There was no deja vu this time for Fort Smith Northside.
Junior forward Jersey Wolfenbarger scored 22 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and blocked 4 shots as the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's No. 1-ranked Northside girls strutted away late for a 63-55 victory over North Little Rock at Charging Wildcat Arena.
Senior forward Tracey Bershers scored 22 points and grabbed 7 rebounds, and senior forward Jazz Coleman had 10 points and 9 rebounds for the Lady Bears (16-3, 5-0 6A-Central). Northside had a 23-game winning streak come to an end last year on the road against the Lady Charging Wildcats, and had lost the previous three times it'd played at North Little Rock, with two of those defeats coming in overtime.
Although an extra session wasn't necessary Friday, North Little Rock didn't go down without a fight.
"It's always a competition when we play them," said Northside Coach Rickey Smith, whose Lady Bears ran their winning streak to 11 games. "Every time we'd get a 10-12 point lead, North Little Rock would step up and make big plays to get right back in it. That wasn't one of our better offensive performances.
"We may not be pleased with how we played, but you've got to feel good anytime you win, especially in this conference."
Junior guard Arin Freeman and freshman guard April Edwards each scored 16 points for North Little Rock (10-9, 3-2), which shot just 4 of 15 from the floor in the fourth quarter to thwart its upset attempt. Sophomore center Amauri Williams added 9 points, 9 rebounds and 4 blocks.
Northside took the lead early in the first quarter and led by as many as 10 points in the second. The Lady Bears threatened to widen that gap on several occasions, but the Lady Charging Wildcats came up with timely steals and began feeding the ball inside to Williams, who scored six of their final 12 points in the quarter to cut the deficit to 32-24 by halftime.
"We continued to fight," North Little Rock Coach Daryl Fimple said. "That's a great basketball team with great players. And of course, Rickey is a hall of famer. But it was really good for our young kids to be in that kind of battle throughout.
"We're getting better and better. We're not there yet, but we're close."
North Little Rock trailed 40-29 with 4:55 left in the third after a leaner by Wolfenbarger, but the Lady Charging Wildcats began to capitalize off Northside turnovers to inch back into the game.
Consecutive steals started a surge that saw North Little Rock creep within 45-41 after a three-pointer from sophomore guard Karsyn Morgan with six seconds left in the third quarter. But Wolfenbarger rushed down the floor after the inbounds pass and buried a shot just inside the arc to swing the momentum back in the Lady Bears' favor.
Another run by North Little Rock trimmed Northside's lead to 53-47 with less than five minutes to play, but the Lady Bears hit 10 of 12 free throws over the next 4:07 to hold on.
"North Little Rock's speed and quickness hurt us, and then just the rivalry itself," Smith said. "That's North Little Rock in those jerseys. We had a tough one against Conway on Tuesday, then found a way to get this one. We'll take it."
Sports on 01/25/2020
Print Headline: FS Northside girls turn back all North Little Rock rallies