FORT SMITH -- In the 24 years Rickey Smith has been the girls basketball coach at Fort Smith Northside, he has used his bench mainly to wear other teams down or mop up after a blowout win.
Against Little Rock Central on Tuesday, the Lady Bears' reserves were the key reason Northside captured a 62-51 7A-Central victory at Kaundart Arena.
Trailing 16-5 with 1 minute, 20 seconds left in the first quarter, the Lady Bears' bench began to assert itself offensively, scoring 20 of the next 26 points to give Northside a 31-28 halftime lead. Though the bench only scored five second-half points, it was the 9-minute stretch in the first half that Smith said saved the game for his team.
"Their play was the key to the win," Smith said. "Sometimes when you go to the bench it can help you or it can hurt you. Central got after us early and we played scared. We don't win the game tonight without their efforts."
Northside outscored the Lady Tigers 26-7 in an 8-minute stretch to open up a 31-23 advantage. A 3-pointer by Elyse Smith and a steal and drive by Erynn Barnum trimmed the Lady Bear lead to 31-28 at halftime, but the momentum had changed.
"You look out there and you have two juniors, a sophomore and two freshmen on the floor," Smith said. "Alexis Evans came off the bench and was dominated like we know she can. Deairah Mays played well and Jazz Coleman was everywhere for us tonight. They were the difference."
In the second half, Northside got the lead to double-digits for the first time on a pair of free throws by Tracey Bershers for a 45-34 lead with 1:21 left in the third period. The lead was a big as 56-41 with 3:42 left after two more free throws by Bershers. The Lady Tigers got back to within 58-50 on a layup by Barnum, but there were just 48 seconds left.
"In the second half, we played much better," Smith added. "Tonight, it was a team effort -- our starters and the players coming off the bench."
Bershers, a freshman, scored 16 points to lead Northside while Coleman came off the bench to add 15. Barnum's game-high 23 points and 11 rebounds paced the Lady Tigers while Ariyanna Hall added 11.
Northside travels to Mount St. Mary Friday while Central hosts Bryant.
FS Northside 62, LR Central 51
LR Central 16 12 8 15 -- 51
FS Northside 11 20 14 17 -- 62
Central (9-5, 0-2): Barnum 23, Hall 11, Smith 7, Cole 5, Peyton 3, Lewis 2.
Northside (14-1, 2-0: T. Bershers 16, Coleman 15, Wolfenbarger 6, Mays 6, Carey 5, Green 4, Evans 4, S. Bershers 4, Cooksey 2.
FS Northside 80, LR Central 57
The Grizzlies (11-5, 2-0) to the lead for good late in the first half, and pulled away in the second half for the 7A-Central win over the Tigers (4-9, 0-2).
Central led 16-14 after one quarter, but Northside exploded for a 23-point second quarter to take a 37-35 halftime lead.
In the second half, the Grizzlies pulled away, outscoring the Tigers 25-13 to open up a double-digit lead at 62-48. Northside, which made 12 3-pointers in the game, increased the lead to 21 with four minutes left to put the game away.
"We knew we were going to get some good looks against them, but Central really pushed us out of our offensive looks (in the first quarter)," said Northside interim coach Greg Scott. "We were more aggressive offensively from the second quarter on. When you make 12 3-pointers and play good defense, a lot of good things will happen for us."
Isaiah Joe paced the Grizzlies, which scored 69 points in the final 3 quarters. with a game-high 25 points while Javion Relford poured in 16 and Kentrell Jacobs added 12 16. Raijon McIntosh led Central with 20 points while Jakaylyn Jackson added 12.
FS NORTHSIDE 83, LR CENTRAL 59
LR Central 16 19 13 11 -- 59
FS Northside 14 23 25 21 -- 83
LR CENTRAL (4-9, 0-2): McIntosh 17, Jackson 15, Sasser 7, Dudley 6, Williams 6, Richardson 5, Jones 2, Arnett 1.
FS NORTHSIDE (11-5, 2-0): Joe 25, Releford 16, Jacobs 12, McKinley 8, Williams 7, Travis 7, Gordon 5, Slater 3.Preps Basketball on 01/10/2018
Print Headline: Basketball: Reserves carry Northside past Central