Tuesday, February 22, 2011

SPORTS >> Loss leaves Sylvan Hills on bubble for tourney

Leader sportswriter

Mental mistakes that led to wasted possessions doomed Sylvan Hills down the stretch as the Mills Lady Comets took a 41-34 victory at the Galaxy on Friday.

The Lady Comets (13-8, 6-3) rallied from an 11-point deficit to start the second half, and held the Lady Bears (10-13, 5-6) to just three points in the fourth quarter.

Ashley Johnson gave the Lady Bears a 34-33 lead when she made a three-pointer with 4:11 left to play, but Mills closed it out with an 8-0 run to leave Sylvan Hills on the state tournament bubble.

“Is that all we had?” Rodden said of the fourth quarter scoring, or lack of it. “What do you do? You shouldn’t have to use inexperience as a reason anymore — not this time of year. Look at the unforced errors we made.

“The same thing happened when we played them at our place.”

The top three seeds in the 5A-Southeast Conference are settled with unbeaten Watson Chapel claiming the top spot while Monticello (12-2 in conference) took the No. 2 seed. Mills and Sylvan Hills have makeup games left, but with the Lady Comets three games ahead and having swept the Lady Bears, there is virtually no chance of Sylvan Hills catching them for third.

Sylvan Hills was in fourth place, a game ahead of White Hall, which it defeated in a make-up game on Monday.

The state tournament is at Alma starting next Tuesday.

“We have six losses,” Rodden said. “We’ve got to win out next week. We’ve got to beat everybody below us to even have a shot. We played hard — don’t get me wrong. They gave it everything they had out there as far as effort.”

Sylvan Hills dominated the second quarter and went up 22-15 at halftime. Toyletha Lewis extended the lead to nine at the start of the third quarter when she took an assist from Kashima Wright and scored inside, and Johnson slashed into the lane for a jumper to give the Lady Bears their largest lead, 26-15 with 6:36 left.

“When things are going our way, we’re pretty good,” Rodden said. “We cannot handle adversity. We can’t handle the pressure. We threw the ball away, we walked, we double dribbled.”

Lewis scored all six of her points to carry the Lady Bears through the third quarter. Jalmedal Byrd assisted on Lewis’ inside shot for the 29-26 lead with 3:38 left in the third quarter, and Lewis extended the lead to 31-26 with a putback on the next possession.

Jonte Duhart cut the lead to 31-29 with a three pointer and Jasmine Perkins tied the game with a steal and a layup just before the end of the third quarter.

The Lady Bears were able to work their way through the Lady Comets’ full-court press in the third quarter, but it began to take its toll in the fourth. Sylvan Hills had 17 turnovers, with seven coming in the last period.

“I thought we made really poor decisions with the ball during that stretch,” Rodden said.

“Because I knew when they got the lead, they were going to go man, which has happened to us before, and I’m screaming to step up and put pressure on them.”

Johnson led the Lady Bears with 14 points, 10 rebounds and three steals. Lewis had six points and six rebounds.

For Mills, Perkins led with 14 points while Sasha Carter had 11 points and 11 rebounds.