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3/30/2020

For the second time in the last three seasons, a Northside Grizzly basketball player was selected as the Gatorade Arkansas Boys Basketball Player of the Year. In its 35th year of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes, The Gatorade Company on Thursday announced Jaylin Williams as its 2019-20 Gatorade Arkansas Boys Basketball Player of the Year. Williams is the second Gatorade Arkansas Boys Basketball Player of the Year to be chosen from Northside High School. In 2018, current University of Arkansas standout Isaiah Joe was selected for the honor. ...

3/27/2020

With the exception of one game, Northside’s offense has been scoring runs in bunches already this season. The Lady Bears did it again at home on Tuesday. Northside scored all its runs in three innings, and junior pitcher Cailin Massey was certainly a beneficiary of that support as she tossed a perfect game as the Lady Bears defeated Springdale, 15-0, at Grizzly Field. In the three wins the Lady Bears (3-1) have had, they have been averaging more than 15 runs per game. The one loss, though, they scored just one run against Fayetteville. “The girls have really worked hard at being selective on pitches and getting pitches that they can drive, and they’ve done a really good job of that,” Northside coach David Little said. “We need to keep getting better, but so far they’ve really done a good job.” The Lady Bears didn’t take very long to get going, as Massey led off the bottom of the first with a double and scored on an RBI single from the next batter, Aleigha Harrison. Harrison then came around to score on a passed ball to make it 2-0. Northside added five more runs in the second. Harrison had another RBI single, while Meegan Jones and Chloe Ray each had two-run singles. The Lady Bears put it away in the third, enforcing the run-rule in the process. Danessa Teague had a two-run double, Ray another two-RBI single and Hannah Entrekin had a two-run single as well. “We haven’t struck out a lot; we’ve put the ball in play and even with two strikes, we buckle down and compete and we just try to make contact and put the ball in play and maybe good things will happen,” Little said. “We’re limiting strikeouts and taking what the pitcher gives us, and it’s been successful so far.” Massey retired the side in order each of the three innings she pitched. Of those nine consecutive outs, seven were strikeouts as Massey ended up throwing just 42 pitches. “Cailin’s a really, really good solid pitcher and a good batter; she’s been playing travel ball her whole life and I would say as Cailin goes, the Lady Bears go,” Little said. “We rely on her a lot, but most of the time she comes through.” Massey also went 3-for-3 with two doubles and three runs scored. Ray was 3-for-3 as well. Both Teague and Harrison each went 2-for-2 with a pair of RBIs. Harrison scored three runs, and Teague doubled twice and scored a pair of runs. The Lady Bears are scheduled to compete in the Clarksville Tournament Friday and Saturday....

3/11/2020

So far, so good for the Northside Lady Bears soccer squad. The Lady Bears continued their dominant start to the early goings in the season as they posted their third consecutive shutout win on Friday. Northside got goals in both halves as the Lady Bears went on to a 2-0 win in the opening round of the Fort Smith Invitational soccer tournament Friday afternoon at Southside’s Jim Rowland Stadium. In three games already this season, the Lady Bears (3-0) have defeated their foes by an aggregate total of 24-0. That included a 15-goal showing in last week’s opener against Poteau. Goals were at a premium in Northside’s latest win. But with the defense continuing to perform stellar, the Lady Bears necessarily didn’t need to score a lot. Northside did have some chances to score in the opening half as the Lady Bears were able to control possession. Finally, the Lady Bears broke through on a goal from senior Cassandra Cervantes. That 1-0 lead held up until halftime. It was more of the same in the second half, as Northside continued to have several shot opportunities but were unable to extend the lead. Then, the Lady Bears were finally able to enjoy insurance as Brianna Lopez snuck one through the net for the pivotal two-goal lead. Lopez, a sophomore, was coming off a four-goal performance in Tuesday’s win at Van Buren. Northside then finished off its third straight shutout. Another indication of the dominant defensive performance was the fact that Springdale didn’t get a single shot on goal. In contrast, the Lady Bears finished with 11 shots on goal. Northside’s boys played late Friday night in its first-round Fort Smith Invitational game, playing DeQueen at Mayo-Thompson Stadium. The Fort Smith Invitational continues on Saturday beginning at 8:30 a.m. with games at both Northside and Southside. The finals are scheduled to get under way at 7 p.m....

