Tuesday, January 08, 2013

SPORT STORY >> McClellan runs out on Bears

Leader sportswriter

Sylvan Hills managed to stay within striking distance of Little Rock McClellan after two quarters of play, but the Crimson Lions were too much to handle in the second half as the Bears fell 74-47 in Friday’s 5A Central Conference opener at McClellan High School.

The Bears led 8-7 midway through the opening quarter, but a 14-4 scoring run by the Crimson Lions put Sylvan Hills (3-5, 0-1) down nine by the end of the first. McClellan (7-5, 1-0) increased its lead to 14 points with a 5-0 run to start the second, but from there, the Bears steadily chipped away at the lead.

Sylvan Hills found ways to break McClellan’s press defense toward the end of the half, and with 1:32 to play, Marlon Clemmons cut the Lions’ lead back to single digits with a layup. The Bears trimmed the deficit to six by halftime on three successful free throws by Trajan Doss. Doss drained two straight with 50 seconds to go, setting the halftime score at 36-30.

“It was all about transition defense tonight,” said Sylvan Hills coach Kevin Davis. “We weren’t getting back (on the defensive end). That cost us in the first half. We dug a big hole, but we went back and tried to get in our secondary break sets, and we did, and put ourselves right back in the ball game.”

The third quarter was when the Lions all but put the game away. McClellan forced 10 Sylvan Hills turnovers in the quarter, and outscored the Bears 25-6. Derrick Hardy led the way for the Lions with eight points during the stretch. McClellan committed just one turnover in the third and held a comfortable 61-36 lead at the start of the fourth.

The fourth quarter was much more competitive than the third, but the game was already out of the Bears’ reach. McClellan narrowly outscored Sylvan Hills 13-11 in the final eight minutes. Ronnie Hinton scored the final basket of the game on a layup with 22 seconds to play.

David Johnson, Sylvan Hills’ biggest presence in the post, got into foul trouble early in the second half, which put the Bears at a disadvantage on the boards. Despite playing the majority of the second half with four fouls, Johnson had the best overall game for Sylvan Hills as he finished the conference opener with a double-double, scoring 11 points and grabbing 12 rebounds.

“We came out in the second half and I was a little disappointed,” Davis said. “I thought we gave (McClellan) too many inside, easy looks. David got in foul trouble, so we were soft. He went back out there with four fouls early in the third. So we got real soft in the paint. We were so much smaller than they were.

“Passes we thought were open, they’d close down the lanes real quick. That’s typical of McClellan. That’s what they do and how they make their living, and they’re pretty good at it. And with a young team that’s never seen that before, it was a little overwhelming for them. You just have to toss that thing up and play, and go from here. And make sure you learn from this experience, and hopefully it’ll make a young team a little better.”

Hinton led the Bears with 13 points. Doss added nine. Four players for McClellan scored in double figures. Davion Givens led the Lions with 12 points. Hardy scored 11. Jason Hendrix and Akee Johnson scored 10 apiece.

Sylvan Hills continued 5A Central play yesterday at Mills and will host Helena-West Helena Central on Friday.