North Little Rock overcame a disastrous third quarter. Little Rock Central failed to survive the opening two minutes of overtime.
Senior Shawn Fudge scored 11 of his team-high 17 points in the game's final 7:46 as the Charging Wildcats escaped Tiger Fieldhouse on Friday night with a 67-63 overtime victory in front of a raucous standing-room-only crowd.
The 6A-Central opener was everything the boisterous crowd could have asked for. The teams traded leads five times -- all in the second half -- and neither team held more than a two-point advantage in the final 5:10 of regulation.
The ultimate difference came in the first 95 seconds of overtime. North Little Rock (13-3, 1-0) scored on its first three possessions, while Central (10-3, 0-1) committed back-to-back turnovers on its opening two possessions of the extra period.
"It was just that first minute," Central Coach Brian Ross said. "We played great all night. We fought hard. Both teams gave an incredible effort."
North Little Rock led 16-7 early in the second quarter and 29-21 at the half, but senior guard A.J. Williams helped spark a Central rally that saw the Tigers turn a 31-25 deficit into a 37-31 lead in a span of four minutes.
"I told the guys it's amazing when you pick it up on the defensive end how much better you start moving on the offensive end," North Little Rock Coach Johnny Rice said.
The score was tied 52-52 at the end of regulation.
Senior Collin Moore, who along with teammates Spencer Simes and D.J. Smith scored 10 points each, started the overtime with an offensive rebound that led to two free throws and a 54-52 lead.
Central threw the ball away for its first turnover of overtime, and Simes drove into the lane to hit a 5-footer. On the following possession, the Tigers were called for traveling.
Decorey Watkins hit two free throws at the 2:25 mark for a 60-54 NLR lead. Central was never any closer than three points the remainder of the game.
Williams, who hit two free throws with 26 seconds left in regulation to tie the game at 52-52, finished with 18 points, 14 of which came in the second half. Senior Ray McIntosh scored 13 of his 15 points in the second half. Jakaylyn Jackson added 12 points.
Sports on 01/05/2019
Print Headline: Early OT spurt catapults NLR