The North Little Rock Lady Charging Wildcats hadn’t played in three weeks. According to head coach Daryl Fimple, it was by design.
What wasn’t by design was the blizzard of 2012. After nearly a foot of snow hit the state, Fimple decided to forgo participation in the Mountain Home tournament on Thursday.
So with the possibility of no competition for nearly a month, Fimple needed a game. It didn’t take long to find one, or actually the game found Fimple.
Paragould head coach Jay Cook was in the same situation. The weather had kept his Lady Rams from going to Mountain Home, and the Lady Rams needed a game.
The result was a matchup between the Charging Lady Wildcats and the defending 5A state runner up Rams.
Paragould’s hot shooting in the first half pushed North Little Rock into a deficit they couldn’t overcome.
"Jay’s got a good team over there," Fimple said after North Little Rock’s 63-55 loss.
The Lady Rams hit seven from behind the three-point line in the first half.
North Little Rock kept the contest close and was within one after the first quarter at 14-13. Paragould’s Rachel Dicus and Carson Gill provided the bulk of the offense for Paragould in the opening period, hitting three 3-pointers.
Paragould’s hot shooting negated North Little Rock’s press in the second quarter though the Lady Charging Wildcats found some success. Sasha Giles who had nine first half points got three on a steal and breakaway bucket and a free throw.
"That’s our best lineup," Fimple said. "We go with four guards and have a freshman at the four."
But with 4:23 to play in the third and the Lady Rams’ lead reduced to just three, Gill took matters into her own hand. Taking the ball on the inbound, she drove the length of the floor, got the layup and the free throw to extend Paragould’s advantage back to six at 43-37.
North Little Rock got even closer thanks to Kyra Collier’s three that sliced the deficit to just two at 44-42. Collier led North Little Rock with 13 points.
Savannah Walker’s putback plus a bucket by Hailey Rogers on a baseline drive and a free throw gave the Lady Rams some breathing room at 49-42 going into the fourth quarter.
North Little Rock’s defense kept pushing in the fourth. Malica Monk’s steal and breakaway with 2:55 to go put the Lady Charging Wildcats to within two at 57-55 prompting Cook to call timeout.
The Lady Rams then became more deliberate and patient on offense.
North Little Rock couldn’t hit shots inside to get any closer, and Gill’s two free throws with 43 seconds to go sealed the win. The Lady Charging Wildcats missed four straight shots under the basket.
The conference season is now in tow for North Little Rock with a rematch in their opener with Cabot.