Tuesday, March 08, 2011

SPORTS >> Bears set for prime time

Leader sportswriter

It may sound like the title of a 1970’s situation comedy, but “The Archie and Isaac Show” promises to be more entertaining.

The showdown between Sylvan Hills’ junior shooting guard Archie Goodwin and Alma’s senior point guard Isaac McCoy won’t follow a special episode of “Three’s Company” or “That’s My Mama”, and it can only be seen at Summit Arena in Hot Springs when the Bears (25-3) and Airedales (23-6) play for the 5A state championship Friday.

Tipoff is 7 p.m.

The Bears punched their ticket Saturday with a 56-43 victory over Siloam Springs in the semifinals at Alma. Goodwin led the team with a game-high 29 points, but it was the 75-73 nail biter over Harrison two days earlier that drew the most attention.

Goodwin went on a 10-point scoring run over the last two minutes to rally the Bears from a five-point deficit to victory, and he led the scoring with 38 points.

The trip to the finals is in stark contrast from a year ago, when the sophomore-laden Bears failed to qualify for the state tournament.

“They’ve definitely shown me that they’re making some high-level decisions,” Sylvan Hills coach Kevin Davis said. “But you’ve got to think, I played them as 10th-graders. You feel likeyou gamble somewhat when you play 10th-graders, because you’re going to take your lumps, but that pays off down the road.

“I think it’s pretty evident that it paid off.”

Davis, in his 13th season, led the Bears to the 2004 5A state finals, where they lost to Mills. The school’s first state tournament victory came the previous year when Sylvan Hills beat Beebe in the opening round.

The Bears reached the semifinals as a 6A program in 2006 and lost to Little Rock Parkview. The Bears also made state tournament appearances in 2007 and 2009.

The 2009 first-round loss to eventual champion Greene Co. Tech was also Goodwin’s second varsity game. He scored 22 points to lead the Bears and was named to the 5A all-tournament team as a freshman.

Goodwin scored 89 points in the three tournament games at Alma this year, averaging just under 30 per game.

“His competitiveness really took over late in the Harrison game,” Davis said. “We teach that here and try to drive that into those kids. And Archie, he took it out there, and late in the game when we had to have plays, he was able to hit two big threes and then two and-ones in that span.

“It was really fun to watch.”

The Archie and Isaac show should have a dazzling cast of supporting characters, including Bears junior forward Larry Ziegler, who displayed star power of his own at Alma. Ziegler scored 19 points and had 10 critical rebounds in the squeaker against Harrison.

The junior-laden starting lineup for Sylvan Hills also stars point guard Dion Patton, a transfer from Parkview, guard/forward Trey Smith and post player Devin Pearson.

Alma’s McCoy is joined by teammates Dee Candelaria, Austin Duerr and Greg Jansen, all proven outside shooters.

“Alma has a solid ball club,” Davis said. “Run the break extremely well, shoot the three very well. And they’re balanced all the way across their lineup. We expect a heck of a ballgame, just like the environment when we were up there.”

While Goodwin and Ziegler have put up the offensive numbers most of the season, Pearson’s physical inside play can wear down the scrappiest of competitors. Pearson, a muscular 6-5, could end up playing a starring role if the other standouts begin canceling each other out.

“I wouldn’t want to have to guard Archie all night, and I wouldn’t want Devin guarding me all night,” Davis said. “Because his motor runs all the time. His hustle is just second to none. The guy is just tenacious.”

McCoy posted numbers comparable to Goodwin’s in Alma’s three tournament victories, including 27 points against North Pulaski and 31 points and 13 rebounds against Huntsville in the semifinals. At 6-1, compared to Goodwin’s 6-5, McCoy gives up size but is able to match Goodwin in speed and shooting versatility.

“They bring so much to their ballclubs,” Davis said of Goodwin and McCoy. “To see them go head to head should be a lot of fun.”