Friday, February 11, 2011

SPORTS>>Wild one goes Bears’ way

Leader sportswriter

There was almost too much action in the 5A-Southeast Conference rematch between North Pulaski and Sylvan Hills for Sylvan Hills’ little gym to contain on Tuesday.

A capacity-plus crowd that included Kansas coach Bill Self saw Sylvan Hills pull off what at one point looked like an impossible comeback as the Bears took a 78-77, overtime victory to remain perfect in conference play.

Sylvan Hills reserve Anthony Featherstone made a free throw with four seconds left in overtime to win the frenzied, emotional matchup — which included a collision between a North Pulaski player and Sylvan Hills coach Kevin Davis and an ensuing, on-court melee.

Featherstone made his game-winner and got his only point after he took a pass from triple-teamed teammate Archie Goodwin and drew a foul.

“It was a physical game over there; we knew it was going to be that way over here,” Davis said. “They are right behind us in the conference, what do you expect?

“They’re coming after us, as they should, and we’re going to come right back at them. It’s a packed house, and all the emotion made for what I thought was a great, great ballgame.”

Bears forward Larry Ziegler forced overtime when he took an inbounds pass from Trey Smith with 2.8 seconds left and hit a bank shot from the top of the key after weaving his way through Falcons defenders at mid-court.

That followed a fracas in which fans restrained Davis and the floor was mobbed after Falcons sophomore point guard Dayshawn Watkins knocked down Davis while celebrating what he thought was his winning pull-up jumper in the lane that gave North Pulaski a 71-69 lead with less than three seconds left.

“Just the emotion of the game — it’s just a great game,” Davis said. “I’m up, and they’re celebrating in front of our bench, and I get kind of blindsided. I didn’t see it, I just knew a kid hit me, and all I was telling the official was, we’ve got to control the celebrations, because they were over here at our bench knocking us down, and that was all.

“And then the emotion of it just kind of went from there. Great game, both sides, and a lot of emotion.”

North Pulaski fans called for a technical foul on Davis, and one angry Falcons fan was thrown out for aggressive behavior near the scorer’s table.

“It was absolutely the craziest atmosphere,” North Pulaski coach Raymond Cooper said. “We had policemen, security, administrators, teams, parents — we had 50 people in the middle of the court during regulation, 50 people.

“And to this day, I don’t know what happened, I got no explanation as to why 50 people and police are on the court, and, it just happened.”

Watkins sought out Davis following the game to explain the collision was unintentional.

“He came in, classy guy, and he said, ‘Coach, I didn’t see you, I didn’t mean to do that,’ ” Davis said. “He was just right in front of our bench, and I was this way, and so it knocked me down. He didn’t mean to do that.

“I think everybody running out there, the emotion of the crowd just kind of escalated it. But I was cool with it. I had to come back and call a play there at the end.”

Cooper came just short of declaring a technical foul should have been called.

“There’s 50 people on the court, policemen, administrators, and, I don’t know,” Cooper said.

Almost lost in the excitement was a career-high, 48-point performance by Goodwin, the Bears’ junior guard and five-star college recruit Self came to watch. Self’s presence behind the Sylvan Hills bench added to the atmosphere and the coach clearly enjoyed the moment, teasing Bears fans and parents afterward that it was just a game.

“I’ve been talking about Archie this week,” Davis said. “Particularly the things I see coming out of him as of late has been his competitiveness and refusing to lose in our practices and drills. As we’re mixing those things up, he’s just not going to let his team lose.

“I thought that’s what you saw tonight. That’s Archie Goodwin.”

The screens and lane blocks got progressively rougher on both sides in the second half. Braylon Spicer fouled out late in regulation after leading the Falcons with 20 points.

“We’re not in it for emotional victories,” Cooper said. “We’re trying to win a conference championship. And my kids did everything that they had to do tonight to win that conference championship. So I’m proud of them as we can possibly be. We did all that we could do.”

Spicer gave the Falcons a 67-62 lead with 2:39 left in regulation on a three-point shot, his fourth of the night. Zeigler scored on a putback for the Bears before Goodwin got a steal and a dunk to cut the deficit to 67-66 with 1:40 left.

Watkins hit two free throws and Goodwin answered with a three-point play to tie it at 69 before Watkins came back with a jumper that set the stage for the dramatic final minutes.

Watkins converted a three-point play to give the Falcons a 76-74 lead with 1:13 left in overtime, but Goodwin gave the lead back to the Bears with a 25-footer less than 10 seconds later.

Bryan Colson tied the game on a free throw with 21 seconds left before Featherstone finally clinched it for the Bears with his free throw.

“I thought everybody did a great job of controlling all the emotion that was in this little building tonight,” Davis said. “And it was a lot of fun. I was just incredibly proud of everybody involved on both teams, our security and our administration, the fans, everybody — I thought it was great.”

Zeigler led Sylvan Hills (16-3, 8-0) with 12 points and 11 rebounds and post player Devin Pearson had eight points and 13 rebounds. Goodwin added eight rebounds and three steals.

Watkins scored 19 points for the Falcons (10-11, 6-2) while Colson added 16 points and 12 rebounds. Senior forward Michael Cross had nine points.

North Pulaski guard Shyheim Barron kept his team energized with six points in the first quarter, including two baskets off steals.

Barron swiped the ball from Goodwin and drove the lane, missing the first shot but getting his own rebound and a putback to give the Falcons an 11-9 lead with 58 seconds left in the first quarter.

Goodwin struggled with just three points in the first period before warming up late in the second.

Spicer gave the Falcons another boost to start the second quarter with back-to-back three pointers before he assisted Colson on a shot that gave North Pulaski a 20-9 lead.

Barron gave the Falcons their biggest lead when he got another steal from Goodwin and took it for a lay-up to make it 22-9 with 6:32 left in the half.

Goodwin then settled in and went on a nine-point run, as the Bears slowly pulled back into it and tied the game 27-27 at halftime.