If the Rumble on the Ridge in Forrest City is any indication, it appears there may be no stepping back when it comes to the North Little Rock basketball program this season.
Tournament MVP KeVaughn Allen scored 23 of his 25 points in the opening half and Arkansas point guard signee Anton Beard had 11 of his 15 points in the first quarter alone as the Charging Wildcats overwhelmed Jonesboro 68-41 in the title game on Saturday night.
They did so with Razorback head coach Mike Anderson and assistant Melvin Watkins – just back from the Maui Invitational - looking on in a game North Little Rock led 43-15 in the second quarter.
"We hit like 20-26 shots in the first half and were 8-of-8 from the 3-point line so really at that point I was just thinking about what I needed to say at halftime," Charging Wildcats head coach Johnny Rice said. "We had a 16-point lead the night before we almost let get away so I just wanted them know we had to keep playing and not start celebrating too early."
Sophomore Adrian Moore added 10 points and joined Allen and Beard on the All-Tournament team for North Little Rock (3-0), the defending 7A state champion whose program has now won 30 straight games dating back to last season.
"I knew that Jonesboro – being such a great team – was not going to just lay down and they would come back after us in the second half with some fight and that's just what happened," Rice said. "I was very proud of how our guys played and competed and worked together all weekend."
Allen hit all 5 of his 3-pointers before halftime for North Little Rock, who whipped Wynne 77-58 on Thursday and Huntsville, Ala., Lee 77-72 on Friday to reach the championship game.
He already has some 10 offers including ones from Arkansas, UConn, Kansas, Florida, Baylor and others.
"KeVaughn was named the MVP and just played great all weekend," Rice said. "He is an average to above average shooter – which my sound funny since he made eight in a game last season and made five in this game," Rice said. "But he can get streaky sometimes and just really get on a roll and that's what he did in the championship game.
"The one thing we wanted him to do was really be more assertive on the court his season vocally and he did a good job of that this weekend," Rice said. "His play on the court has never been an issue."
Beard – who signed with Arkansas last month - also had 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals in his team's win.
His 11 first-quarter points sparked the Charging Wildcats, who led 22-8 at the end of the first quarter and 50-22 at intermission.
"He also played great this weekend and I think really played more like a point guard in the third game with Coach Anderson watching than the other two games," Rice said. "He can just score and create for others in so many ways and has really taken to being the leader of this team on and off the court."
Jonesboro junior guard Marquise Pointer – a prospect that Arkansas is recruiting but has not offered yet – had 20 points to lead the Hurricane while Lehigh signee Kharon Ross had just six with Beard guarding him.
"Anton really got us going in the Jonesboro game both offensively and defensively," Rice said. "We wanted to go best against best so we matched Anton up with Ross and KeVaughn up with Pointer. I think they both really answered the challenge."
Moore, a 6-4, 180-pound transfer from Conway, also made an impression on Rice.
"He is playing out of position for us, playing the three and actually starting at the four before moving back to the 3 when (6-10) Sam (Dunkum) comes in off the bench," Rice said. "But he is doing a great job playing defense, rebounding and shooting his mid-range jumper for us....Sam is coming in and getting rebounds and blocking shots for us and getting better."
North Little Rock will play in the Battle of the Border Friday and Saturday with games against Memphis Melrose and Memphis Raliegh Egypt.
• • •
Forrest City's 6-10, 250-pound senior center Trey Thompson, the other Arkansas' signee playing in the event, had 20 points, 7 rebounds and 4 steals in his team's 70-59 loss to Little Rock Hall on Saturday in the fifth-place game of the eight-team event.
• • •
Arlington, Texas, Martin's Nick Babb – the third member of the Razorbacks' 2014 signing class – is averaging 11 points per game for his 4-2 team.
Babb had a season-high 19 points in his season-opener and has one lop-sided game where he just scored three points.
KeVaughn Allen, Anton Beard, Adrian Moore
A Rewarding Rumble
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