Friday, June 27, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Persson, Miller named All-Star MVP’s

Leader sports editor

Two local athletes were named girls All-Star game Most Valuable Players in their respective sports this week at UCA. Beebe’s Kalela Miller led the East girls basketball team to an 80-58 victory on Thursday night in the Farris Center.

The day before at the Bill Stephens Complex, Sylvan Hills’ Abigail Persson scored the game-winning goal for the East to earn MVP honors in a rain-soaked soccer match.

Soccer matches were delayed for an hour and 40 minutes while storms passed through Conway, and when play finally resumed, all players had trouble with footing. Those troubles led to a scoreless regulation in boys and girls action. Even in penalty kicks, six of the first 10 attempts failed and ended with the score still tied.

That brought on sudden death, and after a West miss, Persson put an end to the match with a late adjustment and a goal in the left corner.

That adjustment went against the advice of her father and Sylvan Hills coach Nate Persson, but worked out just the same.

“My dad always told me to always know where you’re going to go and don’t change because usually you’ll end up going right down the middle if you change,” Abigail Persson said. “I decided when I went up there I was going to go right, but in the middle of running up to the ball, I saw the goalie already breaking that way, so I had to quickly change. That’s sort of against what my dad always said, but I knew if I went right she was going to get a stop.”

East coach Sheffield Duke told his players during practices on Tuesday that everyone would play 20 minutes, and that the second half the best girls were going to play. That gave Persson some motivation and she did the best she could to earn that second-half playing time.

“I knew I had 20 minutes to prove I belonged out there for the second half,” Persson said. “Conditions weren’t great for any of us. It was very wet and slippery, but I was happy that I got to play the second half.”

Nate Persson believed she earned the right as well.

“She managed to break loose a few times but the footing was just terrible and there wasn’t much you could do with the ball in those situations,” he said. “But I was very glad that she got the opportunity she did. If it hadn’t been tied after five she wouldn’t have gotten to kick. And it was awfully kind of them to give her that honor of making her MVP.”


Former Lady Badger Kalela Miller scored a game-high 25 points and led a 17-4 run at the start of the second half that put the East team in control of their 80-58 victory. Miller was most dangerous at the start of each half. She scored seven points in the first four minutes of the game to lead the East to a 15-6 lead, but the West successfully slowed the pace. Once the pace slowed, the West’s bigger post players controlled much of the action, and led the team to a 40-39 halftime lead – with halftime being a misnomer since it was the end of the third period of a five-period game. Teams let three groups of five play one quarter apiece, then play the second half with normal substitutions.

The East came out again trying to force the tempo and make it a 94-foot game, and did so. Miller scored nine of the East’s 17 points in the early blitz, including a spinning reverse layup four minutes into the half.

She also sparked many of the transition buckets scored by teammates by finishing with four steals and three assists, to go along with five rebounds.


Sylvan Hills’ pitcher Michelle Sorensen started game one of the softball doubleheader and pitched well in taking the loss. She gave up just three hits while striking out six and walking none in five innings of work. But three errors in the field led to three unearned runs as the West won 4-1.

The West also won game two 3-1, but Beebe’s Madelyn Poe drove in the East’s only run with the team’s only RBI in either game.

In baseball, the East and West split their doubleheader, with the East taking game one 5-4 and the West winning game two 7-6. Cabot’s Riley Knudsen did his part for the East team in the game-two loss, hitting a two-RBI single in the fourth inning to put the East briefly ahead 4-3.

In boys’ soccer, the West won 5-3 on penalty kicks after a scoreless regulation in slippery conditions. The West team made all five of its penalty kick attempts while the East made just three of four, but Cabot’s Trevor Reed did his part, scoring the East’s final goal of the night. North Little Rock’s Heriberto missed the East’s fourth shot, making the West’s fifth shot the clincher.

In boys’ basketball, Beebe’s Tanner Chapman scored four points in helping the East continue its domination of the West since the turn of the century. The East boys’ 85-77 win gives them a record of 13-2 in All-Star games since 2000.