Although the North Little Rock Charging Lady Wildcats didn’t finish the season the way they wanted, they still had a successful year.
A 54-48 loss to the Bentonville Lady Tigers in the 7A state quarterfinals last Friday ended the Lady Wildcats’ season. To reach the quarterfinals, they defeated Bryant, 53-35, last Thursday.
"The season went pretty good but just didn’t end the way we wanted," North Little Rock Coach Daryl Fimple said. "(Against Bentonville) We just didn’t shoot very well. When you get to this stage, you have to shoot well."
North Little Rock (22-7) shot 17-of-52 from the field and was outrebounded, 42-30. After opening the game with a 7-1 run, Bentonville ended the quarter with a 13-0 spurt for a 14-7 first-quarter margin. The Lady Wildcats were down by one at the half, and Fimple thought the second half would be different.
"In the first half, we couldn’t get back-to-back baskets and couldn’t get the turnovers to get in a flow," Fimple said. "In the third and fourth quarters, we laid an egg, and they controlled the glass the entire time."
In the victory over Bryant, the Charging Lady Wildcats also didn’t shoot well and were 18-of-48 from the field for a 37.5 average. They were outrebounded, 31-26, but forced 25 turnovers and were 77.8 from the free throw line.
"We had such a huge win over Little Rock Central (Friday, Feb. 28) and our intensity level was high," Fimple said. "Then we had that snow day, and that took us out of our routine. For some reason, it is unexplainable, but we just didn’t have the intensity (in either game)."
Even though North Little Rock didn’t make it further in the state tournament, they shared the conference title which was the seventh time in nine years it was conference champs. The trip to the state tournament was the ninth in a row.
The Lady Wildcats lose two seniors in guard Dajha Hardamon and forward Kiara Webb. Most of the team returns next season and will included some players from the 25-0 ninth grade team.
"Both (seniors) are great kids," Fimple said. "Dajha only lost 20 games in her career and was on lots of winning teams. They have contributed in so many ways."