Spencer Simes would not allow a North Little Rock victory to slip through his fingers.
Simes, a sophomore guard, hit a shot from underneath his own goal as time expired to allow the Charging Wildcats to escape with a 62-60 victory over visiting Little Rock Central in a 7A-Central Conference contest Friday night.
North Little Rock (18-4, 7-1) never trailed and led by as many as 21 points with 2:51 remaining in the third quarter, but needed a missed Central free throw and some heroics by Simes to mute the Tigers' comeback.
"I never hit a shot like that in my life, but it's something I've always dreamed about since I was a little boy," said Simes, who finished with 11 points and three assists. "I grew up watching some of the North Little Rock greats. I wanted to be like them."
After Collin Moore's dunk with 2:51 left in the third quarter, Central (7-12, 3-5) trailed 52-31, but the Tigers scored the final 11 points of the quarter.
North Little Rock held a 59-54 advantage with 34.6 seconds remaining after a Decorey Watkins' free throw, but the Charging Wildcats missed their next four shots from the line to allow Central one final push.
Junior K.D. Arnett was fouled while hitting a leaning 7-footer with 7.2 seconds to tie the game at 60-60. Arnett missed the subsequent free throw.
"I knew it was going to be short when he put it up," Simes said. "I raced down court and found an opening. [Moses] Moody threw the pass and I was able to bring it in and hit the shot."
The play did not come without an anxious moment. Simes almost lost the ball out of bounds, but he recovered in time to put up the awkward shot that won the game.
"I was scared." Simes said. "I thought it had slipped out of my hands."
North Little Rock Coach Johnny Rice celebrated the victory but did not enjoy the way his team played in the final 11 minutes.
"I was proud of the way we got it up the court and found a way to win," Rice said. "But we've got to learn from this experience. Maybe it will make us a better team later on."
Reserve guard Otis Jordan came off the bench to lead North Little Rock with 12 points. Moore and Moody each added 10. Ray Fresh scored nine, while Moody had eight rebounds.
Junior Rajhon McIntosh sparked Central's comeback, scoring nine of his team-high 17 points in the game's final 9:08. Jakaylyn Jackson matched Arnett's 13 points.
North Little Rock hit 7 of its first 10 three-point attempts, but could only finish 8 of 16 from long distance. Neither team shined from the free-throw line. North Little Rock was 8 of 20, while Central made 10 of 25.
LITTLE ROCK CENTRAL (60)
Jackson 5 0-0 13, Dudley 1 0-0 3, Arnett 4 3-9 13, Williams 0 2-4 2, Richardson 1 2-3 4, McIntosh 8 1-3 17, Dallimore 2 2-4 6, Sasser 1 0-2 2. Totals 22 10-25 60.
NORTH LITTLE ROCK (62)
Fresh 3 1-4 9, Watkins 0 1-6 1, Moore 4 2-2 10, Moody 3 2-2 10, Simes 5 1-4 11, Jordan 5 1-2 12, Thrower 3 0-0 9. Totals 23 8-20 62.
LR Central (7-12) 12 12 18 18 -- 60
NLR (18-4) 19 22 11 10 -- 62
Three-point goals -- Central 6 (Jackson 3, Arnett 2, Dudley); NLR 8 (Thrower 3, Fresh 2, Moody 2, Jordan). Team fouls -- Central 18, NLR 18. Fouled out -- Watkins. Technicals -- Jackson, Moore.
Sports on 02/03/2018
Print Headline: Simes finds net for NLR winner