Monday, March 09, 2009

SPORTS >> Lady Bears cannot overcome slow start

Leader sportswriter

ALMA – One good quarter was not enough for the Sylvan Hills Lady Bears on Thursday.

In their first post-season appearance since 2004, the Lady Bears overcame a shoddy 1-of-14 performance from the floor in the first quarter to make a game of it in the second quarter, only to see Greene County Tech pull away once again in the second half to hand them a 56-38 loss in the opening round of the 5A state tournament at Airedale Arena.

The Lady Bears finished the season with an 18-7 record. Greene County Tech (20-8) took on Camden Fairview in the quarterfinals Thursday night.

Tech pulled out to a 14-4 lead at the end of the first quarter before Sylvan Hills came back in the second period. Latrina Brandon put up six of her team-high 15 points, while post player Whitney Chambers added five more. The Lady Bears outscored GCT 15-7 in the second quarter to trail 21-19 at the half.

“The first quarter, we had that deer-in-the-headlights look,” said Sylvan Hills coach Bee Rodden. “Just how hard can we shoot that ball off the rim and see how far it will bounce out? There for a while, I thought we weren’t going to get on the inside of that rim at all.”

Amy Fletcher led the Lady Eagles’ pull away effort in the third quarter with 12 of her game-high 23 points. Elisha Diggs added another basket and 4 of 6 free-throw attempts to aid the effort, as Tech held a comfortable 41-26 lead heading into the final period.

“How many times do we go down there and turn it over, or one-and-done?” said Rodden. “We didn’t execute our possessions. We had two-on-one, and couldn’t get a shot or a foul. They only called six fouls the entire half. We just didn’t play well, and that third quarter just absolutely killed us.”

The Lady Bears ended up 16 of 54 from the field, while Tech was 22 of 43. Tech won the rebounding battle 32-28, and committed 17 turnovers. Sylvan Hills committed 16 turnovers.

Ashley Johnson added eight points, and led the Lady Bears in rebounding with six. Chambers finished with seven points, with five points and four rebounds from De De Lewis. Terica Kendrick had three points and four assists for Sylvan Hills.

Fletcher added eight rebounds to her 23 points, and Diggs had six boards to go along with her 15 points.

It was the final game for Brandon, Chambers and Tiara Hatchett. Returning for Sylvan Hills next year will be starters Lewis, Johnson and Kendrick. All three will be seniors next season. Forward Ashley Evans, who saw ample playing time this year, will also return as a senior.

“For what we’ve had to endure the past three years, this has been a great year for Trina,” said Rodden. “She really came into her own. She’s done everything I’ve asked her to. I hate to see her go, for sure. She’s a dandy. I hope she gets an opportunity to play at the next level, because she’s just getting better. I wish her the best, she’s a great kid.

“I’ve enjoyed this season, and I haven’t enjoyed a year like this in a long time. We have a pretty good nucleus coming back if everyone stays together.”