Tuesday, November 25, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Bears pick up first win at MSM

Leader sportswriter

The Sylvan Hills Lady Bears picked up their first win of the season in the third round of the Mount St. Mary Heavenly Hoops Classic on Saturday, dominating Forrest City 53-31 to improve to 1-3 this season.

The Lady Bears did it with a balanced scoring attack. Forwards Aljahnay Duncan and Alana Canady led the way to a 29-12 halftime lead while guards Storm Ellis and Jessica Brasfield did most of the scoring in the second half.

Sylvan Hills gave up exactly six points in each of the first three quarters, taking a 40-18 lead into the final frame. Duncan led all scorers with 13 while Ellis added 11, Canady 10 and Brasfield eight.

In the second-round consolation game on Wednesday, Sylvan Hills held a two-point halftime lead over Mount St. Mary, but the tournament hosts did a better job of crashing the boards in the second half, which helped the Belles beat the Lady Bears by the final score of 42-34.

The first half was close throughout, and at the end of the first quarter, the score was tied at 5-5.

Duncan scored all five of Sylvan Hills’ points. Mount St. Mary scored the first point of the second quarter on a free throw, but the Lady Bears took the lead shortly after on an and-1 by Duncan.

Duncan’s and-1 put the Lady Bears up 8-6, and with 4:32 left in the half, sophomore guard Storm Ellis gave the visitors an11-6 lead with a 3-pointer. The Belles answered with a bucket before Canady sank two free throws to put the Lady Bears up 13-8 with 2:50 remaining.

Ellis scored Sylvan Hills’ final bucket of the half with another 3-pointer, this one with 1:29 remaining, but MSM scored the final three points of the half at the free-throw line, cutting the Lady Bears’ lead to 16-14.

The Belles tied the score on the first possession of the second half with a short bucket by Valerie Kauffman, and consecutive buckets by teammate Emily Engnath near the five-minute mark of the third quarter put MSM up 22-19.

A free throw and putback by Canady tied the score at 22-22 near the 3:30 mark, but MSM scored the next four points before Brasfield made two free throws for Sylvan Hills, cutting the Belles’ lead to 26-24.

Sylvan Hills’ final bucket of the third quarter came on a 3-pointer by Duncan from the top of the key with 41 seconds remaining, but MSM scored the final four points of the quarter, which put the Belles up 32-27 heading into the final eight minutes.

The Lady Bears scored the first point of the fourth quarter on a free throw by Brasfield, but then the Belles started feeding the ball inside, where they had the size advantage over the Lady Bears.

Consecutive buckets in the paint by MSM center Mary Rhinehart gave the Belles a 36-28 lead with 5:51 remaining, and forced Sylvan Hills coach Shelley Davis to call timeout.

The timeout didn’t help, though, as the Belles scored the next five points to push their lead to double digits, leading 41-28 with just over two minutes to play.

Sylvan Hills got back on the board with a steal and transition layup by Makayla Smith, and the Lady Bears got within single digits of the Belles’ lead on a putback by Duncan after a missed free throw by Canady.

However, Duncan’s putback came with just 1:34 to play, and after MSM added a free throw to its side of the scoreboard, Brasfield set the final score with a contested layup with 20 seconds remaining.

Mount St. Mary was the more dominant team on the boards, which led to more second-chance opportunities for the hosts.

The Belles outrebounded the Lady Bears 31-16, and made seven more shots at the free-throw line.

The Belles finished the game 15 of 24 from the line for 63 percent. Sylvan Hills was 8 of 20 from the stripe for 40 percent.

Duncan led the Lady Bears with 13 points and seven rebounds. Ellis had six points, and Canady and Brasfield had five points each. Kauffman led the Belles (1-3) with 13 points.