There was no doubt about it, Tuesday's game was essential for the Northside Lady Bears to keep their flickering hopes of a 7A-Central title going.

The Lady Bears, who lost in double overtime at home to Little Rock Central last week, knew they could ill afford to get swept by Conway, as both of those teams came in tied for third in the conference. Not to mention a trip on the horizon to first-place North Little Rock on Friday.

Consider that test passed. Behind a career-high 33 points from senior Topazia Hawkins, the Lady Bears still have a say in the conference race after getting a 73-64 win against Conway at Kaundart-Grizzly Fieldhouse.

"It was (a must-win situation) and we can't take any more losses at home," Hawkins said.

Hawkins had 11 points in the fourth quarter as Northside (15-9, 8-3) broke a 44-44 tie score entering that period. She also drew two charges in that span.

The Lady Bears also got a boost from fellow senior Melanie Smith, who had 12 points, all coming on four 3-point baskets. Her biggest 3 capped a 7-1 run to start the fourth, giving Northside a 51-45 advantage with less than six minutes remaining.

"I just tried to help my team the best way I can, which is shooting," Smith said. "I was open, I squared up and shot it and it went in."

Conway (20-7, 7-4) got no closer than four points the rest of the way. Hawkins then took her two charges, which set up her scoring baskets both times on the other end, the latter extending the Lady Bear lead to nine, 57-48.

The Lady Bears eventually got that advantage into double digits, leading by as many as 12 points, 71-59, after Maegan Bandimere hit a pair of free throws in the final minute.

"This was about as good as we've played all year, for 32 minutes, and I thought our kids played under control," Northside coach Rickey Smith said.

"We shot the ball well, that's the most points we've scored against a quality opponent (this season). I thought Pae Pae Hawkins was amazing, played under control (Tuesday). I thought the spark for us, though, was Melanie Smith; she came off the bench and hit big 3s and competed."

Tuesday's win was an emotional one for another reason, as Rickey Smith and the Lady Bears dedicated it to the memory of Amanda Stem, the mother of former Northside player Shaylee Stem, who passed away earlier that day.

Also in double figures for the Lady Bears was junior Aniya Webster, who had 15 points. Her jumper early in the fourth broke the 44-all score, putting Northside ahead to stay. Then Northside made it 48-44 after senior Fatarah Kinnard took a charge, which set up Bandimere finding Hawkins inside for a basket.

Northside 64, Conway 52

BOYS – Before an upcoming two-game gauntlet of North Little Rock and Cabot, the two teams the Grizzlies are chasing for the 7A-Central title, they had to take care of business at home on Tuesday.

Northside trailed Conway at halftime before going on a 29-7 second-half run to eventually roll to the win.

The run started with the Grizzlies (18-6, 9-2) getting the lead for good on a 3-pointer from Tevin Brewer. DeMichael Whitfield followed with a 3 of his own on the next possession; then Brewer hit another 3 to give Northside a 41-34 lead late in the third quarter.

Conway (13-11, 5-6) got within three, 43-40, early in the fourth. But Isaiah Joe knocked down a 3, starting an 18-1 run.

Joe hit two more 3s in that stretch, and Tre Norwood capped it by converting a three-point play with 1:47 remaining, which extended Northside's lead to 20, 61-41.

For the game, Joe finished with 24 points and made five 3s. Brewer added 21 points, making three 3s, while recording seven assists.