FORT SMITH -- With its toughest stretch of the regular season upcoming, the Northside Lady Bears are gearing up for the challenge.
Jersey Wolfenbarger scored 22 points to lead Northside to a 64-35 6A-Central victory over Little Rock Mount St. Mary Academy on Friday night at Kaundart Fieldhouse.
The Lady Bears (21-3, 10-0 6A-Central) are two games ahead of Cabot in the 6A-Central standings with four games left.
"We know what is ahead of us," Northside coach Rickey Smith said. "Right now, we have a two-game cushion and that's a little pressure off of us. There are big ball games coming up. This is crunch time, and the challenge is in front of us. This is mid-February, and you want to be playing your best basketball right now.
"They have a lot of pride. We are playing with confidence as well as like we have something to prove. They know we have never run the table in this conference. Our biggest challenge is the game against Conway on Tuesday."
Northside dominated in all phases, shooting 23-of-48 from the field, including 9-20 from beyond the 3-point arc. The Lady Bears also forced 20 turnovers while limiting the Belles to just 26 percent shooting (9-of-34) from the field and 3-of-19 shooting 3-pointers.
"We pressed and trapped just a little bit to speed up the tempo," Smith said. "We wanted to play faster than they wanted to. I loved the way we played tonight. We played with confidence. We shot the ball better, and we were balanced in that we have several players that can score from several positions."
Besides Wolfenbarger, Tracey Bershers added 19 points, including four 3-pointers.
"I was glad to see Tracey shoot well tonight," Smith added. "We were all over the floor -- (Haitana) Releford getting steals, Jersey making great passes and Tracey making shots and Jazz Coleman playing hard on both sides of the court."
Northside led 15-4 after the first quarter and then increased the lead to 28-11 on a three-point play by Bershers midway in the second quarter. The Lady Bear halftime lead was 34-16 thanks to Wolfenbarger's 13 points and Bershers' 12.
A 6-0 spurt to open the second half -- four from Wolfenbarger -- gave Northside a commanding 40-16 lead with 5:22 left in the third quarter.
Catherine Althoff paced the Belles (7-16, 1-9) with 10 points.
Mount St. Mary 5 11 9 10 -- 35
FS Northside 18 16 17 13 -- 64
Mount St. Mary (7-16, 1-9): Althoff 10, Tarini 9, Allgood 7, Franks 6, Wilcox 3.
FS Northside (21-3, 10-0): Wolfenbarger 22, Bershers 19, Releford 7, West 5, Tillery 4, Hartgraves 3, Flemming 2, Harris 2.
Little Rock Catholic 47, Fort Smith Northside 46
Now the race for second place in the 6A-Central is a little tighter as the Rockets (8-14, 2-8) rallied on the road to upset the Grizzlies (17-7, 7-3).
Parker Loyd's two free throws with 30 seconds left in the game completed the comeback as Northside's final shot was missed.
Northside is still alone in second place, but only by a game over Conway and Bryant. Next week, the Grizzlies travel to the Wampus Cats on Tuesday before hosting 6A-Central leader North Little Rock on Friday.
Early in the second quarter, Northside had a seemingly comfortable 24-8 lead, but Catholic stormed back to get within 28-23 at halftime.
Catholic got its first lead of the game on a 3-pointer by Warren Heird for a 42-41 lead with 3:40 left.
Northside regained the lead at 46-46 with 45 second left on a jumper by Jaylin Williams, but Loyd would be fouled while driving to the basket and he calmly swished both shots.
Sam Hannah scored 14 points to pace the Rockets while Williams scored 12 to lead the Grizzlies.
LR Catholic 6 17 9 15 -- 47
FS Northside 19 9 10 8 -- 46
LR Catholic (8-14, 2-8): Hannah 14, Edington 9, Loyd 7, Johnson 6, Kleine 4, Flanagan 4, Heird 3.
FS Northside (17-7, 7-3): Williams 12, Keller 9, McKinley 8, Gordon 6, Perry 5, Joe 3, Owens 3.
Preps Sports on 02/15/2020
Print Headline: Lady Bears keep it rolling, rout Mount St. Mary