SPORTS >>Falcons close with two big wins, slide into third place
By RAY BENTON
Leader sports editor
season strong, getting two big wins over Wynne and Paragould to close out the season 15-10 overall and 9-5 in conference play. The Falcons beat Wynne 68-45 at home, then knocked off Paragould 88-63 Thursday in Greene County.
The two wins assured the Falcons of the league’s No. 3 seed in next week’s state tournament at Greene County Tech, although the Falcons would have locked up the three spot even with a loss since Wynne fell to Tech in its finale Thursday.
The Lady Falcons also battled hard, but came up just short of getting their first win in conference play, falling to the Lady Rams 42-38.
The Lady Falcons trailed 36-24 at the end of three quarters, but turned it on in the fourth. North Pulaski rallied to within 37-34, but could get no closer.
The loss dropped the NP ladies to 3-21 overall and 0-14 in conference play.
Paragould improved to 11-15 overall and 7-7 in conference.
In the boys game, the Falcons took control in the third quarter. They led by 10 at halftime, but stretched that lead to 21 points at 59-38 by the start of the fourth quarter. Senior guard Quinn Cooper led five Falcons in double figures Thursday night in Paragould. He finished with 17 points. Cliff Harrison added 14. Ridge Williams and DaQuan Bryant each scored 12 while Aaron Cooper added 10.
Casey Flippo led the Rams with 17 points. Alex Garmrath added 16 and Brady Herbert chipped in 10.
Earlier in the week the Falcons set the tone for a big finish by blowing out the Wynne Yellowjackets, something no team has done this year.
The Falcons broke open a close halftime score by scoring 26 points in the third quarter. Most of the buckets came in transition after Wynne missed long jumpers.
North Pulaski showed a matchup zone for the first time this season in the third quarter, and it greatly disrupted the Wynne offense.
“We hadn’t done that all year and it really bothered them,” NP coach Raymond Cooper said. “They started taking long-range shots. We were rebounding and running and we got up on them pretty good. You can’t do that without hustle and we were hustling. It was good to see us playing like that heading into the state tournament.”
Leading the way for the Falcons in Tuesday’s win was senior guard Quinn Cooper, who finished with 20 points.
Finishing strong was a key issue for North Pulaski after losing to Blytheville Saturday in a makeup game. The team responded to Cooper’s challenges.
“We talked about getting that third seed,” Cooper said. “We wanted to avoid playing a No. 1 right off the bat. After we beat Wynne, we talked about just finishing strong and heading into this thing on a high note.”
North Pulaski begins play in the state tournament in Pragould at 2:30 p.m. Thursday against Arkadelphia. The Badgers finished second in the 5A-Southwest behind Pulaski Academy.