Wednesday, January 02, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Wildcats win Coke Classic

Leader sports editor

The North Little Rock boys continue to stake their claim to being the best team in Arkansas. The latest achievement was winning the prestigious Coca Cola Classic tournament at the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith. The Wildcats broke the century mark for the first time this season in the championship game, hammering Springdale High School 103-77.

The Bulldogs (8-5) bothered North Little Rock early in the game. The Wildcats managed to shoot just better than 30 percent, but that changed early in the second quarter and never changed back.

North Little Rock wasn’t on pace for 100 after one period, leading Springdale 20-17. Just two minutes into the second quarter, the lead was 10 and just kept growing from there.

North Little Rock (12-1) led 47-32 at halftime and was up 75-55 after three quarters. Springdale ran with the Wildcats effectively most of the time, but didn’t have the weapons to keep up entirely.

The dynamic trio of point guard Dayshawn Watkins, two guard Kevaughn Allen and forward Thomas Alexander has become one of, if not the, most potent combinations in the state. Allen led the way with 31 points in Saturday’s championship game. Alexander scored 23 and Watkins dropped in 20.

“We shot the ball unbelievably,” North Little Rock coach Johnny Rice told the Southwest Times-Record. “Our three guys scoring 30-, 20, 20 and shooting the way we shot it. We just had everything clicking on offense.”

Watkins was named the tournament’s most valuable player while Allen and Alexander made the All-Tournament team.

North Little Rock beat Bryant 81-60 and Fort Smith Northside 62-50 to advance to Saturday’s championship game.

Springdale had scarcely been tested in the two previous rounds. The Bulldogs hammered Subiaco Academy 66-34 in the first round, then smashed Fort Smith Southside 66-42 in the semifinals.

Southside beat Northside 51-47 to earn third place.

North Little Rock opens conference play in the 7A/6A East on the road at Cabot on Friday.