Eric Burnett, the Northside Grizzlies’ coach, wanted his team to start strong out of the gate Friday against city rival Southside.
The Grizzlies did just that, as they built a double-digit lead early on and proceeded to take care of business against Southside, winning 77-58 Friday night at the Stubblefield Center.
“We did (have a good start), and I was a little worried about that, and so we did come out and have a good start,” Burnett said. “I was glad to see us jump out there and play some defense instead of just that ‘matador’ defense where you just kind of let them go to the basket.”
Northside (16-5, 6-1 6A-Central) started to build a sizable lead in the early goings of the contest.
Senior forward Jaylin Williams completed a three-point play for a 9-2 lead, and then followed that up with a slam for an 11-2 advantage.
Moments later, Grizzly senior Garrett Keller fed junior teammate Jacob Joe for a 3-point shot from the right corner. Keller then received a pass of his own near the basket, coming from Williams, and Keller completed the easy finish for a 16-2 Grizzly lead six minutes into affairs.
“I thought the game plan was to get Jaylin and Braylin (McKinley, a senior forward) involved early because of their height, and so I thought both of them did a really good job,” Burnett said. “Normally, it’s been Jaylin but Braylin has stepped up and become an offensive guy the last couple of games and that was so exciting to see because the kid works so hard; I’m glad he’s trying to reward himself when he gets out onto the court.”
The Grizzlies continued to remain in control in the second quarter.
Noah Gordon dunked one home, and Joe followed that up with another 3 as Northside doubled the score, leading 30-15 with more than three minutes left until halftime. The Grizzlies eventually led by 19 at the break, 42-23, when Williams completed a tip-back in the waning seconds.
Northside kept contolling things in the second half as the Grizzlies were able to empty their bench and give the reserves ample playing time. They ended the game with another dunk, this one coming from Jordan Wright.
Williams led all scorers with 23 points, 16 of which came before halftime. He also finished with 13 rebounds while adding two 3-pointers, two blocks and five assists.
Keller was in double figures as well with 11 points.
“That guy (Keller) is doing pretty dang good and I’m glad he’s beginning to step up, too, and play,” Burnett said. “What’s so crazy is that when people see him, he can do so much more, he really is.
“He’s a phenomenal player and I’m just glad to see that’s beginning to come out.”
The Mavericks (5-16, 0-7) got 12 points from Gakell Mitchell, who went 10-of-12 from the free-throw line. Mykale Franks added 11 points as well.
Northside remains in second place in the 6A-Central through the first half of conference play, one game back of North Little Rock, which defeated Cabot on Friday.
Both Northside and Southside will be off until next Friday, when the second half of 6A-Central play commences. The Grizzlies will travel to Bryant while Southside will be at home to face Conway.
Northside 56, Southside 27
GIRLS — Early on, the Mavericks took the fight to the 6A-Central leaders.
A pair of 3-pointers from Lauren Redding gave Southside a 6-3 lead. Then the pace picked up between the city rivals.
Both teams combined to shoot for seven 3's inside the first few minutes of the opening quarter. There was also not a single foul called in that first quarter as the Lady Bears and Mavericks traded shots.
After Northside went in front, Southside closed to within two points, 13-11, on a 3 from Shielo Laranjo.
The Lady Bears, though, used a 13-2 run from there to build a 26-13 lead early in the second quarter and methodically extended it the remainder of the night.
Northside (18-3, 7-0) took a 35-20 lead at halftime and then started the second half on a 9-0 run, starting with two foul shots and a 3 from Tracey Bershers. Jersey Wolfenbarger darted inside for a finishing shot, and Eriel West delivered a layup in transition as the Lady Bears led 44-20 en route to their 13th straight win.
“Give Southside a lot of credit; they shot the ball well,” Northside coach Rickey Smith said. “They played hard and we were proud of our effort also.
“We got a chance to work on some different defenses (Friday). ... I thought our kids came out and shared the ball well, it’s just one of those deals where we’re proud to be 7-0, proud of where we’re at. We had a couple of kids banged up, and we’re just trying to get healthy, but I was proud of Southside, I really was; I thought they competed really, really hard.”
Bershers finished with 19 points and also hit three 3's, while Wolfenbarger had 15 points. Both Bershers and Wolfenbarger combined to score 25 of the Lady Bears’ 35 first-half points.
Ari Rice was the top scorer for Southside (0-19, 0-7) with nine points....