Wednesday, February 19, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Badgers earn huge win over Tech

Leader sportswriter

Sophomore post player Gracie Anders flirted with a triple-double and the Beebe Lady Badgers avenged one of its two conference losses in the 5A-East with a 52-33 win over Greene County Tech on Friday at Badger Arena.

The win moves Beebe into a tie with GCT for second place, but the margin of victory gives the Lady Badgers the edge  in the tiebreaker. The Lady Eagles only beat Beebe 49-43 in January.

After a close three quarters of play, the Lady Badgers outscored Tech 19-5 in the fourth quarter.

Beebe (14-6, 8-2) led at the end of each quarter, but couldn’t find much separation on the scoreboard until the final quarter of play. The Lady Badgers led 13-10 after the first eight minutes, 20-19 at halftime, and took a 33-28 lead into the fourth quarter.

Lady Eagle guard Alyssa Beasley scored a bucket for Greene County Tech (14-8, 7-2) at the start of the fourth quarter that cut Beebe’s lead to three, but the visitors didn’t make another shot from the floor until the game had all but ended.

“We started spreading our 3-2 zone out a lot,” said Beebe girls’ coach Greg Richey of the fourth quarter. “I told them ‘I’m tired of watching them (GCT) shoot threes.’ The first time we played them they made eight shots inside the lane. They want to shoot threes.

“So that’s what we did there, and then we started on the offensive end, and started not turning the ball over. These girls came out and did what they needed to do.” 

Beebe outscored GCT 13-9 in the third quarter, and all of the Lady Eagles’ points in that time came from 3-point range. They didn’t make a single three in the fourth quarter.

After Beasley’s bucket, Beebe answered with a 7-0 run that pushed its lead to double digits for the first time, leading 40-30.

The 10-point lead came after Lady Badger senior Kalela Miller hit a jumper near the three-minute mark.

The Lady Eagles’ scoring drought continued, and the Lady Badgers kept their foot on the offensive accelerator. Beebe added 10 more points to its side of the scoreboard before GCTcould manage a single point.

The 17-0 run was capped with a bucket inside by Anders with 30 seconds to play, which put Beebe up 50-30.

Beasley went to the line on the Lady Eagles’ next possession and made a free throw to put an end to their scoring drought.

With 11.3 seconds left, Kassidy Elam sank a pair of free throws to cap Beebe’s points total for the night, and with two seconds remaining, GCT’s Lara White scored on an inside bucket to set the final score.

Both teams had 27 rebounds, but Beebe had the better shooting percentage.

The Lady Badgers made 18 of 40 shots from the floor for 45 percent. GCT made 13 of 50 from the field for 26 percent.

At the free-throw line, Beebe made 15 of 21 for 71 percent, bettering the Lady Eagles’ 6 of 15 showing at the stripe for 40 percent. Both teams made 25 percent of their threes, but GCT had far more attempts. The Lady Eagles were 5 for 20 from 3-point range. Beebe was 1 for 4.

Beebe finished with 13 turnovers, five fewer than GCT’s 18. The Lady Badgers committed just four in the second half, bettering the Lady Eagles’ total of 11.

Miller led all scorers with 18 points, nine of which came in the fourth quarter, which helped spark the Lady Badgers’ offensive onslaught in that time.

“When it comes crunch time, she doesn’t let us lose,” Richey said of Miller. “She only had five points at Blytheville the other night, but she was sharing the basketball, and then at Batesville she did the same thing.

“Then tonight, when she had to score she scored. That’s the sign of a good player when they start adjusting to what the defense is doing.”

Anders recorded a double-double as she scored 10 points and snagged 12 rebounds, but she also had seven blocks, which was easily a game high.

Fellow sophomore and point guard Taylor McGraw also scored in double figures. She had 13 points and four assists.

The Lady Badgers continued conference play yesterday at home against Forrest City, and will hit the road Friday for their next 5A-East game when they travel to Nettleton for a 6 p.m. tip-off.