Friday, February 08, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Bears, Devils play today

Leader sports editor

The Sylvan Hills freshmen boys team became the third local team to advance to the semifinal round of the River City Conference tournament that’s being hosted by Jacksonville High School. The Bears beat Pulaski Academy 51-48 on Thursday to join the Lady Bears and the hosting Red Devils in today’s semifinal round.

Sylvan Hills had to hold off a furious rally from the No. 6seed Bruins to advance on Thursday.

Each of the last two quarters were a mirror image of each other. The Bears led 24-16 at halftime and pushed that lead to as much as 30-18 with a hot start in the third quarter. But Pulaski Academy rallied late to pull within 34-29 by the end of the period.

That momentum did not carry over into the fourth. Sylvan Hills went with pressure to start the final frame and the Bruins couldn’t handle it. The Bears got steal after steal, and with 2:55 remaining in the game, led 46-30.

That’s usually a comfortable margin with less than three minutes to go, but the Bruins didn’t quit. They began to foul and finally started hitting three pointers.

Pulaski Academy was not shy about launching long-range shots.

The Bruins put up 22 of them before finally hitting one with 1:50 left in the game on their 23rd attempt. They would hit three more in that final 1:50, but the rally was too late.

The last one came at the buzzer to set the final margin.

The third-quarter comeback came at the free-throw line for Pulaski Academy. The Bruins got its lone basket of the third quarter in the first minute.

Sylvan Hills stretched its lead to 12 with penetration buckets by point guard Samuel Williams, but Williams also began to struggle with turnovers, which helped lead to the Bruins’ third-quarter rally. Though they didn’t make another basket, the Bruins hit 11 of 12 foul shots to pull back to within five.

Sylvan Hills’ fourth-quarter blitz was led by forward Jaylen Wright, who dominated on the inside and showed a nice shooting touch from mid-range.

Pulaski Academy finished 4 of 29 from three-point range and 13 of 62 overall from the floor. The Bruins made 18 of 23 free-throw attempts.

Sylvan Hills went 20 for 53 from the floor, including 2 of 9 from three-point range. The Bears made 7 of 12 free throws.

Williams led all scorers with 21 points. Wright added 16 points and 15 rebounds. Pulaski Academy was led by seventh-grader Trey Johnson, who finished with 18 points, 12 from the charity stripe.

The three local teams play consecutively today, with the freshmen Lady Bears taking on Watson Chapel at 10 a.m. to start things off.

The No. 1 seeded Jacksonville boys follow at 11:15 a.m. against Watson Chapel before Sylvan Hills takes on No. 2 seed Maumelle.