By Nate Olson | Photos by Tommy Land
PINE BLUFF — North Little Rock jumped to a 26-7 lead and never looked back, routing Calvary Baptist (Shreveport, La.) 77-46 on Monday night at the Pine Bluff Convention Center in the opening round of the King Bracket at the King Cotton Classic.
Thirteen players played for North Little Rock and 11 scored. Senior post and Oregon commit Kel’el Ware led the Charging Wildcats with 24 points and 12 rebounds. Classmate Nick Smith, an Arkansas signee, added 19 points. Senior guard Corey Washington chipped in18 points and added six rebounds and two assists. Ty Fredrick contributed seven points.
Smith and Ware get the headlines on the nationally ranked team, but Monday the Charging Wildcats showed their depth.
“[The other players] are actually doing good,” Ware said. “We played well together tonight.”
The Charging Wildcats are playing their second holiday tournament this month. They took sixth in the City of Palms tournament in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., playing some of the premier programs in the country, including IMG Academy. Calvary Baptist is one of the top small schools in Louisiana, and looking ahead NLR could play Cane Ridge (Tenn.), one of the top teams in that state with Alabama signee Brandon Miler, and beyond that, Beaumont, Texas, or Christian Brothers College High School.
Beaumont went 31-0 last season on its way to the Texas Class 5A state championship. CBC is the defending back-to-back Class 5A Missouri state champion.
“It’s exciting playing these teams, and it’s great for the state of Arkansas,” Smith said. “We are representing the state.”
LR Parkview 66, Fort Bend Hightower (Missouri City, Texas) 63
In a nip-and-tuck affair, the Patriots hung on with free throws down the stretch to take the win in the Creed Bracket. A trio of Patriots had 12 points to pace the scoring, including Cameron Wallace, Dallas Thomas and Addison Shelton. Darius Miller added 11. Wallace pulled down four rebounds and added three blocks. Thomas chipped in four rebounds.
The Patriots will play Goose Creek (Baytown, Texas) at 8:15 p.m. Tuesday in a semifinal game.
Goose Creek (Baytown, Texas) 80, De LaSalle (Chicago) 60
Dariyus Woodson poured in 23 points and Sam Bradford had 21 as Goose Creek rolled to an easy win. The Patriots led by seven at halftime and lengthened their lead by outscoring De LaSalle 23-16 in the third quarter. Woodson and Bradford each snagged seven rebounds apiece. Dariyon Williams added 10 points for Goose Creek.
DaJuan Bates, one of the top seniors in the Chicago area, led all scorers with 35 points.
Christian Brothers College (St. Louis, Mo.) 63, Raymond (Miss.) 54
Christian Brothers College was without two starters and its head coach but still managed to get past Raymond (Miss.) 63-54 in the first round of the King bracket.
CBC assistant coach Mike Cross confirmed coach Justin Tatum and star senior guard Larry Hughes Jr. as well as sophomore Nassir Binion missed the game due to COVID-19 protocols. Justin Tatum’s son, Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum, just went on the NBA’s COVID list Monday. Cross, who served as CBC’s interim head coach, said the father and son spent time together last week. He also said the elder Tatum still might make his way to Pine Bluff.
Senior Robert Martin, who is receiving some college interest, shouldered more of the burden, scoring 21 points and dishing out eight assists while collecting four rebounds.
Sophomore Division I prospect John Bol, who stands 7-foot-2, was 7 for 7 from the field and finished with 15 points, 11 rebounds and seven blocks.
Huntington (Shreveport, La.) 51, White Hall 41
White Hall hung around with Huntington into the third quarter but couldn’t make a threatening run in the final period.
Ja’Chaunn Hayes led the Bulldogs with 18 points. Randy Emerson chipped in 10.
DeCedric Webb led Huntington with 14 points.
CBC plays Beaumont (Texas) United Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. Beaumont rolled past Watson Chapel 66-18 on Monday. Terrance Arcenaux led Beamont with 15 points.
Cane Ridge (Antioch, Tenn.) 62, Pine Bluff 57
Brandon Miller, an Alabama signee, hit a three-pointer with 56.5 seconds left to give Cane Ridge a 56-55 lead. Pine Bluff had a chance to take the lead on the next possession but missed two shots. Forced to foul, Cane Ridge padded its lead with a pair of free throws and escaped.
Miller led all scorers with 34 points and grabbed nine rebounds.
Courtney Crutchfield, who gave Pine Bluff the lead before Miller’s shot, scored 23 points to pace the Zebras.
Sylvan Hills 60, Memphis Hutchison 52
Karsyn Morgan poured in a game-high 19 points to lead the Bears to a 60-52 win over Hutchison.
Sylvan Hills led 35-25 at halftime and 56-41 at the end of the third quarter. Despite being outscored 11-4 in the fourth quarter, Sylvan Hills held on for the win.
Jianna Morris chipped in 14 points and Courtney Savell added 11 for the Bears. Jayla Stirgus dished out five assists.