Wednesday, January 30, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Badgers right the ship, top Raiders

Leader sportswriter

The Beebe Badgers boys and girls teams both picked up important 5A East Conference road victories at Nettleton on Friday. The Lady Badgers remained undefeated in league play with a 48-31 rout over the Lady Raiders while the Badger boys team got back on track with a close 54-51 decision over a talented Raiders squad.

The hard-fought victory for the Badgers (13-5, 5-1) could not have come at more crucial time following a tough, 40-point blowout loss at Wynne three days prior.

Nettleton took an early lead in the first quarter before Beebe came back to take control in the second quarter to lead 32-26 at halftime, a lead that turned out to be the biggest advantage of the game.

The Raiders briefly overtook their guest early in the third quarter, but a time out by Beebe coach Ryan Marshall to rally the troops was effective in getting momentum back on the Badgers’ side.

“It was by far our best team effort,” Marshall said. “I don’t want to say that was a must-win for us, but after what happened in Wynne, it was kind of a character check. They all played extremely well. I told them afterward that with the exception of the Alma game in the state tournament last year, that was probably our biggest win as a program.”

Junior point guard Tanner Chapman and senior forward Austin Burroughs shared leading-scorer honors with 19 points each. Marshall also noted the strong defensive effort of senior guard Vann Kersey.

“We took charge about the middle of the second quarter,” Marshall said. “We really started to find a good rhythm. I think going up by five with two or three minutes to go, and especially with the ball in Tanner’s hands, we started to feel pretty good about things at that point.”

Following the Badgers’ first mercy-ruled loss in nearly three seasons at the hands of Wynne last Tuesday, Marshall was pleased to see his team turn things around quickly as the first round-robin of 5A East play comes to a close.

“I don’t know if it was a relief as much as it was a satisfaction,” Marshall said. “I thought I knew what we were made of, and to see them respond was kind of a confidence boost in knowing that we were spot on with what we believed about them. It was also a confidence boost for the kids.”

The Lady Badgers improved to 15-5 overall and 5-0 in the 5A East as Jamie Jackson led the way with 23 points while junior guard Kalela Miller added 10 points. Madison Richey had five points, with four points for Mackenzie Bingham and three points each for seniors Kelsie Brockway and Whitney Emison. The victory marked the ninth straight for Beebe.

The Beebe teams hosted Forrest City last night in a pair of 5A East Conference make-up games that were canceled back on Jan. 15.