Tuesday, January 04, 2011

SPORTS>>Beebe takes Classic in OT

Leader sportswriter

Harding Academy’s cold, third-quarter start was all Beebe needed for a dramatic comeback and 57-53, overtime victory in the Beebe Holiday Classic championship at Badger Sports Arena on Thursday.

Beebe senior guard Devonte Young made a three-pointer a minute into overtime and the Badgers held on the rest of the way.

Young scored six of Beebe’s eight points in the third quarter while the Badgers held the Wildcats to three. That pulled Beebe within 29-26, and the Badgers took the lead early in the fourth quarter.

Beebe (10-2) overtook Harding Academy (8-3) early in the fourth quarter.

Marshall Price made a three-pointer with 15 seconds left in regulation to keep the Wildcats in it, but Young kept momentum with the Badgers when he made his overtime three-pointer.

“Very good ball game — two good ball clubs,” Badgers coach Ryan Marshall said. “Great kids on both teams, and they just competed extremely well. They’ve got six kids who can shoot the basketball. We even gave up a couple late where we told them to defend the three and just lost track of what we were doing.

“The third quarter was the key. We came out and put full court pressure man to man. They only scored three points in the third quarter, and I thought that was a big turning point in the ball game.”

Harding Academy coach Brad Francis was surprised by his team’s slow start in the second half.

“That’s been something that we’ve been pretty good at all year in the third quarter,” Francis said. “And we held them, too. We just didn’t take very good possessions of the basketball right there when we had a chance to extend the lead.”

Beebe forward Dayton Scott had a game-high 16 rebounds and scored eight points, four in overtime.

“He’s been doing that all year,” Marshall said. “He’s kind of been under the radar; people don’t notice a lot of things like that. He’s probably getting seven, eight blocks a game too, and anywhere from eight to 14 points, so he makes up for a lot of our defensive mistakes under the bucket.”

Young was not much of a factor in the first half with only three points, but the senior went to work in the second half. He snapped a scoreless third-quarter start for both teams with an inside basket with 4:08 left that cut Harding Academy’s lead to 26-20.

Young went on to lead all scorers with 23 points.

“He didn’t shoot the ball well first half,” Marshall said. “I thought he was pressing a little bit, trying to lead the team a little. But he had some big shots in a big stretch for us. He’s been our leader all year long. He’ll continue to do that.”

Scott got the crowd going with an ally-oop dunk with an assist from Brandon Fuller that made it 26-22, and Young made it a two-point game on another dribble-drive basket with 2:04 left in the third.

Braden Jones tied the score at 29 with 7:10 left in regulation, but Wildcats senior post player Daniel Stevens answered with a putback.

The lead changed five times from that point. Young made a three-pointer to tie it at 42 with 1:10 left in regulation and Fuller got a steal and layup to give the Badgers a 44-42 lead with less than a minute to go in the fourth.

Fuller added a free throw after he drew a charge from Will Francis on Harding Academy’s next possession.

Harding Academy guard Lane Dailey cut Beebe’s lead to 50-49 when he hit a pair of free throws with 55 seconds left, but Young hit five of six free throws for the Badgers down the stretch.

The Wildcats (8-3), known for their prolific three-point shooting, were mostly cold from the outside. The Badgers (10-2) didn’t make things easier, using their speed to keep a hand in the face of potential shooters.

Dailey was the only consistent outside shooter for Harding Academy with three, 3-point baskets as part of his team-high 18 points.

“They did a good job of getting pressure on us and getting out there and taking some of that away from us,” Francis said. “The first half, I thought we took it to the basket, got to the foul line, got some shots. Third quarter, we should have settled for some threes, but again, we’re contested.”

Stevens added 14 points and nine rebounds for the Wildcats, while Will Francis scored 12 points.

Fuller finished with nine points for Beebe while Jones had six.