Friday, February 24, 2012

SPORTS >> Beebe girls can’t snap Paragould win streak

Leader sportswriter

Paragould’s pursuit of perfection in the 5A-East Conference came under serious fire in the final quarter against Beebe on Tuesday, but a last-second lay up by junior guard Carson Gill lifted the Lady Rams to a narrow 33-31 victory at Badger Sports Arena on Tuesday to close out the regular season.

The Lady Badgers (20-7, 10-4) fell behind 29-19 early in the fourth quarter before going on a 12-2 run down the stretch to tie the game at 31 with 53 seconds left to play. Beebe kept up the defensive pressure on the other side and forced the ball out three different times before the final inbounds play with just under eight seconds remaining led to the backdoor-style shot from Gill.

The Lady Rams (23-4, 14-0) had already wrapped up the East title the week before but came into the hostile environment at Beebe with something still left to prove in preparation for the 5A state tournament at Greene County Tech beginning on Tuesday.

“We kind of expected that coming in,” Lady Rams coach Jay Cook said. “We had one similar to that early in the conference season. They’re second in the conference for a reason – they’re a really good basketball team.”

Savannah Walker gave the Lady Rams their biggest lead of the game when she scored inside to make it 29-19 with 5:46 left to play. Beebe senior guard Sarah White cut the margin back to eight with a pair of free throws at the 5:36 mark, and junior guard Jamie Jackson gave the Lady Badgers a spark when she got a steal and lay up with 4:35 left to play to make it 29-23.

Sophomore Kalela Miller got Beebe to within 29-25 when she drove for a lay up on the right side with 3:49 remaining, and cut it to two with a 10-footer at the 2:49 mark.

Paragould senior Morgan Tripod made two free throws before Jackson came back with a lay up for Beebe to make it 31-29 with 2:04 left to play.

That’s how the score stayed until 53 seconds remained. Miller found Lady Badgers post player Angelina Williams and assisted her for an inside shot that tied it at 31.

“I kept telling them in the timeouts that you need to be state-tournament tough,” Lady Badgers coach Greg Richey said. “This is your test, right here. Now go back out there and see if you can mount a comeback on them. And they did – they just kept making plays and tied it – got close.”

Miller led the Lady Badgers with 12 points while Jackson finished with eight points and Williams had six points. It also marked the final home game for White and fellow starting guard Alexis Miguel, along with classmates Ashley Pursell and Miranda Spriggs.

For Paragould, Rachel Dicus led with 10 points while Morgan Tripod and Savannah Walker each added eight points.

“It’s been a grind,” Cook said of his team’s unbeaten league campaign. “For three years, we’ve been fighting like crazy to get here to this point where we’re a contender. We feel like we have a chance to win every game. Now it’s a different fight – you’re fighting to stay there.”

Paragould will begin 5A state tournament play on Tuesday at 7 p.m. against Mills University Studies, the No. 4 seed out of the 5A Southeast Conference. Beebe will play at the same time the following day against White Hall, the No. 3 Southeast Seed.