Tuesday, January 10, 2012

SPORTS >> Beebe stifles Chicks in East opener

Leader sportswriter

The 5A-East Conference race became clearer after just one game as Beebe clobbered Blytheville 48-26 in a lopsided battle between two projected league frontrunners at Badger Sports Arena on Friday.

The Badgers (10-3, 1-0) dominated in all phases and held the Chickasaws (8-7, 0-1) to four points through the second and third quarters combined. Beebe led 35-13 after three quarters before easing up on defensive chokehold that kept the normally sharp-shooting Chicks mostly paralyzed.

Junior Austin Burroughs led the Badgers with 18 points after an offensive performance that seemed effortless, while guards Brandon Fuller and Tanner Chapman kept the ball out of Blytheville’s hands for the most part in the second half.

“I just thought we played with great focus tonight,” Badgers coach Ryan Marshall said. “I thought we really focused in on their personnel, and their execution offensively. I don’t know the rebounding stats right now, but I don’t remember them getting any offensive rebounds. I thought we did a good job of checking them off the boards and then taking care of the ball for the most part.”

Beebe won the rebounding battle just as decisively at 29-16 and forced 15 Chickasaw turnovers while committing just six of its own. Senior forward Dayton Scott led on the boards with eight rebounds, five of which were defensive, and also added nine points.

“To be honest, they have a great ball club, but any time you’ve got that many athletes, you never really know what’s going to happen with them,” Marshall said. “We scouted them on Tuesday night, and I honestly felt like if we could take care of the ball and keep them off the boards, we had a chance to beat them. I never thought it would be that comfortable at the end, and they had one of their post players who didn’t play until the second half. He’ll make a difference when he’s healthy, and they’re going to shoot the ball a little bit better at times, but I thought we just really had a great game as far as overall basketball.”

Burroughs hit from all points on the floor with a number of shots that barely touched cord on their way through, while senior Zach May proved he could score with more than just three pointers as he drove into the paint for the majority of his 14 points.

“His confidence is just at another level,” Marshall said of Burroughs. “I watched tape on him from last year, and it’s funny to see the improvement he’s made since then, and I thought he showed leadership tonight from the standpoint that he was ready to take shots and knock them down.”

Burroughs did not get on the scoreboard until the 2:14 mark of the first quarter when he hit both ends of a two-shot foul to give the Badgers a 9-6 lead, but he owned the second quarter with 10 of Beebe’s 16 points.

The Badgers were working a second-quarter shutout on the Chickasaws until their sub point-guard made a jumper in the paint with 17 seconds left until halftime to make the margin 25-11.

Beebe hit Blytheville with an all out Zach attack to start the second half as May scored on a lay in before Zach Baker hit a jumper in the paint to give the Badgers a 29-11 lead with 6:52 remaining in the third quarter. May then scored again on another lay in off the glass to make it 31-11, and Burroughs finished the period with a basket and free throw that put Beebe’s advantage at 35-13 with 3:41 still left on the clock.

Chapman and Fuller played keep away from the Chickasaws defense the rest of the way while demonstrating their ball-handling skills, as Chapman also led defensively for Beebe with three steals. For Blytheville, Keandre Diamond led with eight points.

The Badgers were off on Tuesday and will return to 5A-East play at Paragould on Friday.