JONESBORO -- North Little Rock has been the one making teams uncomfortable this season, but Jonesboro flipped the script Saturday.
The Golden Hurricane bore down defensively and got on-time shooting from Isaac Harrell to knock off the Charging Wildcats 62-48 to win the Hurricane Classic at Don Riggs Gymnasium.
Harrell, who was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player, hit five three-pointers and finished with 18 points to lead Jonesboro (3-0), which lost to North Little Rock in the finals of the event the previous two years but snapped that streak in a major way in front of a boisterous crowd. The junior also had five rebounds and three steals. Jesse Washington added 13 points, 5 rebounds and 4 steals.
But for Jonesboro Coach Wes Swift, it was the way the Golden Hurricane defended that made the difference.
North Little Rock (5-1) hit 14 of 45 (31.1%) shots, with the bulk of those contested. The Charging Wildcats made just one field goal in the fourth quarter -- a three-pointer from Tyler Fredrick – with 6:03 left and mustered five free throws after that.
"It takes everybody," Swift said of his team's defensive outing. "I thought Deion Bufford on Nick [Smith] was so good, he just made everything hard. It started there, but it's collective. You don't play North Little Rock and just say, 'Hey, we're gonna go guard this guy.' ... It's a team effort."
Smith finished with a game-high 23 points and pulled down five rebounds, but no other Charging Wildcat had an impact offensively. Kel'el Ware had 11 points and seven rebounds.
Jonesboro led for nearly the entire first half and never let North Little Rock get into a real flow. The Charging Wildcats did have an 11-3 blast in the second quarter, with Smith scoring nine of those, to eventually take a 22-21 lead, but a long three-pointer from Washington one minute later started a boost that led to the Golden Hurricane' 29-27 lead at halftime.
North Little Rock was within 35-33 on Ware's three-point play with 4:54 showing in the third, but a three-pointer from Devarious Montgomery started a 9-0 run that put Jonesboro up 44-33. Fredrick's three later cut the Hurricane's margin to 48-43 in the fourth until back-to-back jumpers from Amarion Wilson, who ended with 12 points, again handed the momentum back to Jonesboro.
The Charging Wildcats managed to close the gap to 54-48 after two free throws from Corey Washington with just over three minutes remaining before Washington came up with a basket and Harrell buried a 26-footer from the left wing on consecutive possessions to seal it.
"Hopefully this gives us confidence," said Swift, whose team shot 22 of 42 (52.3%) for the game. "Again, this is all a building process so that you're ready once conference gets here. To give yourself a chance to win a conference championship and then be hitting on all cylinders when you get to the state tournament."
BARTLETT (TENN.) 70, BENTONVILLE 67
J.R. Jacobs kept Bartlett (6-3) on step ahead with his game-high 21 points. The senior also canned 4 three-pointers, including one with 3:56 left in the fourth that stymied a Tigers' push.
Amarr Knox had 18 points for the Panthers, who surrendered the game's first five points before regrouping.
Jaylen Lee had 11 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter for Bentonville (2-2). Caden Miller had 16 points, 13 rebounds and 3 blocks while Hayden Shanks ended with 14 points.
BEEBE 51, MANILA 46
Noah Hirscheider knocked down six three-pointers, three of which came in the fourth quarter, to lead Beebe (3-4) to a comeback victory and sixth place.
Brooks Nail ended with 12 points, 9 assists, 5 rebounds and 3 steals for the Badgers.
Brayden Nunnally contributed 14 points and eight rebounds for Manila. Jake Baltimore scored 11 points and Luke Kirk added 10 more for Manila.
BROOKLAND 80, RIDGEFIELD CHRISTIAN 60
David York had 21 points, including 11 in the fourth quarter, and came up with seven steals to lead Brookland (2-4) to a seventh-place finish.
Aidan Roberson and Cole Kirby scored 15 points apiece and Ben Jackson finished with 11 points for the Bearcats.
Ridgefield Christian (7-7) was led by Doss McDaniel, who ended with 20 points, and Noah Stracener added 19 points and 9 rebounds.