Tuesday, February 05, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Bears get tussle from Mills

Leader sportswriter

Offense didn’t actually come along until the latter stages of the second quarter for Sylvan Hills, but the Lady Bears took control early with strong defense on their way to a 55-45 victory over 5A Central Conference rival Mills University Studies at the SHHS gymnasium on Friday.

The Lady Bears (10-9, 6-3) limited the Lady Comets to 3 of 7 field goals in the first quarter and 2 of 7 in the second quarter, and kept the pressure up in the second half with a full-court press most of the way. That resulted in low overall numbers for Mills, which shot 42 percent (16 of 38) for the game. Sylvan Hills got to the rack more often, but came out worse percentage wise at 33 percent (16 of 49).

Another key stat for Sylvan Hills was the 24 turnovers it forced by the Lady Comets, 16 of which were steals.

“First half, we probably missed six or seven layups,” Lady Bears coach Shelley Davis said. “We were up two, we should have been up 16. They were trying to hustle, but we were in a hurry and didn’t concentrate on making the shots. When we started to slow the pace down a little and started concentrating on what we were doing, I thought the shots were going in and caused the lead to go back up a little.”

Seniors Naomi Gregory and Jalmedal Byrd shared leading-scorer honors with 14 points each for Sylvan Hills. Gregory also had five steals and five rebounds while Byrd had five rebounds and four steals. Both players found success in transition with many of those steals, as the Lady Bears went up 25-17 at halftime and controlled things 40-25 at the end of three quarters.

The Lady Bears stayed aggressive on defense, contesting shots and making possessions generally difficult for Mills. Gregory and Byrd applied man-to-man pressure against Mills’ guards while zone defense denied inside.

“We’re playing a 2-3 right now, but I could tell they were nervous about handling the ball,” Davis said. “So I just pulled those two up to play. Basically, the top two guards were in a man and everybody else was back in that zone. When we did that, it caused them to throw it away where we could get some steals going, and it worked. We got some steals off it and some layups. We just tried to put a little more pressure out on the guards.”

Jessica Brasfield added nine points and four steals for Sylvan Hills while Ryan Hendricks finished with seven points and four rebounds.

Things did not go as well for the home team in the final game as Mills downed the Bears boys 53-47. The Comets (11-8, 5-3) controlled things from the start, but could never build a lead any larger than 12 points.

For the Bears (5-11, 2-7), it was yet another of many installments this season in which they were talented enough to stay close but not experienced enough to come back, as Mills built a 28-18 lead at halftime and held off a fourth-quarter run by its host.

“We go out and play a great first quarter, moving the basketball,” Mills coach Raymond Cooper said. “And then from the second quarter, we got into individualistic play. We start holding the ball, passing up open people. Then, Sylvan Hills makes a great run, they’re going to come back. That’s a good team with pride, they were at home, guys who can make shots. And then, all of a sudden, let’s go back and run the offense again.”

The two teams shot similar from the floor as Mills went 46 percent (17 of 37) while the Bears were 43 percent at 17 of 40.

Things started slow for the Bears as they were just 5 for 23 in the first half, but they went 7 for 9 in the third quarter, including a perfect 3 for 3 on three-point attempts.

Post player Aumoni Armond led the Bears with 12 points and four rebounds while junior guard Ronnie Hinton added 11 points. For Mills, Kaylon Tappin led with 16 points and five rebounds and junior guard Omar Avance had 11 points.

Sylvan Hills will host Little Rock Christian Academy on Friday.