Friday, January 25, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Bears thwart Falcon rally

Leader sports editor

Sylvan Hills picked up its first conference win of the season Tuesday, holding off a fierce comeback attempt and beating nearby rival North Pulaski 62-57 in Sherwood.

“I told my guys I needed some fighters,” Sylvan Hills coach Kevin Davis said. “When they started coming back on us, I could see it in their faces. In games past, we’d be right in it until late and then just sort of fade away. I told my guys I need to see fighters that won’t give in when it gets to those final minutes. I think we saw some guys grow up a little bit today.”

The Falcons charged back from down 34-15 at halftime to within 43-37 less than a minute into the fourth quarter. Then came the turning point in the game. The Falcons had the ball with the chance to get closer, but turned it over.

Sylvan Hills (5-8, 2-4) got a five-point possession thanks to aggressively attacking the offensive glass. Ronnie Hinton missed a baseline jumper, but David Johnson got the rebound. He missed his first attempt; Darius James got the rebound and missed. Johnson got another rebound, hit the bucket and was fouled. He missed the free throw, but James got the rebound, found Hinton on the wing, who nailed a three pointer to make it 48-37.

“Absolutely that was a key possession for us,” Davis said. “You see the life come back to us. They got it close a few more times after that. The difference was now we know we can fight them off. That was a huge possession.”

The Falcons were shorthanded in the first half. Starting forward Aaron Williamson missed the entire game after the senior was ejected from the Little Rock Christian game the previous Friday. Junior guard and the team’s leading scorer Joe Aikens was suspended for the first half by coach Roy Jackson for undisclosed reasons. Whether due to the absence of two every-day starters, or to some other reason, the Falcons were terribly out of sync on offense the whole first half. Freshman RaShawn Langston scored over half the team’s points with eight. Only one other North Pulaski starter scored a basket in the first half.

Sylvan Hills wasn’t much better in the first quarter, but the Bears caught fire from three-point range in the second. Sylvan Hills made five threes in just six attempts in the second period.

Hinton went 3 for 4 in the second while DeMonte Davidson came off the bench and drained two attempts. Hinton finished the game 5 of 6 from three-point range and the Bears hit 8 of 13 combined.

They were 9 of 36 from two-point range for a total of 42 points from the field. The Falcons hit 22 of 53 two pointers and 2 of 8 threes. The scoring difference came at the line.

North Pulaski (8-8, 2-3) played aggressive defense throughout. It created some points but it also sent the Bears to the line 39 times, where they made 20. The Falcons were just 7 of 10 on free throws.

Many of Sylvan Hills’ free throws came late in the fourth quarter when the Falcons were forced to foul in an attempt to lengthen the game.

The Bears could have put the game away earlier, but made just 9 of 22 free-throw attempts in the fourth quarter.

Aikens sparked and led the Falcons comeback attempt and finished as the game’s leading scorer despite not playing the first half. He finished with 21.

Langston scored 16 and grabbed nine rebounds while Eric Mouton added nine points for the Falcons.

Hinton led the Bears with 17 points while Johnson and Trajan Doss scored nine each. Johnson led all players with 11 rebounds while Darius James finished with eight boards.

Sylvan Hills out rebounded North Pulaski 38-28.