3/9/2020

In a 6A State Tournament bracket already stocked with upsets, another one unfolded Saturday afternoon at Hornet Arena. Unfortunately for the defending 6A state champion Northside Grizzlies, they were the latest to unexpectedly fall short. Little Rock Central, mainly playing a deliberate style of basketball, took the lead late in the third quarter and kept it the rest of the way, fighting off a late Grizzly charge to post a 40-37 upset win in the 6A semifinals. “That’s why they toss that ball up. ... Those guys came out and made plays, they made plays when they had to make a play, and they did,” Northside coach Eric Burnett said. “They did (have a great game plan to slow down the game) and they made us panic in the first half. They came out stalling the ball and we panicked. ... The second half, we kind of relaxed a little bit and played catch-up the whole time, but (Central) had a good game plan and I give them credit.” And now Central (18-12), the No. 4 seed from the 6A-Central which knocked out Springdale Har-Ber in the quarterfinals, is moving on to the 6A title game next Saturday night in Hot Springs. The Tigers will play the winner of Saturday night’s other semifinal between Fayetteville and Conway, which upset 6A-Central North Little Rock in Friday’s quarterfinals. Saturday’s loss also ended the Grizzlies’ bid for a fourth straight trip to Hot Springs. They won the 7A championship there in 2017 and the 6A championship last season, while reaching the 7A title game in 2018. “It’s like I told those guys, Isaiah (Joe), Tevin Brewer got this started and I give these seniors credit for keeping it going and now they’re passing the torch to (the underclassmen), and now it’s time for our next group to come up,” Burnett said. “There are a lot of people across the state of Arkansas, and to my opinion in the toughest conference at the highest level, that have never had (a run) like that; so I told (the players) they need to hold their head up high when they walk out of this room.” The Tigers, who lost to Northside by 19 points in both regular-season conference games, came out in a stall tactic. They ran the first 2:30 off the clock before attempting a shot. Though the Grizzlies took a five-point lead early in the second quarter, the Tigers continued to show patience. They clawed back with an 11-3 run to end the first half with a 22-17 advantage. Northside (20-10) answered right out of the gate after halftime with an 8-0 run, which included a pair of driving shots from senior Garrett Keller, to regain the lead, 25-22. But Central responded with an 8-0 run of its own. The Tigers then built a seven-point lead, 37-30, on a 3-pointer from Cody Robinson with 5:40 remaining. Northside didn’t go away. The Grizzlies got to within two, 37-35, when Keller hit a foul shot with 58 seconds left. Central went back up by four with 29 seconds left on a pair of free throws from Corey Camper. The Tigers then had a chance to build the lead even more after grabbing a missed Grizzly shot, but missed two foul shots. With 4.4 seconds left, Grizzly senior Maury Owens drew a foul. He went to the line and hit both for a two-point Northside deficit. Central’s Christian Price was fouled on the other end with 2.5 seconds left, and hit 1-of-2 foul shots, which left the door open for the Grizzlies. The Grizzlies got the ball in the hands of their leading scorer, Jaylin Williams, who received a long pass from Keller before immediately turning around and launching a shot from beyond the arc. However, the ball hit the back of the rim and bounced away as time expired. ?(Williams got a good look at the basket), and you know it happens like that sometimes; some go in and some don’t, and it’s just part of life and in the game of basketball,” Burnett said. “Basketball is a game of spurts, and they had theirs and we had ours and at the end, they had one more than us and that’s why they won by three.” In his final game of his tremendous career as a Grizzly, Williams — a University of Arkansas commit — finished with 17 points and also grabbed 13 rebounds. Central’s top scorer was senior guard Jeremiah Jones with 13 points, which included three first-half 3's....

3/8/2020

Jersey Wolfenbarger certainly had a Friday to remember. Not only did the Northside junior help the Lady Bears to a 6A quarterfinal win, earlier in the day she received more good news. Wolfenbarger, a 6-foot-4 point guard, was named the Gatorade Arkansas Girls Basketball Player of the Year for the 2019-20 season. “It’s definitely an honor you know,” Wolfenbarger said. “I think it’s the result of all the hard work I’ve put in the past couple of years. “But I think my teammates have done a really good job at helping me be that leader I want to be and helping me at just getting into position to produce and play hard and obviously play close to my best every night.” Wolfenbarger said she didn’t even know she received that honor until being informed Friday morning by her mother, Megan Wolfenbarger. “My mom actually found out (Friday) and she told me when I woke up. ... So I had no idea until she told me,” Jersey Wolfenbarger said. A three-year starter and the MVP of the 2019 6A tournament her sophomore season, Wolfenbarger leads the Lady Bears in scoring with 18.7 points per game prior to the 6A State Tournament. She has scored at least 20 points in 16 games this season, including 20 points in Friday’s 6A quarterfinal win against Bryant and 21 in Saturday’s 6A semifinal loss to Fayetteville. Wolfenbarger was also averaging six rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.5 steals per game. Like Wolfenbarger, her coach was just as surprised that Wolfenbarger was named the state’s top player. “That was a shocker,” Northside coach Rickey Smith said. “She is very deserving and is just a great player and I think we’re very blessed to have Jersey on the team. ... It’s a prestigious honor and I’m very proud for her.” Off the court, Wolfenbarger possesses a 4.08 grade-point average. She is also very active in the community, volunteering at a local homeless shelter, the Salvation Army and youth basketball programs. Wolfenbarger is ranked as the nation’s No. 19 recruit in the Class of 2021 by ESPN, with several of the country’s top college programs already inquiring about her services. But Wolfenbarger, whose last-second jump shot gave Northside the win in last season’s 6A championship game, at the moment is focusing on continuing to improve her game. ?(I’ve been) just focusing on the little things. ... I’ve just been trying to do my best every day and trying to work extremely hard and focus on the things I can control,” she said....

3/8/2020

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