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Grizzlies' victory safe after late steal

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Photographs by Stephen B. Thornton

Fort Smith Northside players celebrate with the Class 7A championship trophy Saturday after beating North Little Rock 50-49 at Bank of the Ozarks Arena in Hot Springs. For more photos, visit arkansasonline.com/galleries.

HOT SPRINGS -- The first last-second steal was foiled, but a second worked out perfectly for Fort Smith Northside.

Guard Tevin Brewer (3) drives to the basket for two of his 18 points in Fort Smith Northside’s victory over North Little Rock on Saturday. Brewer also...

Senior Tevin Brewer stripped the ball from North Little Rock's Shawn Fudge, then chased it down to keep it from going out of bounds as time expired Saturday to give the Grizzlies a thrilling 50-49 victory over the Charging Wildcats in the Class 7A boys championship game.

Brewer had hit a free throw with 12.8 seconds remaining to give Northside its one-point advantage. On North Little Rock's ensuing possession, Northside's Tre Norwood picked up a steal but was called for traveling with 6.8 seconds left, giving North Little Rock another chance to pull out the victory.

Instead, the Charging Wildcats never got the opportunity. Brewer took advantage of an errant pass, tapped the ball toward the sideline and had the awareness and speed to keep the ball from going out of bounds.

Brewer credited teammate Isaiah Joe with helping him force the last of North Little Rock's 18 turnovers.

"I saw Isaiah cut one of their players off and it forced their player to throw the ball behind his back," said Brewer, who finished with 18 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists. "I felt like that was the perfect opportunity to jump for the steal. And when the ball was going out of bounds, I knew I had to hustle for it, dive and keep it in bounds."

Once the ball headed back toward the middle of the court, Northside's players rushed the court in celebration of their first state title since 2007.

"I'm surprised I didn't get a technical for that," Northside Coach Eric Burnett said. "Because I had jumped on the court, too."

North Little Rock senior Jarvis Ricks had hit a layup with 47.1 seconds left to tie the game at 49-49. Charging Wildcats Coach Johnny Rice said he was hoping Ricks would get another opportunity at the end of the game.

"I thought we had time to get to the rim and make something happen," Rice said. "We didn't have to settle for a jump shot. I thought we could get the ball into Jarvis' hands and dive Deion [Dobbins] and Collin [Moore] inside for them to kick it out or get the rebound. [Northside] did a great job of taking Jarvis away. It was just a train wreck from that point on."

"That was huge," Burnett said. "Tevin saw [Fudge] spin and he didn't have to be told to go get that basketball and use his quickness and basketball IQ. He came up with it and made the play for us to win the game."

It was the last of eight steals for Northside.

"For us to not let them have a shot, that was huge for us," Burnett said. "Really, that's what won the game for us, not letting them have a shot."

Sports on 03/12/2017

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