Friday, January 20, 2012

SPORTS >> Beebe girls’ focus lost, regained in league play

Leader sportswriter

Their focus may have been inconsistent, but depth and talent prevailed as the Beebe Lady Badgers routed struggling Batesville 67-35 at Badger Sports Arena on Thursday to improve their overall record to 12-3 and their 5A-East Conference standing at 2-1.

Beebe dominated the first half and built a 37-18 lead, but the Lady Pioneers (2-12, 0-3) took advantage of lackadaisical play from the Lady Badgers early in the third quarter to chip into the lead.

Head coach Greg Richie got the group refocused, and the lead was up to 23 by the end of the frame and finally 30 midway through the final period.

“I could see it coming,” Richie said. “I saw it coming at halftime when I was talking to them, and you could tell they were beginning not to take this game seriously, and I could see when they came back out there that they were kind of dragging around a little bit.”

Junior guard Jamie Jackson got things revamped for the Lady Badgers with five straight steals to end the third quarter, which led to 10 of her 19 points. Sophomore Kalela Miller then started off the fourth quarter with a free throw followed by an inside basket to give Beebe a 56-30 lead with 6:45 remaining.

That set up Lady Badger junior reserve Sydney Gunter to finish off Batesville with a pair of outside shots, including a three-point basket at the 5:39 mark to set the sportsmanship/timing continuous clock in motion.

The Lady Pioneers focused much of their defensive efforts on Beebe sophomore post player Angelina Williams early on, using as many as three players to guard the 6-3 standout in some instances.

That opened the door for Miller inside with some solid assists from Jackson and senior guard Sarah White.

“We try to get to that short corner,” Richie said. “That’s part of our offense. And if she’ll get out there far enough, and we’ll rotate the ball fast enough, she’ll get open. And it leaves a lane for her to get to the basket. She was taking advantage of it in the first half.

“At half, she got a little indifferent with even wanting to be out there it looked like – just kind of not taking the game seriously. Those things were still there, we just didn’t take advantage of them like we did early.”

Richie attributed much of Miller’s second-half effort to sophomore inexperience.

“That’s part of it, but she’s working on it,” Richie said. “She’s going to get better and better as the year goes.”

Miller led the Lady Badgers with 23 points while Williams finished with eight points.

Added defensive pressure from Batesville was only part of the story for Williams, who was not 100 percent due to illness. Jackson was one Lady Badger hitting on all cylinders throughout. She finished with seven steals, five rebounds and four assists to go along with her 19-point offensive performance.

“We kind of moved her around a little tonight,” Richie said. “We did a little more with our offense, and moving her from the point to the wing. She had some nice assists in to Angelina. She got the ball in, and we’re going to do more of that. We’re going to try and get her in positions where we can make passes in and drive from the wing instead of from the front.

“Defensively, she’s just stepping up and being a really good team leader.”

The Lady Badgers played at Greene County Tech last night after Leader deadlines, and will continue 5A East play at Forrest City on Tuesday.