Monday, January 9, 2012

Central girls stars sparkle vs. North Little Rock

story from

Beating a nationally ranked program is always a welcome for the Central girls basketball team. But there was something extra to Saturday's 61-53 home win over North Little Rock because of a major subtraction that has the Warriors retooling in midseason.

Junior Nina Davis led all scorers with 27 points, including an 11-for-14 free throw performance created by her willingness to drive to the hoop against North Little Rock's physical front line. Georgia Tech-bound senior Aaliyah Whiteside added 18 points, including three 3-pointers in the first half that helped the Warriors (8-3) to a 31-24 lead at the break.

Central, ranked 12th in the ESPN Fab 50 poll, overcame a 23-point effort by 6-foot center Lexus Williams, who's headed to SMU next year.

The win, the fourth in a row since a loss to last year's state championship opponent, Riverdale, comes two weeks after two-time all-state player Danielle Ballard, an LSU commitment, was dismissed from the squad for what coach Niki Bray called "multiple violation of team rules."

Bray preferred to talk about Davis' and Whiteside's effort against the Chargers (12-2), who came in ranked 27th in the ESPN poll, with their lone loss to Arkansas power Little Rock Parkview.

"Those two have averaged at or near 20 points for us since the change, and they have really stepped up their intensity," said Bray, whose team routed district foe White Station on Friday. "Now we need to get some of our younger kids to step up more."

Whiteside said, "Basically our roles haven't changed any."

But Davis said, "We have to keep pressure on other teams. I know I have to go inside a lot more now."

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