NORTH LITTLE ROCK — Conway basketball teams made a major statement in Arkansas high school basketball Tuesday.
On a foggy night, they muddled the picture.
The Lady Cats and Wampus Cats swept North Little Rock teams, both of whom have achieved national rankings.
The ways they did it were significant.
Trailing by 10 at the beginning of the fourth quarter and with no momentum, the Lady Cats were almost flawless from field and the foul line down the stretch and committed only one turnover in outscoring the Lady Charging Wildcats, 28-13, to win 69-64.
The interesting part is that Conway turned the game around, not with its characteristic pressure defense, but with sharp shooting and superb execution on the half court.
"We have a different type of team this year," said coach Ashley Nance, whose group is 15-1. "In the past when we have fallen behind like that in the fourth quarter, some girls might have just given up or took some bad shots trying to catch up. This team, we go into the fourth quarter and they're saying, 'tell us what to do and we'll fix it.'"
"With their guards and the way our guards are, we knew we had to beat them on the half court."
"They just took it right at us," said North Little Rock coach Daryl Fimple. "They got us in space, hit some 3s, then drove to the basket and we got caught out of position on the drives and got into the bonus early. But they have players who are hard to guard on the drive without fouling."
The Wampus Cats, meanwhile, beat the Charging Wildcats at their own game and worked overtime to do it. They hit from outside, hit the boards, contested shots and did just enough to hold together against North Little Rock's full court press.
"It was about contributions," said CHS coach Salty Longing. "Caleb London got 29 points but I can point to nine other guys who contributed something. It takes everybody with this team. We got something from everybody and still had to go overtime to win by four points 78-74). To win conference, we're gonna have to have contributions from a lot of people."
What was not lost on either coach was this was a road victory in a place that doesn't yield many home losses.
And North Little Rock's arena is expected to be the site of the 7A state tourney when Arkansas Activities Association officials decide on such Thursday."
"This was the first time we have played in this type of game on someone's home court," Nance said.
"This is one of the best atmospheres in Arkansas high school basketball," said Longing. "It's the first game we've faced a team in that type of hostile environment and that kind of atmosphere in the other team's gym."
It's early in the season but put a marker by those two early January games in North Little Rock.,