Wednesday, January 02, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Badgers win final

Leader sports editor

Harding Academy controlled the early action, but Beebe won the game and the championship of the Badger Christmas Classic 43-39 Monday at Badger Arena.

The Lady Badgers fell behind 15-7 in the first quarter while struggling to find an answer for Harding Academy’s matchup zone. Figuring it out largely came down to the dribble penetration game of Beebe guard Kalela Miller.

The junior scored 12 points in the second quarter while the Beebe defense began to stifle the Lady Wildcats’ offense.

Harding Academy (10-3) didn’t score in the second quarter until two free throws by Anna Lowry made it 17-13 with five minutes left in the first half. Beebe senior Jamie Jackson scored two free throws to make it a two-point game. Harding Academy super sophomore Riley Rose then scored four straight to make it 21-15. Miller then scored the final nine points of the half.

Her three pointer with 30 seconds remaining tied the score. After a Wildcat turnover, Miller drained another three at the buzzer to send the Badgers into intermission with a 24-21 lead.

Beebe (9-5) suffered a brief lapse of offense early in the third quarter when Harding Academy came out in a man defense. A bucket and a free throw gave the Lady Wildcats a 25-24 lead with five minutes left in the quarter.

Jackson, who scored just two points and went 0 for 10 from the floor in the first half, scored seven straight to put Beebe ahead 31-25 with 1:11 left in the third.

Miller got an old fashioned three-point play and Kelsie Brockway drained a three pointer to cap a 13-1 run and send the Lady Badgers into the fourth quarter with a 37-26 lead.

But just before the end of the quarter, Miller picked up her fourth foul. That forced Beebe into a stall offense that was effective at killing the clock, but not effective and producing points.

The Lady Wildcats were able to force three straight turnovers and cut Beebe’s lead to as little as 37-33, but it took most of the quarter to do it.

“With Miller on the bench we had to just try to run as much of the clock as we could,” Beebe coach Greg Richey said. “For the most part I thought we did a good job of that. We passed up a couple of shots we probably should have taken, but I thought our defense was good the entire game. They didn’t score a lot after getting the turnovers.”

Miller led all scorers with 23 points while Jackson finished with 12. Rose scored 14 for Harding Academy while Lowery added 10.

To advance to the title game, Beebe knocked off Pulaski Robinson and North Pulaski by mercy rule. Harding Academy beat Lonoke and Brookland.

Beebe opens conference play on the road against Blytheville on Friday.