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North Little Rock bounds past Bentonville in second half to complete historic season, lock up Class 6A boys basketball crown

University of Arkansas signee Nick Smith Jr. earned tournament MVP honors and his first state championship of his high school career.

By Jeff Halpern I Photos by Tommy Land

HOT SPRINGS —All year long, the North Little Rock Charging Wildcats answered the bell when challenged.

Thursday night was no different as the Charging Wildcats (28-3) broke open a 32-27 game at halftime with a 65-47 victory over Bentonville (22-9) for the Class 6A state championship before a crowd of 4,237 at Bank OZK Arena.

“All year long, we talked about toughness, and this has to be the toughest team we’ve had,” said North Little Rock head coach Johnny Rice said. “This is a group that had the target on their backs all year, and they set expectations to the point where if we didn’t win by 20, people thought there was something wrong. This team went went places where no other team has gone and I will say this, this is the most dominant team in North Little Rock High School history.”