Friday, February 17, 2012

SPORTS >> ’Cats play rough, still can’t slow Bears down

Leader sports editor

If a win can be easy and difficult at the same time, Sylvan Hills got one that way on Tuesday against Watson Chapel. Playing at home for the first time in almost a month, the Bears (18-5, 10-0) beat the Wildcats 67-37 to improve to 11-0 in conference play and stay alone in first place in the 5A Southeast.

The win was easy because it wasn’t difficult for the Bears to pull away once they got the pace to their liking and began crashing the boards. It was difficult in the sense that Watson Chapel entered game intent on making it rough, especially on senior guard Archie Goodwin.

Chapel did not intend to allow Goodwin to get to the rim, and was willing to get rough and take flagrant foul calls to stop it from happening. The strategy worked only in the fact that Goodwin scored just three, two-point baskets the entire game. It didn’t work in the sense that they still lost by 30 points and Goodwin still finished with 25 points.

“They were physical and it was pretty clear they came in here with that mindset to be that way,” Sylvan Hills coach Kevin Davis said. “I thought we handled that pretty well. I thought our defensive intensity was right where it needed to be. I thought we played very aggressive, smart defense and that was the difference in the game.”

Sylvan Hills also dominated on the glass. After a slow start in which Watson Chapel got the first five rebounds of the game, the Bears finished with a whopping 53-22 advantage in rebounds.

To get that many rebounds requires a lot of missed shots, and neither team shot the ball very well. The Bears went 21 of 69 for 30 percent. Chapel was worse, hitting 13 of 54 for 24 percent.

Davis didn’t mind the poor shooting.

“You have to remember this is our first time playing here in eight games,” Davis said. “And as long as we’re getting that kind of effort on defense and rebounding, we’ll be ok until the shooting comes around. This is a pretty good shooting team so that’s going to come.”

Junior Daylon Jones came off the bench to finish with 12 points. Senior Larry Ziegler and sophomore David Johnson had nine points and seven rebounds each.

“I thought David came off the bench and gave us a big lift,” Davis said. “He got some offensive rebounds and putbacks that really got us going there in the second quarter.”

Senior Devin Pearson led all players with 13 rebounds to go with his six points. Goodwin almost had a double-double with nine rebounds.

The game was close after the first quarter with Sylvan Hills leading 14-7, but the Bears took control in the second. That’s when Jones and Johnson entered the game and combined for 12 of the Bears’ 22 second-quarter points. By halftime, the lead was up to 36-17 and was never less than 21 after the first bucket of the third quarter.

The only lull for Sylvan Hills came late in the third quarter when the game briefly fell into a free-for-all. The Bears built the lead to 54-26 with about two minutes left in the third, but the Wildcats scored the last seven points of the quarter when the Bears suddenly couldn’t hang onto the ball. After committing just six turnovers in the whole first half, Sylvan Hills gave it away nine times in the third.

They rectified the problem by going on a run to start the fourth quarter and invoking the sportsmanship rule with about three minutes remaining.

Javoine Bailey led Watson Chapel with 15 points.

The Lady Bears were on the wrong side of their lop-sided final score. Watson Chapel beat won the girls game 61-27. The game shouldn’t have been so one-sided based on effort and execution, but the Lady Bears couldn’t make a shot. Sylvan Hills shooting percentage looked more like it was shooting at carnival rims than regulation rims. The Lady Bears were 10 of 53 from the floor and six of 14 at the free-throw line.

There was also a strange event in the third quarter that severely harmed the Lady Bears already slim chances of winning the game. Behind but still within respectable striking distance at 34-18 early in the third quarter, Sylvan Hills was hit with back-to-back technical fouls while getting back on defense. The technical fouls were never explained, but after the four free throws and bucket on the ensuing possession, the score was suddenly 40-18 and things snowballed from there.

Chapel’s Chapel Jones led all players with 17 points and seven rebounds. Naomi Gregory led Sylvan Hills with 10 points.