Tuesday, December 28, 2010

SPORTS>>Lady Lions look for lineup

By Jason King
Leader sportswriter

The Searcy Lady Lions are starting to find the balance between their young talent and a small senior class.

Seniors Elliot Scarborough and Chelsea Butler have plenty of experience as three-year starters, but as the only two seniors from last year’s 6A state final qualifier, they have struggled to find some support.

The Lady Lions (5-6) have experimented with several different combinations in an effort to find what works, and even with a productive holiday break and a 54-46 victory over Stuttgart in the first round of the Wynne invitational Monday, coach Michelle Birdsong said she is not yet ready to take off her lab coat.

“We’re still having trouble finding the right combination,” Birdsong said. “We’re still struggling. We’ve been playing a lot of combinations, and everyone has been playing their role.

“We’ve been able to play several kids off the bench who have put in a lot of minutes on the floor, and I think that’s going to help us in the long run.”

Stuttgart led most of the way in the first half and carried a 23-20 lead into halftime. But the Lady Lions, led by freshman sensation Brittnee Broadway’s 16-point performance, took control of the rebounding in the second half and outscored the Lady Ricebirds 17-10 in the third quarter.

Searcy outscored Stuttgart 17-13 in the final period.

Scarborough added 11 points for Searcy while Butler had nine and freshman Micah Tipton scored seven.

“We were sluggish,” Birdsong said. “And we didn’t practice over the weekend, so we looked tired. But the girls did a good job in the second half of rebounding.

“I told them at halftime that if we could get in there and rebound, we would be alright, and they were able to do that.”

Broadway has started every game for the Lady Lions while Tipton sat out several games with a back injury. Both players started Monday.

“Micah hurt her back, and I don’t know if it was one of our practices,” Birdsong said.

“She also does a lot of club soccer. And with playing soccer and playing basketball, she didn’t get a break. It makes you tired, and when you get tired, you get hurt.”

Birdsong said that a tough start to the season for Scarborough has not kept her from improving as a floor leader.

“I think it’s something she tried to prepare for since the beginning of the year,” Birdsong said.

“Elliot’s done a good job of coming on the floor and encouraging. It’s tough, especially when you lose some, and we’ve lost quite a few. It can get you down, but she’s been a strong, positive influence.”

The Lady Lions were preparing for a second-round game against Forrest City on Tuesday. A victory would put them in today’s championship round.

The tournament also features Bald Knob, Hughes, Earle and the host team Wynne.

Birdsong said she hopes the tournament competition and two good weeks of holiday practice will have Searcy ready for action in the 6A-East Conference beginning next week. The Lady Lions will be put to the test early with road games at West Memphis and Mountain Home.

“The last two weeks have been really good practices for us,” Birdsong said.

“Once you get into the season, it’s hard to get in a good hard practice because you always have a game coming up. But we had two weeks in between games, so we were able to get in some good, hard practices, and the girls have responded well.”