Saturday, February 23, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Badgers knock off Wynne, win East

Leader sportswriter

The storybook ending did not come without struggle as Beebe rallied in the fourth quarter to defeat Wynne 40-33 at Badger Sports Arena on Tuesday to claim the 5A East Conference title.

The game earned its capacity crowd for three primary reasons, senior night, a shot at wrapping up the league title, but almost as important was the fact that the Yellowjackets handed Beebe its most embarrassing loss of the season in a 67-27 blowout back on Jan. 22.

Beebe senior forward Austin Burroughs had difficulty finding his shooting touch in the first half, as the Badgers went 4 of 15 from the floor in the first quarter and 5 of 24 for the entire half.

Burroughs could not have warmed up at a better time as he hit his first three-point shot of the night with 4:20 left to play to put the Badgers up 33-31, and his second trey at the 1:53 mark gave Beebe its biggest lead up to that point at 36-31, and put momentum completely on the host’s side for the remainder.

“I was extremely proud of the way we defended,” Beebe coach Ryan Marshall said. “We held them to 19 points in the first half, but we just didn’t put the ball in the hole. We got all kinds of looks early, but they had a lot of emotions going tonight. They just played a little tight, but then Burroughs yanks a three and it’s nothing but net. It’s a shot now that’s the biggest shot of the game, but that’s Burroughs.”

The Badgers celebrated their conference championship with a net-cutting ceremony following the game.

For the game, Beebe went 33 percent (13 of 40) with a more selective shot sequence in the second half, while the Yellowjackets were just under 30 percent at 13 of 44.

Burroughs missed on a pair of early three-point attempts and had just four points at halftime but eventually went on to lead the Badgers with 14 points. Senior guard Jake Schlenker had 11 points while junior point guard Tanner Chapman and senior post player Jared Gowen each finished with six points and six rebounds, along with four steals for Chapman. Junior post player Zach Baker had six rebounds and two blocked shots.

“When we played them up there the first time, they really shaded Austin,” Marshall said. “They knew where he was at all the time. So we overloaded some things and kind of brought Austin out as a decoy, and that opened up the post for Baker and Jared.”

Beebe took its first lead of the game with 1:10 remaining in the third quarter when Gowen scored inside to make it 26-25. The lead switched hands five times after that until Burroughs put the go-ahead three pointer away in the middle of the fourth.

“It’s unreal,” Marshall said. “The thing about it is, every one of these kids wearing that jersey is going to be somebody someday. They’re all just that type of character kids. We by far don’t have the best talent in the league, but they want it simply out of character, and just the determination to compete.

“They’re also very coachable, and that’s something people take for granted. We don’t deal with suspensions, we don’t deal with discipline because they do what they’re told to do, and they expect that out of each other.”

For Wynne, Keenan Halk led with 10 points while Romontae Marrs added nine points and seven rebounds.

Beebe played at Paragould last night after Leader deadlines, and will play in the opening boys game of the upcoming 5A state tournament at Pine Bluff Convention Center next week. The Badgers will be the No. 1 seed out of the 5A East Conference, and will face the No. 4 seed out of the 5A South Tuesday at 2:30 p.m.