FORT SMITH (KFSM)-- The Grizzlies lost their last two regular season games and a big reason why was because of who they had to play without, their senior leader Isaiah Joe.
"Isaiah is the leader," said Eric Burnett. "That affected them seeing him go out you know I think that's why we kind of struggled those last two games."
Joe sat out those two games due to a knee injury. It was tough on him not being able to help his team.
"It was definitely hard especially not to play against Southside, our rival team." said Isaiah Joe. "But you know I had to think about the positives and being able to play in the tournament."
But, the future Razorback returned to full health just in time for tournament play. He dropped a combined 56 points in both 7A tournament victories to lead the Grizzlies back to the state title game.
"You could just see how the whole style of play for us was totally different," said Northside senior Javion Perkins. "You know with him just being in the atmosphere was definitely great."
While Joe is the top scorer for Northside, averaging 24-points per game, his coach and teammates say it's his leadership on and off the court that has helped the Grizzlies make it back to Hot Springs.
"They just work well together and that's credit to Isaiah he's got everyone coming together. He doesn't say much sometimes but when he needs to he will, but they just sit back and watch him work."
Northside face North Little Rock Thursday at 4:15 p.m.