Friday, February 05, 2010

SPORTS >> North Pulaski presses, pulls away

Leader sportswriter

The 73-45 final score was a result of North Pulaski coach Raymond Cooper calling off the dogs very early in the second half.

Because up to that point, Cooper’s Falcons had dominated Beebe in every aspect of the game on their way to a 34-7 lead after one quarter and a 53-16 lead at halftime.

The Falcons (15-4, 7-0 5A-Southeast) were 6 of 6 from three-point range and forced seven Badger turnovers in the first quarter with a relentless full-court press.

In fact, North Pulaski increased the lead to the 30 points required to trigger the sportsmanship/timing rule with 6:48 left in the second quarter as it kept its conference record unblemished.

“We shot lights out,” Cooper said. “When you’re shooting like that, you’re going to score pretty good. We came out, got hot and our guys played pretty good defense in the first half too.”

Despite the Falcons’ good fortunes on the court, adversity was represented on the bench, where senior three-year starting forward DaQuan Bryant was wearing a knee brace on his right leg. Bryant did not play.

It was the sixth consecutive, 5A-Southeast loss for the Badgers (3-16, 1-7), but they were able to clean up the deficit somewhat in the second half after the disastrous first in which the Falcons held them to only four points until Caleb Davidson made a pair of free throws to cut the lead to 29-6 with 1:27 left in the first quarter.

The Falcons’ press led to three steals in the first period. They also capitalized on a 10-second call and forced a double dribble that led to the second of North Pulaski senior guard Aaron Cooper’s four, three-pointers in the first quarter.

“We got better rotations, which is something we’ve been working out of,” Cooper said. “We’ve had breakdowns after three or four passes. And tonight, they stayed disciplined and didn’t get over aggressive. They just kind of let it come to them and took advantage of it.”

Senior guard Joe Agee was the first to strike for the Falcons with a three-pointer off the tip, followed by Cooper’s first three-pointer with 7:16 left to make it 6-0. Bryan Colson scored inside with 5:56 left for the first of his 10 points and an 8-0 Falcon lead.

Davidson was the only Badger able to shake off North Pulaski’s stifling defense early on. He scored Beebe’s first points with 5:03 left in the first quarter, and managed to beat the press for a wide-open lay-up with 4:12 left in the first half.

But that was sandwiched between two threes for Cooper, who went on to lead the Falcons with 26 points, 18 of which came in the first quarter.

Sophomore reserve Shyheim Barron provided North Pulaski’s next first-quarter spark when he came off the bench and made a fade shot with 2:31 left in the period to make it 22-4.

Barron opened the scoring with 2:15 left in the first and converted a basket and free throw with 1:50 left in the quarter to give the Falcons a 29-4 lead. He capped off the first quarter with a three-pointer in the final 30 seconds as part of his 14 total points.

Beebe battled back against the North Pulaski reserves in the second half.

Devonte Young found open shots around the perimeter, while Davidson and Zach May scored tough inside points. Young led
Beebe with 11 points. Davidson scored 10 and May scored nine.

Colson added 10 points for North Pulaski.