Tuesday, February 19, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Badgers after top seed for playoffs

Leader sportswriter

The combined scoring attack of Austin Burroughs and Zach Baker proved too much for visiting Nettleton as Beebe eased its way to a 56-44 victory over the Raiders at Badger Sports Arena on Friday to stay atop the 5A East Conference standings.

The Badgers (19-6, 10-2) pushed their advantage to 46-22 by the end of the third quarter before going with subs for most of the final period. Burroughs, Beebe’s dynamic senior forward, finished with 20 points while junior post player Baker was right behind him with 18 points to make up all but eight of the Badgers’ total points.

Three inside shots by Baker in the first quarter, along with a pair of three-point baskets by Burroughs in the opening eight minutes, gave the Badgers an early 12-6 lead through one, and the hosts never looked back.

“That’s something we’ve been wanting the last few weeks is a much better start,” Beebe coach Ryan Marshall said. “Austin putting the ball in the hole the way he did obviously helped that out. I thought we were locked in pretty well defensively. The thing I really liked about it was we got up and never really gave them a chance of winning.”

Both teams had a decent night percentage wise as Beebe went 49 percent (20 of 41) from the floor while the Raiders were 44 percent (19 of 43). The biggest difference for the Badgers was their rebounding advantage in which they finished with 25 boards while holding Nettleton to 13 rebounds.

Senior post player Jared Gowen led the Badgers on the rebounding front with six, many of which he pulled from the reach of unsuspecting Nettleton players underneath.

“Jared has been such a plus for us,” Marshall said. “For two years as a sophomore and junior, he practiced and busted his butt every day. He didn’t get to play a lot of minutes, and of course this year, he’s started for us 90 percent of the time. He does what he can do, and that’s part of having a good ball club is having kids who know their role. He’s just really been a pleasure to have.”

The Raiders doubled their points in the final frame as Beebe sat out most of its starters, particularly junior point guard Tanner Chapman, who has started the past two games despite a nagging knee injury. It is believed Chapman tore his meniscus against Batesville back on Feb. 5.

“We had a couple of kids who needed to rest from an injury standpoint,” Marshall said. “We didn’t want to keep them out there. Don’t think that group didn’t hear about it in the locker room about giving up what they gave up. We don’t want to finish games like that.”

With the victory, the Badgers clinched a spot in the 5A state playoffs regardless of how the final week of conference plays out.

Beebe hosted Wynne last night in a game that could provide redemption after the Yellowjackets embarrassed the Badgers 67-27 last month in Wynne.

Beebe has to win that game or its final East game against Paragould on Friday in order to clinch the conference title outright.