Wednesday, January 15, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Badgers get sweep of visiting Chicks

Leader sportswriter

The Beebe boys’ and girls’ basketball teams both won their 5A East Conference openers Friday at home against Blytheville. The Lady Badgers dominated the Lady Chickasaws en route to a 62-34 win, while the Badgers won a nail-biter in the nightcap, 46-45.

In the boys’ game, Beebe trailed by five points with about three-and-a-half minutes to play, but the Badger defense got some key stops down the stretch, which allowed the host team to cut Blytheville’s lead to one late in the game.

Trailing by a point with two seconds to play, Beebe had the ball underneath its own basket. On the inbound pass, the Badgers (4-8, 1-0) got the ball to senior post player Zach Baker, who was fouled on an inside shot attempt with .02 seconds left.

Baker calmly sank the first free throw, and drained the second as well to set the final score and give Beebe the hard-fought, dramatic win. The Badgers had somewhat of a rough start this season, primarily because of a lack of depth due to various injuries that plagued the team.

However, Beebe is getting healthy at the right time, and just being able to open conference play with a win could be the shot in the arm the team needs.

“It’s great,” said Beebe coach Ryan Marshall of the win. “The way the season’s been going, we really stressed to the kids that everybody is zero and zero. This nonconference stuff doesn’t count for anything as far as our goals are concerned. So it was big for them to get a win and get a little shot in the arm and get some confidence.”

It was a close game through all four quarters with the two teams trading leads on several occasions. Blytheville led 9-5 at the end of the first quarter, but Beebe battled back in the second to take a 21-20 lead into halftime.

Blytheville came back in the third and led 35-34 at the start of the fourth, but the Badgers narrowly outscored the Chickasaws 12-10 in the final eight minutes to set the final score.

Baker led all scorers with 21 points. Senior point guard Tanner Chapman was the only other Badger to finish in double figures. He scored 11, and junior two-guard Tyler Childress added eight for Beebe.

The girls’ game wasn’t nearly as exciting, as the Lady Badgers (7-4, 1-0) dominated from start to finish. The Lady Badgers led 12-6 at the end of the first quarter, and outscored the Lady Chickasaws 20-5 in the second quarter to lead 32-11 at halftime.

The second half was much closer in the scorebook, but Beebe still managed to outscore its opponent 30-23 to set the final score.

“We had control of the game most of the night,” said Beebe girls’ coach Greg Richey. “We played pretty good defense, got a few steals early and just kind of ran away from them. They’re not a bad team, but they had a long trip and we got started early on them, and they just never really recovered from it.”

Senior standout guard Kalela Miller led the Lady Badgers with a game-high 23 points. Sophomore post player Gracie Anders added 10 points for Beebe. Anders also had four rebounds, four blocks and four steals.

Both Beebe teams continued conference play yesterday against Batesville at home, and both will travel to Paragould on Friday for more 5A East action.

The girls’ game tips off at approximately 6 p.m. Friday. The boys’ game will follow at 7:30.