FORT SMITH -- After a second half of ups and downs, Fort Smith Northside finished right where it wanted to be.
The Grizzlies used a strong third quarter to pull away and defeat city rival Southside 79-50 in 6A-Central boys game Friday at the UAFS Stubblefield Center.
More importantly, thanks to Bryant's 49-47 win over Conway, the Grizzlies (19-9, 9-5) get the 6A-Central's second seed and a first-round bye in next week's Class 6A State Tournament at Bryant.
"We've been up and down the last 2-to-3 weeks," Northside coach Eric Burnett said. "Now it is (state) tournament time, and hopefully we can put these struggles we had in conference behind us. Now we just need to concentrate on who we play next."
This will be the last time, for the next two years at least, the two schools will be in the same conference. Northside will stay in the Central for the 2020-22 cycle, while Southside moves to the West. The Grizzlies have now won five straight over the Mavericks and leads the all-time series 78-43.
Northside jumped out to a 21-10 lead after one quarter and Braylin McKinley and J.T. Thorne combined for 11 points in the quarter. Jaylin Williams also had six points, including a 3-pointer with 3 seconds left for the double-digit lead.
"We wanted to try to get Braylin going inside," Burnett said. "We did that and then he also made nice passes to (J.T.) Thorne for some easy baskets as well when J.T.'s man doubled him."
Williams led all scorers with 15 points while Noah Gordon poured in 14, and McKinley and Thorne each added 11.
Gakell Mitchell paced the Mavericks (5-23, 0-14) with 13 points while Jairo Phonesouphan added 10.
Fort Smith Northside 65, Fort Smith Southside 24
The defending 6A champion Lady Bears accomplished something that the program has not done before -- finished with a perfect 14-0 record in the 6A-Central.
Northside (25-3, 14-0) built a 38-14 halftime lead then pulled away in the second half to gain the easy victory over its city rival Southside.
The victory was the 20th consecutive for the Lady Bears, which will have a first-round bye in next week's 6A State Tournament at Bryant. It is also the 23rd straight win over the Mavericks (0-26, 0-14) as Northside now leads the all-time series 64-37.
Tracey Bershers paced Northside with 12 points while Eriel West added 11 as 13 Lady Bears scored in the game.
Lauren Redding scored 5 points to lead the Mavericks. Southside has now lost 53 consecutive games, dating back to the 2017-18 season.
Preps Sports on 02/29/2020
This story was originally published at 1:00 a.m.