Friday, December 16, 2011

SPORTS >> Bears and Red Devils showcase talent

Leader sports editor

Jacksonville and Sylvan Hills get to take another big stage today in the Ron Crawford Arkansas Hoops Challenge at Maumelle High School, though not against each other. Jacksonville takes the floor against Razorback commitment Dederick Lee and the Clarksville Panthers at 3 p.m.

Sylvan Hills, with Kentucky-bound Archie Goodwin, takes on perennial powerhouse Pulaski Academy to close the event at 8:20 p.m. Pulaski Academy features Texas Tech commitment Dusty Hannahs, who was Goodwin’s teammate on the Arkansas Wings AAU team. The pair meet in the marquee game of the event.

Big games are featured all day long between several of the state’s top schools, and features several of the state’s top prospects.

Lee, a junior, committed very early to the University of Arkansas as a sophomore. He was drawing interest from other major schools including Memphis, Missouri and Baylor, but had only received offers from Arkansas and Tulane at the time of his verbal commitment.

He is averaging 27 points per game so far this season. The Panthers have amassed an 8-4 record against a very tough schedule so far. Losses in the Panthers’ schedule include Jacksonville-conference mates Jonesboro and Little Rock Parkview.

The Bears’ Goodwin is the biggest name in the tournament. There have been, as expected, large crowds at every Sylvan Hills game, but since the 6-foot, 5-inch guard signed early with the Kentucky Wildcats, there hasn’t been the same frenzy surrounding Bears’ games as there was a year ago.

Sylvan Hills will face a Pulaski Academy squad that is only 5-3 so far, but will be full strength for the first time this season after finishing football season with a state championship just a week ago.

Eight games are on the docket, beginning at 11 a.m. with Strong facing Shiloh Christian. Strong hasn’t had its team together all season. The Bulldogs also won the class 2A state football title. They are led by 6-5 small forward Stetson Billing. Billings has drawn interest from Louisiana Tech.

The second game features teams from opposite sides of the state with East Poinsett County taking on Siloam Springs. The Benton Panthers face Springdale at 1:40 before Jacksonville squares off with Clarksville.

At 4:20, Fayetteville gets another shot at Jonesboro. The Hurricane beat Fayetteville by 10 last week in the championship game of the Wampus Cat Invitational in Conway.

Familiar foes take the floor at 5:40 with Parkview facing Mills. Bobby Portis and the Hall Warriors then battle Forrest City at 7 p.m.

Look for details of the Jacksonville and Sylvan Hills games in Wednesday’s edition of The Leader, as well as results from the rest of the showcase games.