to.

"Our kids have always gotten up for the big games. We've had some ups and downs, but they were ready to play today. They gave themselves a chance and earned the right to be here and just came up two or three points short of getting to the next round."

Cabot 56, Springdale Har-Ber 48

Cabot used balanced scoring to eliminate Springdale Har-Ber in a first-round game.

Jacob Hudson scored 15 points for the Panthers, who advanced to today's quarterfinal game against Bryant at 5:30 p.m. Jackson Muse and Seth Vance followed with 12 each.

Cabot (20-8) outscored Har-Ber 10-5 in the third quarter to take control. Hudson got the Panthers started with a three-pointer, followed by a three-point play off a rebound by Kairo Rudolph.

"In the third quarter, we started to settle down defensively," Cabot Coach Chris Meseke said. "I thought we were a little lost earlier in our scheme and what we were trying to do. But we were able to create some separation there in the third quarter and push it on out."

Lawson Jenkins scored 16 points and Nick Buchanan 14 for Har-Ber (10-15).

Fort Smith Northside 52 Bentonville West 47

The Grizzlies (19-11) made 7 of 10 free throws over the final 2:14 to advance past the Wolverines (12-16).

Jaylin Williams, a 6-9 senior, poured in a game-high 20 points -- including 13 of 17 from the free-throw line.

Dawson Bailey led Bentonville West with 17 points.

Photo by Ben Goff
North Little Rock’s Spencer Simes (13) puts up a shot during Wednesday’s victory over Springdale in the first round of the Class 6A boys basketball state tournament at Bentonville West High School.

Sports on 02/28/2019

Print Headline: Charging Wildcats avoid Bulldogs' bite

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