NORTH LITTLE ROCK -- Eric Burnett could clearly be heard as he yelled "I want more" during the early stages of Fort Smith Northside's semifinal game Saturday afternoon.
The message was intended for 6-foot-9 sophomore center Jaylin Williams, who already had his team's first two field goals, but it was the rest of the Grizzlies who responded.
FORT SMITH NORTHSIDE 78, FAYETTEVILLE 54
FS Northside (21-9): Joe 24, Williams 15, Releford 12, Travis 10, Jacobs 7, Myers 5, Watson 3, McKinley 2.
Fayetteville (19-9): Morgan 13, Cooper 11, Johnson 9, Bowers 8, Munyambu 6, Kostel 3, Schach 2, Releford 2.
Northside (21-9) scored 23 unanswered points -- 12 by Javion Releford -- during a span of slightly more than 4 minutes, and the Grizzlies will return to Hot Springs to defend their Class 7A State Tournament championship after an impressive 78-54 victory over Fayetteville in Charging Wildcat Arena.
"They came out and got after it," Burnett said. "I was so pleased to see us put a quarter like that together, especially that first quarter. And ol' Javion Releford, bombing those 3s like that, that really got us going.
"Some people get motivated off dunks. Well, this team gets motivated off hitting those deep 3s, and that just sort of trickled down. We put a really good first half together."
Releford, a junior guard, hit 3 straight 3-pointers at one point and finished with four during Northside's early run. His last one came from well beyond the arc with 2 minutes, 54 seconds left in the first quarter and made it a 21-2 game, then Kentrell Jacobs hit back-to-back buckets to complete the 23-point outburst.
Fayetteville (19-9) didn't help its cause in the early stages as the Bulldogs had a flurry of missed shots and turnovers, and Collin Cooper finally ended the run when he scored at the 1:33 mark, almost 5 minutes after Fayetteville's first bucket. Meanwhile, Northside standout Isaiah Joe wasn't a major contributor during the run with only two points, but he finished with a team-high 24, including a dunk that gave the Grizzlies their biggest lead, 34-5, early in the second quarter.
"It wasn't bad defense," Fayetteville coach Kyle Adams said. "They were just getting deeper and deeper and deeper. They got it going, shot the ball extremely well, and credit those guys.
"I don't think there's anything we did wrong, and I'm talking about the players. Maybe our scheme was wrong; I don't know. But we competed for four quarters, and I'm proud of that."
The Bulldogs were able to cut the gap to 39-19 at halftime and pulled within 41-24 after Frank Morgan's bucket with 6:40 remaining in the third quarter, but Northside answered and extended their lead to 59-35 by the time the quarter ended.
Williams added 15 for the Grizzlies, followed by Releford with 12 and Anthony Travis Jr. with 11. Morgan had 13 and Cooper 11 to pace Fayetteville.
Preps Basketball on 03/04/2018
Print Headline: Fast start sends Northside back to title game