FORT SMITH – North Little Rock certainly didn't have a post-Christmas Day letdown here on Thursday.
Arkansas point guard signee Anton Beard had 13 points, 7 steals, 5 assists and 5 rebounds Thursday as he helped lead his Charging Wildcats over Arkadelphia 78-46 in first-round action of the Coke Classic at UAFS' Stubblefield Center.
"He's just playing great for us," North Little Rock head coach Johnny Rice said of the Little Rock Parkview transfer. "He is very vocal on the floor, in the locker room, on the bench. He is a great leader for us and also a great player. He's a joy to coach."
The star-studded North Little Rock squad – which had five transfers come on board this season - moved to 8-1 this season with the only loss being to Little Rock Parkview in the Jammin' for Jackets Tournament in Little Rock.
That ended a 31-game winning streak dating back to last season's Class 7A state championship team winning it's last 27 games.
"We have started to play well together – really the last four games in a row," Charging Wildcats head coach Johnny Rice said. "Parkview beat us and I don't want to take anything away from them, but we have played entirely different since that game. We struggled this summer in team camp, we struggled in our Jamboree and even some of the games that we had won before we got beat.
"It was a matter of playing one-on-one and not getting good shots and not creating shots for anybody else," Rice said. "But we have really done that here lately. I think the loss to Parkview was really good for us. They came out and punched us right in the mouth and we didn't like it. We panicked a little and didn't punch back and tried to do somethings by ourselves and not as a group. But it certainly showed them they had to play together."
North Little Rock junior guard K.J. Hill – one of the state's top football players – and Juwan Eldridge both had 14 points to lead the way in the win while sophomore Adrian Moore added 13.
Ironically, the Charging Wildcats won big without a lot from 6-3 junior KeVaughn Allen, one of the nation's top 2015 prospects.
He was limited to less than five minutes in the first half because of foul trouble and finished the game with seven points.
"That just shows you the versatility that this team has that a great player like KeVaughn can have an off game for him and we still have enough guys that played well and kind of won going away," Rice said. "I am sure he will come back out tomorrow and have a great game."
North Little Rock will play again Friday night at 6 p.m when it faces Texarkana, Texas - whose coach is former Razorback punter Jacob Skinner
In the tournament's opening game Thursday, Springdale down Byrant 64-55 behind 19 points each from junior guards Tereke Eckwood and Chris Owens.
Fort Smith Northside downed Subiaco Academy 85-59 and Texarkana blasted Fort Smith Southside 83-56 in the other first-round games on Thursday.
Beard, NLR Roll Over Arkadelphia
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