Saturday, January 02, 2010

SPORTS >> Badgers finally succeed on home court

Leader sportswriter

The first two rounds of the Beebe Christmas Classic were tough for the host, but the Badgers closed the three-day tournament strong with a 59-47 victory over White Hall in the seventh-place game Wednesday at Badger Sports Arena.

Junior guard Devonte Young got the Badgers out to a fast start and helped keep his team out front by leading all scorers with 21 points, seven of which came in the first two minutes.

Beebe went to the free-throw line four times in the final minute and hit 4 of 8 shots while keeping the Bulldogs scoreless.

The victory improved Beebe to 2-8 and gave the Badgers momentum heading into the new year and 5A-Southeast Conference play.

“The whole thing is a process,” first-year Beebe coach Chris Parker said. “What we are really trying to do is establish some principles early on that are going to help us later down the road.

“We really don’t get caught up in wins and losses, although wins are certainly great to have. But hopefully, it will boost our morale a little bit and help us continue the progress we’ve already started to make.”

While Young took the reigns offensively, Beebe’s tough defense was a group effort. Young led with six steals, but teammates Zach May and Scot Gowen also grabbed multiple turnovers.

The Badgers also held shooting guard Evan Sidwell to six points, two coming on free throws, after he scored 19 points and had five three-pointers against Riverview in the first round.

“We really keyed on that,” Parker said. “We talked about what we wanted to do, what we felt like some of the keys to the game were. We did a really good job on him.

“We were able to stay with our man-to-man defense, which is our preference, and really get up into the shooters. We made them put the ball on the floor so they couldn’t establish a rhythm.”

The Bulldogs erased Beebe’s early lead and took control midway through the first period. A three-pointer by Tanner Moore with 3:07 left in the quarter gave White Hall its biggest lead of the game, and Beebe was not able to catch up until 2:08 was left in the half when Gowen drove inside and tied it at 25.

The Badgers made up for their size deficit and youth with hustle, which they did with a tight, man-to-man defense and a full-court press that gave White Hall problems in the fourth quarter. That led to 14 steals for Beebe, including three by May and a pair for Gowen.

“They are very experienced,” Parker said. “Everybody they played except for one kid was a senior. For us, as inexperienced as we are, to come out and really compete with a team that has competed for two or three years on the varsity level was certainly a good thing.”

Beebe finally began to pull away in the final 1:45 when Brandon Fuller went the length of the floor and scored to give the Badgers a 53-45 lead.