Friday, February 05, 2010

SPORTS >> Girls seize first victory for Beebe

Leader sportswriter

Building an early lead was the easy part for Beebe, but the Lady Badgers struggled to put irksome North Pulaski away in the final minutes of their 46-35 victory Tuesday.

But a wide-open shot by post player Shelbie Thomas with 1:01 left to play put the Lady Badgers ahead by 10 following a late push by the Lady Falcons, and Beebe went on to win its first game of the season at Badger Sports Arena.

Shaylin Young provided the scoring consistency Beebe needed to end its unflattering losing streak. Young led the Lady Badgers with 15 points, with eight in the first half and seven in the second.

Thomas also took over the rebounding in the late going for Beebe, and North Pulaski never scored again after Denesha Shelton’s bank shot with 1:51 left to play.

“I thought we did what we had to do,” Lady Badgers coach Lora Jackson said. “We talked at halftime about going to the boards and blocking out. We did well for the first five or six minutes of the first quarter, and after that, it started to become a problem for us. I thought we did a much better job in the second half.”

The Lady Badgers (1-18, 1-6 5A-Southeast) went on an early run that gave them a comfortable four-score cushion they were able to maintain most of the way.

But the Lady Falcons (2-12, 1-6) pushed back in the final three minutes with a 5-0 run by Shelton, who went on to lead North Pulaski with 13 points.

Beebe’s victory put two teams in a tie for seventh in the 5A-Southeast and avenged a 50-39 loss at North Pulaski in the first meeting in mid-January.

“We rebounded a lot better,” Jackson said. “We’ve improved greatly. We’ve done a lot of things that are helping us. We’re being a lot more patient offensively, and we’re working a little more defensively.

“We handled the pressure a little bit better tonight, and those were all things we’ve been trying to improve on. It all came together tonight and we did it.”

The Lady Falcons kept Beebe senior post player Danna Jackson out of the mix until the fourth quarter, when she began to find open shots. Jackson scored all of her five points in the quarter, including a basket and free throw with 6:40 left to give Beebe a 37-26 lead, and another shot, assisted by Thomas, with 4:12 left to make it 41-30.

“They came out and started putting some more pressure on us at the perimeter, and that left the middle open a little more,” Lora Jackson said. “The first half, they were clogging up the middle. Whenever we played them the first time, the high post was open quite a bit.

“We were able to get it inside, and our posts did a good job of finding one another. They played the post-buddy game, and it paid off for us.”

Thomas added eight points for Beebe, and pulled down the majority of the rebounds on both ends. Her defensive play also forced the Lady Falcons to attempt their comeback with outside shooting.

“She’s really come along the last few ballgames,” Jackson said. “The last couple of weeks, she’s been playing a lot stronger.

Finishing around the basket, rebounding for us, and that’s what we need.

“We need that spark, and I think she’s really done a good job there.”

Guard Alexis Miguel scored seven points for the Lady Badgers and post player Kelsie Walker added six. Laura Dortch scored seven points for North Pulaski while Bianca Harper and post player Brianna Cash each added six.