Tuesday, January 24, 2012

SPORTS >> Lady Bears impressive in victory over Mills

Leader sports editor

The Sylvan Hills Lady Bears turned in one of the best performances of their season on Friday, beating the Mills Lady Comets 53-32 at Mills to improve to 3-2 in 5A Southeast Conference play.

The Lady Bears dominated in the rebounding category and showed tremendous improvement in many aspects of the game.

Sylvan Hills jumped out to a small, early lead and never trailed. The Lady Bears led 12-7 at the end of the first quarter and scored first in the second to make it a seven-point game. Mills stormed back with six straight points to cut the margin to one with 5:32 left in the half, but scored just one more basket the rest of the quarter and never took the lead.

After taking a 23-15 lead into halftime, the Lady Bears broke the game open in the third quarter. Mills (7-10, 2-3) called timeout after Sylvan Hills scored four quick points to open the third quarter.

It didn’t help. The Lady Bears displayed some nice interior passing when post player Jamedal Byrd-Hudson found fellow post Val Jarratt underneath the basket for a layup. Senior guard Kashima Wright then scored four straight, the second off a steal and assist by sophomore Calyn Fulton.

Wright got her own steal and layup to make it 38-18 with 50 seconds left in the quarter. Each team added another bucket to make it 40-20 heading into the fourth.

“I thought they really played hard and played good defense,” Sylvan Hills coach Shelley Davis said. “We rebounded very well. Mills is a quality team.”

Jarratt finished with six points and 14 rebounds. Ten of those rebounds were in the second half.”

“I talked to her because offensively she’s struggled a little bit,” Davis said. “We have some players that do certain things well. She got some height and she’s very athletic, can jump really well. I talked to her and just said we need you to rebound. That’s one thing you can do with no excuses. She’s really stepped up and done that for us.”

Sophomore guard Naomi Gregory led Sylvan Hills in scoring with 15 points. She also had nine rebounds. She’s been a consistent scorer for Davis’ squad all season.

“If I had to name a player that’s been the most consistent all year long, it’s been Naomi,” Davis said.

Sylvan Hills handled Mills’ pressure well throughout the game, and forced several turnovers with its own pressure. Byrd-Hudson had the task of stopping Mills’ top scorer, Jasmine Perkins, when she would get the ball on the wing after a press break.

Hudson, Wright and Jarratt pressured the ball well and ended with 10 combined steals. Wright and Jarratt led the way with four apiece.

Wright finished with 13 points, six rebounds, four steals and three assists.

Byrd-Hudson had 10 points and 10 rebounds.

The Lady Bears are 5-5 since opening the season with six-straight losses. Now at 3-2 in conference play, the Lady Bears are serious contenders for a playoff spot from the 5A Southeast Conference.

“That’s been our goal from the beginning, even when we were 0-6,” Davis said. “We played some very stiff competition at the beginning. What I could see against those teams is that they played very hard. We took the effort from those games. We’ve focused in more on the little things that were hurting us and I think that’s sharpened us up. Good teams are what makes you better.”

The Lady Bears (5-11, 3-2) traveled to Watson Chapel on Tuesday and will be on the road again Friday at Crossett.