Wednesday, January 30, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Carlisle stuns No. 1 Lions

Leader sportswriter

Carlisle’s recent success was enough to carry over into a huge upset over top-ranked Clarendon, as the Bison leaned on their strong outside shooting in a 77-69 victory at Bison Arena on Friday.

The Lions (14-2, 9-2) came into the contest as the No. 1 team in Class 2A, but needed a victory over Carlisle to fend off Hughes for the 2A-6 Conference championship. But foul trouble, combined with an off night from the floor offensively, hampered the visitors, who spent the entire night trying to play catch-up after falling behind 38-29 at the half.

For the Bison (10-6, 8-4), the victory marked their fifth straight in league play after a difficult start to the season for the William Rountree-coached squad. They now have a chance to finish as high as third in theinal 2A-6 season standings.

“I thought we would play well,” Rountree said. “I thought we had an opportunity playing at home. They’re very good, but that’s our fifth conference win in a row. We’re playing better, and I said last year when we were mediocre that I liked this team. I just had a feeling we would play well.”

The triumph did not come without its share of hard feelings, however, as emotions ran high on the court for both teams at times – including the post-game greet, and the significant Clarendon crowd began to jeer in the fourth quarter as three of its top players exited the game early with five personal fouls.

Tensions elevated at the 3:24 mark of the third quarter when Bison forward Deron Ricks and Clarendon guard Jamen Jackson tangled up while fighting for a loose ball. Ricks ended up on top of Jackson during the fray, and Jackson got back to his feet aggressively after taking exception to the tie-up situation.

“I didn’t think we ever let it get away from us,” Rountree said. “We’re not going to back down. We’re pretty high spirited ourselves. Every once in a while you’ll take a guy out of the game, but we held our own.”

The biggest story for the Bison was their 47 percent three-point shooting (8 of 17). They stood just 2 of 6 at the half, but went over 50 percent in the second half at 6 of 11. Overall, Carlisle shot 52 percent (24 of 46) from the floor while holding the Lions to just below 50 percent at 30 of 62.

The most important of the threes for Carlisle came during a stretch in the third quarter. Clarendon closed the gap to 40-37 by the 5:46 mark, but the Bison responded with four consecutive three pointers. Senior point guard Chris Hart started the run with a three from the left wing with 5:06 left in the period, followed by a three from the other side by leading scorer Dathan Hill to make it 46-42.

The Lions finally pulled even with 3:07 remaining in the third with a lay-in by sophomore Richard Knox to make it 46 all, but Austin Reed responded for Carlisle with a trey at the 2:46 mark to give the lead back to the host at 49-46. Hill closed out the three-point run for the Bison with 2:05 remaining with a shot from the corner to boost the lead to 52-48.

Shot selection proved to be the biggest difference throughout the game for Carlisle, which hit its first six shots of the second quarter, with the first miss not coming until the 2:32 mark when Hart was just off on a three-point attempt. The Bison went 7 of 11 in the second quarter and 12 of 23 in the first half.

“We’ve got a lot of guards,” Rountree said. “To be fair, the guy who has probably improved the most over this stretch that we’ve been playing pretty good has been Edwards inside. And Clayvon, just by his presence in there, opens it up.”

Hill led the Bison with 19 points while Hart added 17 points and five rebounds. Austin Reed had 16 points and four rebounds while his brother Braden Reed finished with 12 points. Edwards rounded double-digit scorers for Carlisle with 11 points and five rebounds.

For Clarendon, Knox led all scorers with 21 points while Styleen Tyler added 19 points.

The victory marked the first time in four seasons that Carlisle has knocked off a top-ranked team, dating back to a regional-tournament victory over Abundant Life back in 2009.

“We haven’t done that in a while,” Rountree said. “It tells you how good our league is. I told the guys we’ve set the bar now to where if we go into the district tournament and stub our toe, or can’t make our way out of regionals, people are just going to say, ‘that win over Clarendon was just a fluke.’”

Carlisle played at Palestine-Wheatley last night after Leader deadlines.