Saturday, March 02, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Badgers move on

Leader staff writer

PINE BLUFF — The game was close between Beebe and Hot Springs through the first half until Jamie Jackson took over in the third quarter, as the Lady Badgers pulled away to claim a 58-47 victory over the Lady Trojans in the opening round of the class 5A state basketball tournament at the Pine Bluff Convention Center on Thursday.

Beebe (23-6, No. 2 East) held a slim 26-23 advantage going into the break, but Jackson, the Lady Badgers’ standout senior guard, scored seven consecutive points on the heels of a three-point basket by Madison Richey to start the second half. That gave Beebe a more comfortable margin at 36-23, and the Lady Trojans (18-8, No. 3 South) could never recover.

Jackson turned in one of the more dominant performances in the opening round of the tourney with a game-high 27 points, along with 15 rebounds and five steals. Hot Springs did its best to contain her in the first half, holding her to eight points, but the Division II college prospect had her way in the second half with 19 points, including a 7-of-10 performance at the free-throw line.

“We made an adjustment at halftime to where she could get to the basket a little better,” Lady Badgers coach Greg Richey said. “And she took advantage of it. I thought the girls just did what they needed to do. They started getting the ball where we needed to get it. Then we went on that run, and I told them that if we could get it up above 10, we could take over the game. We made a few mistakes, but I was really pleased with what they did.”

Junior guard Kalela Miller added 17 points while Madison Richey finished with eight points and six rebounds. Senior Whitney Emison gave the Lady Badgers an early spark with a three-point basket at the 3:19 mark of the first quarter to give Beebe an 8-6 lead, and a three by senior Sydney Gunter with 2:08 remaining in the opening period made it 13-8 Beebe.

“They made some big threes,” Richey said. “Sydney, Whitney, Madison, we had three threes there. Kalela stepped up; our three-point shooting has been better as the year has gone on, and it’s coming at a good time.”

Beebe shot a stellar 55 percent at 23 of 42 while holding Hot Springs to 35 percent at 17 of 48.

The Lady Badgers came out to the arena floor just prior to their scheduled 4 p.m. tipoff time, but had to wait another 20 minutes as Wynne and Camden Fairview went into overtime before the Yellowjackets advanced 67-65.

“We’ve been pretty loose,” Richey said. “I’ve been joking around with them quite a bit. Strangely enough, I hated that that game went into overtime in front of us, but it really gave us a little bit of time to relax. They were so keyed up, and they started relaxing a little bit, and I think that helped out.”

For Hot Springs, Ashley Clayborn led with 18 points and nine rebounds.

With the win, Beebe advanced into the quarterfinal round of the tournament, where they faced Huntsville, the No. 1 seed out of the 5A West, in the 7 p.m. game last night. The Lady Eagles easily advanced through the first round with a 70-37 rout of Sylvan Hills.

“They look like Paragould to me,” Richey said of Huntsville. “I think as a team, we’re very familiar with the style. We’re just going to have to go out there and play hard. They’ve got some big girls that are very physical. We’ve just got to run our stuff real well.”