Things couldn’t have been more tense between Northside and Southside on Mar. 8th.
The two Fort Smith high schools were battling for the 7A state championship, in overtime no less.
Northside’s Lady Bears pulled out a 51-46 win and the school held a pep rally to honor the school’s sixth championship victory in the past 15 years. Northside finished with a 27-4 record.
“It felt amazing,” senior Kilah Cummings said. “I was glad that we got that ring. That’s what we’ve been waiting on that whole time, our senior year going out really good.”
Tournament MVP Bria Caldwell says beating Southside was a great way to end the season.
“You always want to beat your crosstown rival,” she said.
The Lady Bears were state runner-ups the past two years. Coach Rickey Smith didn’t want to make it three.
“As a coach, I didn’t know really what I was going to say back in the locker room for three years in a row coming up a game short, but thankfully we didn’t have to go through that,” Smith said.
Caldwell says this team is all about having fun.
“We spell ‘fun’ — W-I-N.”
Not only were the Lady Bears successful on the basketball court this year, these young ladies also excelled in the classroom.
“Our team grade point average is a cumulative 3.3,” Smith said. “Our attendance rate for school is 97 percent.”
The team will have to make some adjustments since Caldwell and Cummings are among six seniors graduating this year. Coach Smith says the team is ready to get back to work.
“There is a few kids, few athletes, across the country that do win a state championship,” he said. “There’s even a fewer group of students that win back-to-back state championships. So you lay the challenge down. You start working for next year.”