Friday, February 26, 2010

SPORTS >> Wildcats triple fun in victory

Leader sports editor

SEARCY — Harding Academy went from the outside in.
Into the second round that is.

The Wildcats built a comfortable lead with three-pointers in the first half then held off Episcopal Collegiate in the second for a 56-41 victory in the first round of the Region 2 tournament at Riverview High School on Thursday night.

Harding Academy made five three-pointers and a free throw in the first quarter to take a 16-3 lead and was up 30-15 at halftime. Episcopal Collegiate fought back to within 34-28 when Derek Keaton hit a floater in the lane with 4:29 left in the third quarter, but Jordan Smith converted a three-point play on Harding Academy’s next possession and Episcopal would get no closer.

“The key to the game for us was to control tempo,” Harding Academy coach Brad Francis said. “And I thought we did that early in the game and got a lead and that allowed us to dictate it even more.”

Will Francis gave Harding Academy a spark when he came off the bench in the first quarter to hit the first of his three 3-pointers.

“We don’t mind those kind of shots if we’re getting them out of the offense after we’ve given the other things a chance,” Brad Francis said of the three-pointers. “I thought we hit a stretch late in the first half, early in the second, where we were taking those same shots but we were taking them quicker.”

Will Francis finished with 27 points, getting 12 on free throws.

Stevens added 12 points for Harding Academy.

Harding Academy faced Arkansas Baptist in Friday’s late game. Top seed Riverview played Fountain Lake in the early game Friday evening.