North Little Rock went long to wear down an old rival Saturday night.
The Charging Wildcats used its superior size inside and length on the perimeter to beat visiting Little Rock Parkview 72-57.
Junior Kel'el Ware scored a team-high 16 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and blocked 3 shots for North Little Rock (2-0), which opened its season with a convincing victory over West Memphis on Tuesday before taking over in the fourth quarter against Parkview.
But it was the Charging Wildcats' size that made the difference in this one. Ware, a 6-11 center, and senior Ubong Etim, a 6-8 forward, combined to block eight shots while altering a host of others. Wing players Kelon Jackson, a 6-4 sophomore forward, and Tracy Steele, a 6-3 senior guard, used their length to combine for nine rebounds and six steals.
"We started that really big lineup, and that's the first time we've done that," North Little Rock Coach Johnny Rice said. "We didn't look comfortable at times with it because we really couldn't get it inside offensively the way we wanted in that first half. I didn't think we played together as a team.
"But then we adjusted in the second half and played much better."
Steele finished with 16 points and senior guard D.J. Smith had 13 for the Charging Wildcats, who shot 27 of 51 (52.9%) and held a 36-22 advantage on the glass over the smaller Patriots. Senior forward Mario Frazier came off the bench to score 12 points while Jackson ended with 9 points, 4 rebounds and 3 steals. Etim added 6 points, 8 rebounds and 5 blocks.
North Little Rock did commit 20 turnovers, many of which the Patriots converted into points that helped them hang around in the second and third quarters.
Senior guards Coran Littrell and Keylon Harris had 16 and 14 points, respectively, for Parkview (2-1), which shot 42% (21 of 50) from the field.
The Charging Wildcats opened up an 18-7 lead in the first quarter after outscoring the Patriots 14-2 during a three-minute stretch. Parkview started capitalizing off North Little Rock turnovers in the second quarter to pull within 33-26 by halftime.
The Patriots got as close as 35-31 in the third quarter after a three-pointer from Harris with 4:44 remaining, but a Steele floater started a 7-0 run that put the Charging Wildcats back in control.
"We started reading screens and started trusting each other," Rice said. "Just making the right plays and executing. We didn't take as many shots off the dribble, but it's a learning curve with this group.
"Once we start playing that way consistently, we'll be OK."
Parkview trailed 51-40 until a basket by Ware started an 8-0 run that extended North Little Rock's lead.
The Patriots didn't hit their first field goal of the quarter until Harris knocked down an 8-footer with 3:30 to go in the game. By that time, the Charging Wildcats had built a 62-43 advantage and were on cruise control.