HOT SPRINGS -- North Little Rock Coach Johnny Rice keeps detailed notes of every Charging Wildcats practice. He refers to them often, checking to see what drills they ran and what they worked on a certain day.
Rice had no use for that notebook this week.
"I thought I'm not going to do what we did last year," Rice said. "We didn't win, so I didn't even look at it."
Today, the Charging Wildcats are hoping to close the book on Fort Smith Northside in a rematch of last year's Class 7A state championship game at the Bank of the Ozarks Arena.
Northside outlasted North Little Rock in 2017, taking a 50-49 victory in front of 6,509 fans when now graduated guard Tevin Brewer made a last-second steal just moments after he had given the Grizzlies the lead for good with a free throw.
"What I remember about that final six seconds is that Isaiah Joe was guarding a guy, and he went behind his back trying to get the ball," Northside Coach Eric Burnett said. "And Tevin Brewer comes out of nowhere and tips it. That ball was coming right at me. I'm yelling 'timeout,' but Tevin puts it in a different gear, dives and tips the ball to Isaiah. After that, I'm jumping for joy."
Rice's recollection of the game's final six seconds was not nearly as jolly.
"The most disappointing thing as a coach is that we never even got a shot," Rice said. "Collin [Moore] had gotten three or four offensive rebounds in the two minutes before that. I thought if we could just get to the rim that we would have a chance."
A different year, but the same two programs have returned to Hot Springs for a rematch.
"They could have the best player in the state in Isaiah Joe," Rice said. "You can see how they rally around him. They didn't have him the week before last and they lost two games. We were thinking they might have a little rust, but I think they played their best two games of the year during the state tournament."
While Rice complimented Joe's play, Burnett heaped praises on North Little Rock sophomore Moses Moody.
"Moody makes them explosive," Burnett said. "I thought the guys they had coming back were explosive, but Moody adds an extra dimension to their game. I think he can be a really big-time player before his high school career is over. He can do a lot of things. He can post up, he can shoot the three, he attacks the basket well, and he can jump extremely well."
Moore, a 6-4 junior, scored 19 points in the 2017 championship game. Moore led the Charging Wildcats with 35 combined points vs. Bentonville West and Springdale Har-Ber during the state tournament. Moody scored 29 points in those two games.
Joe, who is averaging 23.1 points a game this season, scored 32 points against Bentonville in the quarterfinals and 24 against Fayetteville in the semifinals. Joe missed three games late during the regular season, and the Grizzlies lost two of them.
"It's true that Isaiah got some rest, but I wanted to win a conference championship," Burnett said. "I want it all. With him not being able to play it cost us an opportunity at that. But that's over with. We can't do anything about that. Now we've got to focus on postseason play and I think we've done a good job of that."
At a glance
STATE FINALS SCHEDULE
At Bank of the Ozarks Arena, Hot Springs
CLASS 7A GIRLS
North Little Rock vs. Conway, 2:30 p.m.
CLASS 7A BOYS
North Little Rock vs. Fort Smith Northside, 4:15 p.m.
CLASS 2A GIRLS
Earle vs. Quitman, 6 p.m.
CLASS 2A BOYS
Earle vs. Marked Tree, 7:45 p.m.
CLASS 3A BOYS
McGehee vs. Drew Central, 2:30 p.m.
CLASS 3A GIRLS
Charleston vs. Mountain View, 4:15 p.m.
CLASS 5A BOYS
Little Rock Parkview vs. Mills, 6 p.m.
CLASS 4A GIRLS
Central Arkansas Christian vs. Riverview, 7:45 p.m.
CLASS 6A GIRLS
Jonesboro vs. Greenwood, 11 a.m.
CLASS 6A BOYS
Jonesboro vs. West Memphis, 12:45 p.m.
CLASS 1A GIRLS
Mount Vernon-Enola vs. Wonderview, 2:30 p.m.
CLASS 4A BOYS
Baptist Prep vs. Jonesboro Westside, 4:15 p.m.
CLASS 5A GIRLS
Hot Springs vs. Watson Chapel, 6 p.m.
CLASS 1A BOYS
Izard County vs. Guy-Perkins, 7:45 p.m.
Fort Smith Northside Coach Eric Burnett is shown in this file photo.
Sports on 03/08/2018
Print Headline: NLR wants to wipe away last year