Saturday, January 12, 2008

SPORTS >> Abundant Life teams post sweep

Leader sportswriter

It wasn’t bad enough for Barton that Abundant Life forward Dane Lottner single-handedly outscored the Bears’ entire game effort in the first half alone, but a scrappy Owls junior varsity squad added to the humiliation in the second half by allowing only one basket from Barton. The result was a 68-22 win on Tuesday night at the Abundant Life Schools gymnasium.
Lottner scored 28 points to lead all scorers.

The win improved Abundant Life to 21-5 overall and 4-2 in the 2-3A Conference. Barton fell to 5-6 and 2-5.

It didn’t take long for the Owls to establish complete dominance in the game. Three straight dunks for Lottner in heavy traffic over a one-minute span of the first quarter put Abundant Life up by nine, and the rest was a simple formality for the Owls.
AL coach Tim Ballard said he thinks the impressive run in a Texas tournament over the holidays still has his team pumped full of confidence and enthusiasm.

“We’re still riding that momentum,” Ballard said. “We need to be playing our best ball right now, especially with Rose Bud waiting in the wings.”

Lottner was the only Owl to score against Barton in the opening quarter with the exception of a putback from Nelson Boren at the 5:27 mark that put the Owls up 5-0. The rest was all Lottner, as senior guard Colby Woolverton played assist master. Woolverton set Lottner up for dunks, open looks from the arc, and backdoor plays that led to 16 points for the junior standout.

The score stood at 40-18 at halftime, and the Bears’ offensive woes were still ahead of them.

The Owls’ starting offense displayed its normal proficiency against Barton in the first half, but the AL second team may have outperformed the starters defensively. Ballard says the vast improvement of the JV team could mean the difference in seeding when the district tournament rolls around in a few weeks.

“We have a lot of sophomores and juniors who seem to get better every time they touch the court,” Ballard said. “Depth is something I felt hurt us in the first of the season, but the way these guys have been playing lately, our depth is getting stronger. That is something that could really help us out in this last push through the conference.”

Woolverton put up 10 points in the second quarter, and hit two consecutive three pointers to start the second half. Lottner then added four more points to his total with a basket and a pair of free throws, prompting Ballard to pull the varsity out with a 52-18 lead at the 4:43 mark of the second period. Andrew Chandler, Robert Perry, Britt Bowren and Dillon Eberle took over from there.

Bowren drove inside for a pair of baskets to end the third quarter, and a number of Owls found their way to the goal in the final eight minutes, including Cameron Slayton, Perry, Tristan ‘T-dub’ Williford, George Herring and Kevin Martin.

In addition to Lottner’s 28, Woolverton added 16. Boren finished with six points, and Williford added four points.

Abundant Life 72, Barton Girls 42

Lady Bears guard Candice Cantwell gave Abundant Life fits in the first half with 19 points, including a 5-for-6 performance from three-point land. Despite that, the Lady Owls were still able to build up a 35-30 lead at halftime and cruise to their first conference win of the season.

The Lady Owls sealed off Cantwell with a trap in the second half, while Brittany Sharp and Hannah Pastor took it to the Lady Bears offensively. Sharp ran the exact same baseline drive play for nearly half of her 24 points in the game, and Pastor drove the paint for the majority of her points.

Candice Eudy had a solid night from the outside for Abundant Life, while post player Amy Daniel dominated the glass as the Lady Owls easily won the rebounding battle.

“We’ve been through murderers’ row,” Lady Owls coach Justin Moseley said. “We came close against some really good teams, so it’s nice to come out here and finally close one. We had to slow (Cantwell) down after all the shots she made on us from the outside in the first half. We don’t really like to use the box-and-one, because it doesn’t fall into our normal strategy, but sometimes you have to do whatever you can to slow them down.”

Moseley was also happy with his team’s offensive efforts.

“We had a really good second half,” Moseley said. “We got aggressive when we needed to. Andrea Venus got us off to a good start with some layups, and I thought Candice had a good night outside. She’s capable of doing really good things from the outside, if we could get that kind of performance most nights, we would be tough to beat.”

Sharp led the Lady Owls with 24 points. Pastor added 22 points for Abundant Life, and Eudy finished with 15.

The win gives the Lady Owls a record of 9-14 overall and 1-5 in the 2-3A Conference. Barton fell to 3-11 and 0-6 with the loss.