Tuesday, February 22, 2011

SPORTS >> Bears overtake foul-plagued Comets

Leader sportswriter

Sylvan Hills made Mills pay for foul trouble in a 64-61 comeback victory at the Galaxy on Friday.

Sylvan Hills’ Larry Ziegler and Archie Goodwin combined for a less than stellar 3-of-14 performance at the free-throw line in the fourth quarter, but the duo drew fouls from the right players at the right time, as four Mills players fouled out down the stretch.

Ziegler and Goodwin drew fouls to cost the Comets two players each, including three starters, in the final period. Bears point guard Dion Patton made a three-pointer with 2:23 left to play to give the Bears a 58-57 lead, their first since the opening minute of the second half.

Despite having four reserves on the floor in the final minute, Mills continued to battle until Sylvan Hills’ Trey Smith made two free throws with 21 seconds left to ice it for the Bears.

Sylvan Hills (19-3, 11-0) went to the free-throw line nine times in the fourth quarter, yet Smith was the only one to go for 2 for 2 on any of those  opportunities.

“To miss as many free throws as we did tonight, not characteristic of our ball club,” Bears coach Kevin Davis said. “Perimeter shots not going down, and yet to still find a way to win in a hot gym against a very good Mills Comets basketball team who really brought it tonight with their emotion and their effort.”

Scoring was largely by committee for the Comets (14-8, 7-4) as post player Denzel Anthony scored 11 points and three others had nine. Anthony had 16 rebounds to keep momentum with Mills through most of the game as he got many of his points on putbacks.

“He’s a 6-8, 6-9 guy,” Davis said. “And sometimes our rotation over on the defense leaves him some easy buckets. I think he had 18 over at our place. So we know in pressure defense, he’s hanging around the front of the cup.”

As has been the case in most of Sylvan Hills’ conference games this season, the stands were packed with fans trying to get a glimpse of Goodwin, the Bears’ five-star college recruit.

Goodwin gave the crowd its money’s worth with a game-high 27 points, including a breakaway two-handed dunk with 23 seconds left in the first quarter. It was enough to bring even the Mills fans to their feet despite the fact their team was locked in a critical, 5A-Southeast Conference game.

Goodwin also had seven rebounds.

“I thought it was just a heavyweight fight,” Davis said. “We went toe-to-toe in here. Our resiliency and our toughness paid off for us.”

Not all of the Bears fared poorly at the free-throw line. Patton went 5 for 5 for half of his 10 points while post player Devin Pearson was perfect on his only trip to the line with 5:39 left in the first half.

But for Goodwin, who prides himself on being a consistent free-throw shooter, his 9 for 22 showing was among the worst in his career.

Ziegler, who finished with 11 points, literally drew first blood when he charged into the lane and forced Anthony to commit his fourth personal foul with five minutes remaining.

After the whistle, Anthony had to leave the floor because he had blood on his shorts. He returned moments later only to foul Ziegler again with 4:10 left, leaving the Comets without their inside size advantage while trying to hold a 53-50 lead.

Sylvan Hills also had its share of tense moments.

Mills’ Robert Dukes made a spin move near mid-court and inadvertently chopped Goodwin, who was defending, in the throat and sent Goodwin to the floor with 5:23 left. Play was stopped for Goodwin to recover, and he reentered when play was stopped because of the blood on Anthony’s uniform.

Goodwin got even when he drew Dukes’ fifth personal with 3:12 remaining. Goodwin also got Mills starter Kyle Jackson to foul out with 1:17 left to play and Ziegler got Comets’ reserve post James Lee to foul out in the final minute.

Sylvan Hills’ sixth man, Jacob Gates, fouled out with 3:24 left and Ziegler took a seat with 26 seconds remaining.

“This crowd was crazy, wasn’t it?” Davis said. “A packed house over here at Mills; Sylvan Hills and Mills have a rivalry anyway, and the guys on both sides are juiced for this game. Even though I thought the heat took it out of us a little bit, I thought both teams brought it.

“That’s what you saw as far as us taking them out or them taking us out.”

Pearson finished with six points and a team-high eight rebounds. Dukes, Chris Hampton and Dantrell Washington each had nine points for Mills.

The Bears play a makeup game at home against Helena-West Helena on Thursday.