Tuesday, February 01, 2011

SPORTS >> Bears’defense buries Eagles

Leader sportswriter

An off-balance start did not prevent Sylvan Hills from controlling every minute of its 70-38, 5A-Southeast Conference battle with Crossett at Sylvan Hills on Friday.

The Bears (15-3, 6-0) outscored the Eagles 20-10 in the first quarter despite spotty shooting, and held that margin through most of the next period before paralyzing their foes with tougher defense in the second half.

Man-to-man pressure began to take its toll on the Eagles in the third quarter as they scored just 12 points in the entire second half.

“When you’re under that man-to-man pressure for that long, you wear down,” Sylvan Hills coach Kevin Davis said. “A couple of shots that fell early didn’t fall late. So that’s what you see typically in a man-to-man game in the fourth quarter.

“These guys do what they do, and it took just a little to get on track.”

The game started an hour earlier than most home games as a travel courtesy to Crossett (4-9, 0-6).

Junior guard Jacob Gates provided the early spark for the Bears, who began to build a solid lead late in the first quarter. Gates made a three-point basket with 2:06 left in the first to give Sylvan Hills a 13-6 lead, and made two free throws with one minute left to make it 18-10.

“That’s what Jacob does; that’s his strong suit,” Davis said. “He can really come in and energize a ballgame.”

The Bears made close to 50 percent of their three-pointers in the opening quarter, with the shots spread among four players.

Trey Smith made a three-pointer to start the game, and point guard Dion Patton made the first of his 10 points on a three-pointer with 5:01 left in the quarter to give Sylvan Hills an 8-2 lead.

Senior guard Fred Washington extended the Bears’ lead to 16-8 when he hit a three-pointer with 1:25 left in the first quarter.

Prized major-college recruit Archie Goodwin went scoreless the first four minutes and sat out the remainder of the first quarter with Gates on the floor. Goodwin eventually went on to lead the Bears with 18 points, including a pair of show-stopping dunks in the last four minutes of the game.

“We came in, it was an early start — things were just a little bit off normal,” Davis said. “It might have had a little to do with the sluggish start. Then, once they started getting closer to the time they’re used to playing, they played a lot better.”

With Goodwin struggling early, the supporting cast did its job with 14 points from Smith, including three, three-pointers, 10 points for Patton, nine for post player Devin Pearson, eight for Gates and seven for forward Larry Ziegler.

It was the Bears’ most balanced scoring since the start of conference play.

“That’s what you want,” Davis said. “You like it when Archie does what he can do, but then when guys come off the bench and contribute the way they did tonight, and that’s what we know these guys can do.

“We’re trying to build that consistency, and that’s a credit to them to keep that consistent effort and consistent scoring going.”

The fourth quarter also started shakily for Goodwin, who missed a dunk attempt and ended up sliding across the baseline on his back.

He settled for a lay-in on his next breakaway, but finally gave the capacity crowd the dunk it had waited to see with 4:38 left to play.

Smith had just triggered the sportsmanship mercy rule, in which the clock runs continuously, with a basket that made it 64-34 before Goodwin cut loose on two straight dunks.

His second was unassisted with a steal in the backcourt. There was no chance of a Crossett defender catching him, and the home crowd was on its feet in anticipation of the reverse dunk that got the stands rocking.

Smith hit back-to-back three-pointers to start the fourth quarter, and Patton broke free on a steal he converted into a layup to give Sylvan Hills a 60-34 lead.

Two free throws by Goodwin inched the Bears closer to the continuous clock with 5:07 left, and Gates ended the game with a free throw after time had expired.