By his standards, North Little Rock girls’ basketball coach Darryl Fimple had an off year last season. It speaks volumes that going 19-9 and ending their season in the semifinals of the state tournament could be considered an off year.
Fimple had his team playing top-flight competition as he always does, including an impromptu matchup at Paragould. The Lady Rams finished as the 5A runner up. The Lady Charging Wildcats lost the game, but gained perspective and went on to have a solid conference season.
The Lady Charging Wildcats lost a close game to the eventual 7A champions.
"We had a chance to win," Fimple said. "We were young and inexperienced last year."
What Fimple lacked last season that he has had in many previous runs at the state title and national prominence is size and depth. Fimple now has both.
"Not too many coaches are feeling sorry for us for the season we had last season," Fimple said.
But with three players at 6-feet, including sophomore Brogan Jones at 6-feet-4 on the front line and add the experience of guard Malacha Monk and the Lady Charging Wildcats may have enough inside and out to shoot their way back into prominence.
And speaking of, Fimple says he may have the best team of shooters he’s ever had.
"I think we are going to be able to score some points," Fimple said. "A lot of teams say they’ve got good shooters, but I think if you focus on one kid, we’ve got more that can burn you."
Fimple says he could play as many as 10 on any given night.
North Little Rock takes their first test of the season in tournament action at Mt. St. Mary’s when they take on the Sylvan Hills Lady Bears with the scheduled tipoff set for 8:30 p.m.
The Lady Charging Wildcats’ near 20-win season may have been a bit of an off year by their standards, but Fimple expects that his team will bounce back and return to the perch they have become accustomed to sitting over the last several years.