Saturday, December 22, 2007

SPORTS >>Bears get back at Hornets in thriller

Leader sportswriter

Sylvan Hills went into the holiday break on a strong note with a sweep over visiting Oak Grove on Thursday night at the SHHS gymnasium. The boys game ended up with a dramatic conclusion in which the Bears took a 65-62 win, while the girls opener was over before it started with an easy 56-19 victory for the Lady Bears.

Senior Kai Randolph lit up the Hornets with 23 points for Sylvan Hills, 15 of which came from blasts behind the arc. Randolph used turnarounds, fades, and anything else to catch Oak Grove defenders off guard, and responded well to every adjustment they made by moving his range out further as the game went on.

“I felt good about this game coming in,” Sylvan Hills coach Kevin Davis said. “This is a small, young group, and we knew Oak Grove would come in here and play hard. Hats off to coach Herring; they came in here and made it interesting. It’s kind of strange to play someone who runs a lot of the same things that you do; we had to add some wrinkles, and I think that’s part of what had us out of sync a little bit early on.”

Davis also had high praise for his young shooter.

“By the time Kai leaves here, he will probably be the best pure shooter I’ve ever had,” Davis said. “I’ve had a lot of really great shooters over the years, but his release is so smooth. He didn’t play very much on the floor for us last year, but even though he wasn’t seeing a lot of time, he was still working hard.”

Eight points was the biggest lead the Bears emjoyed all night. The Hornets came back from an early deficit to tie the game at 16-16 after one, and led most of the second quarter until Randolph launched another long ball to put the Bears ahead 27-24 at the intermission.

Sylvan Hills had its biggest surge in the middle of the third quarter. Randolph and P.J. Ross put their superior communication skills between each other to work inthe third, with some good dishes from Randolph to Ross under the hoop. That’s not to say the Randolph stopped scoring as well. A three-point basket by Randolph at the 3:44 mark put the Bears up 41-33, prompting the Hornets to take a time out and regroup.

The Hornets fought their way back through the fourth period, and had their chance to steal the win away in the final minute.

A back court violation against Sylvan Hills gave the Hornets possession while trailing by only one point at 63-62. Cedrick Williams took a shot under the goal that didn’t fall, and teammate Joloni Patterson picked up the rebound. Patterson tried to drive it back inside, but stepped on the base line, giving the ball back to the Bears with four seconds left to play.

Randolph led the Bears with 23 points. Ross added 13 points for the Bears. Sylvan Hills improved to 3-6 on the season with the win.

The Lady Bears made fast work of Oak Grove in the opener. Sylvan Hills rushed out to a 21-1 lead during the opening period, and went with subs for most of the remainder after starting post player Trinity Thomas lit up the Lady Hornets for eight points in the first quarter.

Sylvan Hills did their part with a good defensive push early, but the Lady Hornets proved to be their own worst enemy in several cases. Oak Grove responded badly to the SH press, throwing the ball out of bounds seven times in the first quarter alone.

Oak Grove finally scored its first field goal with 5:00 left in the first half, which made the score 24-5. Mercedes Gains scored both goals for the Lady Hornets in the first half, with the remainding points coming off free throws by Sherry Murphy. Sylvan Hillls led 29-10 at the intermission, and another brief run by the starting five in the third quarter pushed the game into sportsmanship-rule status by the end of the frame. Dede Lewis scored two baskets in the late going to give the Lady Bears a 47-18 lead through three quarters.

Thomas led the Lady Bears with 16 points. Lewis added nine, with seven points from Terica Kendrick. Dedosha Dennis finished with six, and Latrina Brandon added five points.