Saturday, July 12, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Beebe boys see large opponents

Leader sportswriter

The Beebe Badger varsity basketball team put in plenty of work at Cabot’s team basketball camp Tuesday and Thursday at Panther Arena, and even though the Badgers came up short in their exhibition games on those days, they were able to gain some valuable experience that can be utilized in the fall.

All of Beebe’s exhibition games played Tuesday and Thursday were against teams of higher classifications. On Thursday, the Badgers played two 7A teams. They lost a 37-19 decision to the host Panthers in their first game of the night, and lost what ended up being a close one against Little Rock Catholic in the nightcap, losing by a slim 35-32 margin.

The Badgers didn’t play as well as Beebe coach Ryan Marshall would’ve liked on Tuesday, losing to class 6A Russellville and Catholic, and even though Thursday’s games ultimately saw the same outcome, Marshall saw some signs of improvement from Tuesday to Thursday.

“We’re really struggling to score right now,” said Marshall. “I thought against Cabot we were much better today. We defended pretty well, but we’re outmatched. We’ve really struggled to score, but it was better today.

“Right now we’ve played bigger schools, which is good for us. Obviously, they’re bigger physically and height-wise, and that’s good for us to see. We have 15 (players) here, and eight of them are sophomores.”

That youth showed at times throughout Thursday’s games. Against Cabot, Beebe fell into a 4-0 hole early, but scored the next four points to tie the game. However, Cabot went on an 11-0 run before Badger junior Austin Moore hit his first 3-pointer of the game to cut the Panther lead to 15-7. By halftime, Cabot led 18-8.

The format for the exhibition games were two 18-minute halves with a continuous clock, and the clock only stopped for timeouts and when it was appropriate within the final two minutes of the game.

In the second half against Cabot, the Panthers had an answer for just about every Beebe bucket, which didn’t allow the Badgers to make a serious run at a comeback.

Beebe guard Bryson Bell, a junior, hit consecutive threes to cut the Cabot lead back to single digits at 24-16, but Cabot’s Hunter Southerland answered with a fast-break bucket shortly after to push the Panther lead back to double digits with 8:39 to play. From there, Cabot steadily built on its lead till the final buzzer sounded.

In Thursday’s nightcap against Catholic, Beebe fell into a monster hole early. The Rockets scored the first 12 points of the game, but thanks to Moore’s 10 first-half points, Beebe was able to cut that deficit to 20-14 by halftime.

The Rockets opened the second half with a 5-0 run to lead 25-14, but Moore sank a midrange jumper to put the Badgers within single digits of the Rocket lead yet again.

Beebe managed to trim the Rocket lead to four in the waning seconds on a pair of free throws by Moore that made the score 33-29.

Beebe was forced to foul, and Catholic got two more free throws to put the game away with 6.4 ticks remaining, which made the score 35-29, and on the game’s final possession, Moore pushed the ball up court and drew a double team, which led to Moore dishing the ball to teammate Grant Brown, who hit a corner three with 1 second remaining to set the final score of that exhibition game.

Moore led all scorers with 20 points against Catholic on Thursday. Brown, a sophomore, was second for Beebe in scoring with six points, and two-guard Tyler Childress finished with a team-high five rebounds in that game.