Friday, February 01, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Falcons fight way to league win

Leader sports editor

A breakout game for sophomore point guard Ilycia Carter came at the perfect time as the North Pulaski Lady Falcons got their first conference win on Thursday, beating Helena-West Helena Central 64-59 at the Falcon’s Nest in Jacksonville.

The Lady Falcons have been on the cusp on getting their elusive first conference win, and finally put it together on Thursday, avenging a 56-37 loss at West Helena in early January.

Carter scored a career-high 25 points, grabbed nine rebounds, dished out five assists and picked up three steals.

“We talked about her just shooting more,” North Pulaski coach Stacey Dalmut said. “She said before the game she was going for 10 points. She obviously did a lot better than that. She shot the ball well tonight when really no one else was.”

Indeed both teams shot poorly in the fast-paced game. There were 152 shots taken between the two teams. The Lady Cougars made just 34 percent on 25 of 72 shooting, but North Pulaski was even worse. The Lady Falcons were just 23 of 79 from the floor, but won the rebounding battle 51-44 and made nine more free throws than their opponent. They only made 16 of 26 attempts, but were 9 of 12 in the fourth quarter to seal the game. Carter made 5 of 6 in the final frame.

The game saw several lead changes, but North Pulaski trailed most of the way. Carter hit a three pointer with 33 seconds left in the first half to give the Lady Falcons their first lead of the game at 26-25, a score that held until intermission.

Central (4-8, 2-5) took control of the inside and of the game in the first quarter when North Pulaski center Cathy Waylan picked up her third foul in less than three minutes.

Central’s Shadaezha Baker came off the bench and dominated inside and the Lady Cougars took a 14-9 lead into the second quarter, largely on the strength of a 21-14 rebounding advantage. North Pulaski (4-11, 1-6) began to reverse that trend in the second quarter, outrebounding Central 16-5 as it gained its first lead.

The Lady Falcons pushed their lead to 30-26 early in the third quarter, but Central went on a 10-2 run for a 36-32 lead with 2:54 remaining in the third quarter.

That deficit grew to six at 44-38 with 15 seconds left in the quarter, but Carter scored four points before the end of the frame to make it 44-42 and send the Lady Falcons into the final period with the momentum. Carter hit two free throws with 14 seconds on the clock. Central then rushed a shot at the other end. Carter got the rebound with five seconds left and went the distance of the floor to hit a floater as the buzzer sounded.

The run kept going in the fourth. Raigen Thomas made one of two free throws to make it a one-point game. Talisha Nation then got a layup to put the Lady Falcons back in front with 6:45 remaining. Freshman Kiarra Evans then got a steal and an assist to Waylan, who was playing with four fouls, for a 47-44 lead and forcing a Central timeout. The break did the Lady Cougars some good. They scored the next four points after the timeout to reclaim the lead at 48-47 with 5:10 remaining. Waylan then hit one of two free throws to tie the game and it was back and forth from there.

Neither team got more than two points of separation, including one series where the lead changed hands on four consecutive baskets. Carter scored with 50 seconds left to put the Lady Falcons up 59-58. Central missed at the other end. Thomas got the rebound and the outlet to Carter, who was again fouled, and again hit two free throws for a three-point lead.

Waylan picked up her fifth foul with 15 seconds left and Baker hit one of two free throws for the Lady Cougars’ final point. Carter was fouled. This time she missed her second shot.

Central got the rebound and called timeout trailing 62-59 with 11 seconds left on the clock.

But a huge mental lapse cost the visitors a chance at winning the game. The official handed the ball to Central’s inbound passer, but no one moved or broke for the pass.

Finally Kymberlee Collier broke towards the half-court line, but it was too late and Central was called for a five-second violation.

Again Central fouled Carter and again Carter hit both free throws to set the final margin.

Evans finished with 14 points and six rebounds for the Lady Falcons. Thomas, also a freshman, scored seven points and grabbed 14 rebounds. Collier led Central in scoring with 22 points.

Delana Bedford scored 13 while Baker scored 11 and grabbed a game-high 18 rebounds.