Tuesday, February 22, 2011

SPORTS >> Beebe boys wow crowd in victory

Leader sportswriter

The student section got more than its money’s worth as Beebe held off the Forrest City Mustangs 54-50 at Badger Sports Arena on Monday.

The Badger athletic department allowed students free admission to the 5A-East Conference rematch, and they responded by packing the bleachers behind the south goal.

The students were part of a near-capacity crowd that saw Beebe senior captain Devonte Young score a game-high 17 points, which included 6 of 8 clutch free throws in the final minute as the Mustangs frantically tried to overcome a two-possession deficit.

They came close to doing just that when Wesley Booker made a three-pointer with 45 seconds left to cut it to 49-48, but Young hit two free throws and then stole the ball on Forrest City’s end to earn another quick trip to the line.

Young was perfect again, and he tacked on one more free throw for good measure with 19 seconds left following a basket by the Mustangs’ LaCharles Boyd.

“We just met the challenge tonight,” Beebe coach Ryan Marshall said.

“It was a great high-school ballgame. I thought the game over there was bigger, because we had just come off a loss to Greene County Tech and had to go into that hostile environment. But tonight, the kids did a great job.”

Junior forward Dayton Scott matched Young’s big-play consistency and senior sixth man Zach May provided an early spark with seven of his nine points in the first quarter.

Two points was the largest margin for either team in the first half, which featured six lead changes in the second quarter alone.

Scott put on his biggest show during that time with a dunk that gave Beebe (20-4, 10-2) a 13-12 lead inside six minutes to go. He took an ally-oop assist from Brandon Fuller for a two-handed dunk just before the halftime buzzer to give the Badgers a 22-20 lead.

The Badgers completed a sweep of Forrest City (8-4 conference) after winning 45-44 at Forrest City on Feb. 15.

“Hard-fought ballgame; both teams played hard,” Forrest City coach Dwight Lofton said. “Just like the first game, a few more breaks went their way, but they’re a solid team — two solid teams. Wherever we go in the 5A, this is how it is.

“I’m very impressed with Beebe, with their program. This is the shot in the arm that they needed, and it can only make the 5A-East better.”

The victory assures Beebe of at least a No. 2 seed in the 5A state tournament, but the Badgers will need a Blytheville loss to have a shot at the conference title. Forrest City is locked into the No. 3 seed with one league game remaining.

May checked in after the first three minutes and immediately went to work, scoring on a putback with 4:20 left in the first quarter to tie it 4-4 and scored inside again with 2:29 left for a 6-6 tie. The reserve post player showed his versatility with a three-pointer from the corner with 1:48 left in the period to give the Badgers a 9-8 lead.

“He’s done that for us the last couple of games,” Marshall said. “We could probably find a starting spot for him, but we kind of like bringing him in like that and letting him get things going for us.”

Austin Burroughs got in on the action late for Beebe with a basket that gave the Badgers a 37-34 lead to start the fourth quarter. Young got the ball back with a steal near midcourt and passed to Burroughs, who hit a jumper just outside the lane and drew a foul with 6:21 left to play.

Burroughs converted the three-point play to give Beebe its largest lead, 40-34.

Scott added 13 points for Beebe and had two blocks while Burroughs finished with seven points. Forrest City’s Jordan Chatter scored 16 points.

Beebe has a 6-0 conference record at home. Marshall pointed to the final of the Christmas Classic tournament, which the Badgers won in overtime against Harding Academy, and said that began to energize the fan base.

“It’s been very exciting,” Marshall said. “I thought winning our tournament versus Harding, who brought a great crowd, and obviously has a great ball club, kind of got things started.

“The administration’s been great here. They let the kids in free the other night against Nettleton and then also tonight. It’s just a great environment to play in.”

The Beebe Lady Badgers also completed a sweep of Forrest City with a 68-48 victory on Monday.

Sophomore Jamie Jackson led with 25 points, making 15 of 19 free throws, and had 10 rebounds. Senior Shayln Young added 23 points.