Late lead lost

Blue Devils fall against three-time Class 7A state champs

By Billy Woods WM School District

NORTH LITTLE ROCK — No KeVaughn Allen. No problem. North Little Rock lost a lot of talent last year and even more in the last three years, but even without super guard KeVaughn Allen the Charging Wildcats were able to defeat West Memphis here Tuesday night 56-44. Allen is currently starring in Gainesville, Fla., for the Florida Gators, thus his high school alma mater is struggling to stay above the .500 mark this season. But against West Memphis, the Cats got the magic touch in the fourth quarter from junior guard B.J. Walker, who drained four three-pointers in the final eight minutes, to make the big difference in the game. “That was the game right there,” West Memphis head coach Larry Bray said of Walker’s long-distance shooting. “He stepped up at clutch time and made some big shots.” After North Little Rock (9-8 overall, 3-2 in the 7A/6A-East Conference) threatened to run the Blue Devils (9-8, 2-3) in the first half, the visitors made a game of it. NLR ran out to a 23-10 lead with 3:59 to play in the second quarter behind a manic full-court press and a smothering, active man-to-man in the half court. It resulted in 19 Blue Devil turnovers for the game. Still, the visitors clawed back into it and trailed only 28-24 at halftime. “I told our kids before the game that this will be a game of runs tonight,” said Bray. “We just gotta do a better job of handling the pressure. We made some bad decisions with the ball tonight.” It looked promising for West Memphis when with 5:39 to play in the fourth quarter, Tevin Mosley stuck back a missed shot to give the Blue Devils a 39-34 lead. That did nothing but signal the start of Walker’s shooting spree. He immediately hit one to make it a two-point game and with 3:26 to play he drained a triple to give North Little Rock the lead for good at 44-41. “He’s got the green light to shoot,” North Little Rock head coach Johnny Rice said of Walker. “He hit five threes in a game against (Little Rock) Parkview earlier this season.” Walker added two more, the last of which came with 2:03 to play giving his team a 50-42 lead. Adrian Moore paced the winners with 19 points, 14 of which came in the first half. Walker scored 14 and Morris Talbert tallied nine. West Memphis got nine points from Ahmere Albert while Mosley stuck in seven and Robert Harris scored six. The Blue Devils will return home Friday night to play Mountain Home.

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