Saturday, January 05, 2013

SPORT STORY >> Sylvan Hills girls top McClellan

Leader sportswriter

The Sylvan Hills ladies trailed Little Rock McClellan by one at halftime in their 5A Central Conference opener, but a big third quarter helped catapult the Lady Bears to a 39-33 victory Friday at McClellan High School.

Sylvan Hills outscored McClellan 12-3 in the third to take a 30-22 lead heading into the final quarter. It was the only quarter that the Lady Bears were able to outscore its 5A Central Conference foe.

Yesterday’s game was the Lady Bears’ first since Dec. 21. In that game Sylvan Hills lost handily to Vilonia at home. Sylvan Hills coach Shelley Davis was anxious to see how her team would respond after such a long layoff.

“Coming off of two weeks I felt like we looked sloppy,” Davis said. “At first they weren’t executing correctly. They were playing sloppy and kind of laid back. But I knew if we could keep on with it that we’d eventually get some turnovers.”

The first half was close as the Lady Lions led 12-11 after the opening quarter, and held a one-point lead at the break. Calyn Fulton found DeQuandra Robinson underneath the basket and Robinson’s bucket made the score 19-18 at the end of two quarters.

Sylvan Hills played its best basketball of the night in the next eight minutes. Senior two guard Naomi Gregory scored back-to-back baskets to open the third quarter, which gave the Lady Bears a three-point lead.

Fellow senior Val Jarrett made the back end of a two-shot foul to put Sylvan Hills up four. Sophomore guard Jessica Brasfield added four points in the quarter and Gregory scored the final three points of the third for the Lady Bears on free throws.

“I felt like we stepped up our press and played it like we were supposed to play it in the third quarter and it caused turnovers,” Davis said. “At first we weren’t even running, we were just standing there. But they came out and played better in the press in the third quarter.”

McClellan outscored Sylvan Hills 11-9 in the fourth, but a couple of those baskets came late with the game already out of reach. The Lady Bears (5-6, 1-0) went 5 for 7 at the free throw line in the quarter, which kept the Lady Lions (1-6, 0-1) from making a serious run in the final minutes.

With one second to play, Justina Lanigan scored on a rebound and put-back to set the final score. Sylvan Hills did suffer a setback in the winning effort. Gregory left the game about midway through the fourth after re-aggravating a previous knee injury.

“She just hurt her leg two weeks ago,” Davis said of Gregory. “Finally we got it better. We’d been taping it, taping it, and taping it. Tonight she didn’t play with tape on it or anything and she stepped on a kid’s foot.

“And the way she landed on it had to hurt because it was still so tender. She probably won’t be back for another week and a half or two.”

Sylvan Hills won despite narrowly losing the rebounding battle 33-30. The Lady Bears committed one fewer turnover than the Lady Lions with 24. Sylvan Hills was also the better team at the free-throw line, making 59 percent of its shots at the line compared to McClellan’s 35 percent.

Gregory led the Lady Bears with 18 points. Fulton scored six. Brasfield scored five. Jarrett and Jalmedal Byrd scored four apiece, and Robinson added two.

Sylvan Hills will look to stay unbeaten in 5A Central play against Mills University Studies on Tuesday at Little Rock.