Friday, January 20, 2012

SPORTS >> Bears defeat Falcons

Leader sports editor

North Pulaski put up a good fight, but couldn’t overcome big performances from two star players as the Falcons fell 75-53 to host Sylvan Hills Tuesday in a 5A Southeast Conference matchup in Sherwood. The Bears entered the game as heavy favorites over the 2-14 Falcons, but North Pulaski entered the game riding high after a win over Crossett in its previous game.

The wave of momentum came to a sudden halt when the Bears opened up a double-digit lead in the first quarter.

“They came out and jumped on us pretty good,” North Pulaski coach Roy Jackson said. “My guys, they never quit trying though. They fought hard and got back in it.”

The Falcons completely erased a 23-12 deficit at the end of the first quarter. Halfway through the second period, North Pulaski tied the game at 23, and briefly held a one-point lead later in the frame. But Sylvan Hills had the last word in the half.

The Bears picked up a few steals and got some easy buckets in transition. Senior guard Dion Patton struck the first huge blow to North Pulaski’s upset bid with the final shot of the half. Patton hit a long three pointer at the buzzer that turned an eight-point lead into 11 heading into intermission.

“That was a big bucket,” Jackson said. “That hurt us. We fought so hard to get back in it after that bad first quarter. If we go in down eight, that’s one thing. But that shot put us down 11 and it was like we were right back where we were.”

Sylvan Hills came out for the third quarter intent on putting the game away, and did so. The Bears held the Falcons to just nine points in the third quarter, and took a 56-36 lead into the final frame.

“We just didn’t play as smart trying to catch up as we did the first time,” Jackson said. “We started trying to force some things and turned it over a few times.

“Sylvan Hills did a good job on us too. That’s a veteran team. They have two outstanding players and a whole bunch of guys that are really good players. They know their roles and they know how to find the guys they need when they need a big shot.”

Sylvan Hills senior Archie Goodwin finished with 35 points while senior Dion Patton had 17. Senior Marvin Davis led North Pulaski with 12.

“Everybody knows about Archie,” Jackson said. “But Dion Patton is one of the best players we’ve faced too. He’s a clutch player.”

Despite the loss, Jackson was proud of his team’s effort.

My kids went in there and played their hearts out,” Jackson said. “I couldn’t fuss after the game. They played as hard as they could play and that’s all I can ask of them.”

The Lady Bears picked up their second conference win of the season, beating North Pulaski 51-13.

Junior guard Naomi Gregory had one of her best games of the season, leading the Lady Bears (4-11, 2-2) with 17 points.

North Pulaski traveled to Monticello on Friday while the Bears went to Little Rock for a showdown with Mills University Studies.

The Falcons will be back at home to face Helena-West Helena Central on Tuesday while Sylvan Hills stays on the road at Watson Chapel.