Friday, December 30, 2011

SPORTS >> Beebe forces tempo, beats rival Lonoke

Leader sportswriter

Depth and rebounding made the difference as Beebe rolled to a 59-45 victory over Lonoke in the semifinal round of Beebe’s First Security Bank/Gilliam Farms Holiday Classic basketball tournament at Badger Sports Arena on Thursday.

The Badgers (9-2) flew to a 21-11 lead at the end of the first quarter and stretched the margin further in the second quarter. Lonoke (9-3) was more limited in its offense, relying mostly on senior guard Tarrale Watson and super sophomore Blake Mack.

Watson led all scorers with 17 points for the Jackrabbits and played well despite facing double and sometimes triple teams.

“He’s a great ball player,” Beebe head coach Ryan Marshall said. “He hurt us; he hit some tough shots, but we kind of ran three guys at him. I thought overall, the key was rebounding and getting out in transition where we could get some easy buckets.”

Mack added 12 points for the Jackrabbits in a physical performance.

Beebe got 14 points from Scott to lead the way, along with 13 points from junior Austin Burroughs and nine points for sophomore guard Tanner Chapman.

“That’s kind of the group we’ve got,” Marshall said. “We feel like we’ve got anywhere from six to eight players who on any given night are going to get it done. Teams are going to have to pick their poison with us, and hopefully, we can figure out the guys whose night it is to take care of business.”

Scott broke an early 9-9 tie with a dunk at the 4:41 mark of the first quarter to start a 10-2 run for the Badgers. Junior sub Jake Schlenker hit a pull up in the lane before Jones scored on an inbound play to give Beebe a 15-9 lead. Scott got another dunk, this time from a steal near midcourt to make it 17-9 with 1:42 left to play in the opening period. Watson finally scored for Lonoke, but Beebe finished the frame with a basket by sophomore Zach Baker and a put back by Scott to make it 21-11 heading into the second.

Baker finished with four points and had two early rebounds, but it was his presence in the lane on defense that made the biggest difference for Beebe.

“I told him in the locker room I thought it was his best minutes by far,” Marshall said. “He was focused, and had a great effort tonight. He was pretty active on the boards there in the first half.”

The Badgers dominated on the boards 30-11, including a game high eight for Scott, seven for Burroughs and six apiece for Jones and senior point guard Brandon Fuller.

Chapman caught Lonoke’s defense off guard in the third quarter with a quick string of three pointers that helped the Badgers extend their lead to 43-29 with 2:22 remaining.

“We missed some free throws in the first half,” Marshall said. “We didn’t finish well with some chip shots in the second half, but overall, we got the job done and played pretty well.”

The Badgers had an easy time with Des Arc in the first round and won 65-44 while Lonoke went to the wire with England in a 62-61 shootout victory for the Jackrabbits on Wednesday.

Beebe played Pulaski Academy in the championship game on Friday while Lonoke took on Harding Academy in the third place game.