North Little Rock and Conway engaged in a typical matchup between the two girls basketball powers Tuesday.
That meant a bunch of wild stuff at Buzz Bolding Arena.
"That was interesting; it always is when we play," said North Little Rock coach Daryl Fimple.
"It was crazy," said Conway coach Ashley Nance.
North Little Rock (20-3, 8-1) avenged an earlier home defeat and remained in a first-place tie in 7A Central (with Fort Smith Northside) with a 72-68 victory over the Lady Cats (20-3, 7-2), who fell into third place.
The Lady Charging Wildcats held a double-digit lead most of the second half, then had to hold off a late Conway surge, powered by 3-point flurries by Myia Yelder, Asiyha Smith and Alyssa Netherlain. The Lady Cats, cold in the first half, hit 11 3s, five the fourth quarter.
In the fourth quarter, it was difficult to tell which team held the lead even when the Lady Charging Wildcats were ahead by 12 with 1:52 left, then made it hard on themselves with an assortment of judgment errors, poor time management and turnovers.
"You sure couldn't tell we were winning," said Fimple.
North Little Rock, which led by 15 with 4:59 left, hit 13 of 15 free-throw attempts in the fourth quarter.
Like the first meeting between the teams (a 69-64 Conway victory), North Little Rock led by 11 going into the final quarter.
One big difference this time was NLR post Yo'Myris Morris, who did not play the first game because of an ankle injury. Once the NLR guards, led by Kannady Tucker, loosened the CHS zone from outside, Morris broke loose for 16 points, seven in the final 5:00, many on point-blank layups.
"Our kids got a lot tougher in penetrating their zone and creating shots for Yo'Myris," Fimple said. "We got her active early in creating an advantage inside."
"They killed us on the boards," said Nance. "Having Yo'Myris back was a big factor. "A lot of of times, they got second, third and fourth shots. We had to worry about Yo'Myris so they were able to consistently penetrate our zone. I was proud of the comeback. We are not going to give up; that's our nature. But they are a tough matchup for us."
Conway's guards, particularly Yelder and Smith, gave NLR fits.
"When they get a full head of steam and start attacking, they are hard to stop for any team," Fimple said. "You either have to get straight up and take a charge, but if they get a step on you, they are either gonna get layups or get fouled."
Yelder led the Lady Cats with 24 poins while Smith added 21. Cardrina Nolen and Netherlain added 10. Yelder, Smith and Netherlain each had three 3-pointers, several from NBA range.
Tucker had 16 points for North Little Rock. An'nyah Pettus added 14 points and 13 rebounds coming off the bench in replacing Jordan Neal, who left the game early with an ankle injury.
"We did just enough to win," Fimple said.
"We did not have a good first half shooting," Nance said. "I don't think we've put together four good quarters in any game yet," Nance said, whose team plays at Cabot on Friday and home game against Northside on Tuesday.