Tuesday, December 30, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Badgers survive against SH ladies

Leader sports editor

The first round of the Beebe First Security Bank/Steve Gilliam Christmas Tournament wasn’t an easy one for the Lady Badgers on Saturday. The host team found itself in a tussle throughout with 5A-Central Conference mate Sylvan Hills, but pulled out a win with seven-straight points in the final 97 seconds to prevail 42-41 over the Lady Bears.

“We just got lucky,” said Beebe coach Greg Richey. “We just didn’t play very well offensively. We struggled shooting the ball tonight, but we found a way. I told the girls, hey, I still believe in you. And they went out and found a way.”

All four quarters ended with a one-point margin. Sylvan Hills led by one at the end of the first and third, and Beebe after the second and fourth. The Lady Bears took a 41-35 lead with 2:09 remaining on a pair of free throws by senior point guard Jessica Brasfield.

Sylvan Hills got a defensive stop when Beebe point guard Taylor McGraw missed a midrange jumper and Sylvan Hills’ Alana Canady got the rebound. But Canady’s outlet pass was deflected by Beebe’s Taylor Harris, who also chased down the loose ball. She passed inside to Ashlyn Johnson who was fouled by Canady – her fifth.

Johnson hit both ends of her 1-and-1 to make it 41-37 with 1:37 remaining. The Lady Bears turned it over again, but Beebe returned the favor, giving Sylvan Hills possession with 1:04 left.

Sylvan Hills’ Jahnay Duncan then lobbed a pass too high and soft against Beebe’s press, and Johnson picked it off. She drove to the basket on the ensuing possession, scored and was fouled with 36 seconds remaining. She made the free throw to make it 41-40.

Harris then got another steal for Beebe and was fouled. She also made both ends of her 1-and-1 with 29 seconds to go to set the final margin.

With the lead, the Lady Badgers sank back into a 1-2-1 and allowed Sylvan Hills’ Sarah Beckwith to fire a three, but it was off the mark and bounced out of bounds with nine seconds left, but it wasn’t quite over yet.

Duncan got a steal on Beebe’s next possession and passed to Brasfield, who got a clean look at a layup and missed, got the offensive rebound and missed again as the buzzer sounded.

“I know we were supposed to be an easy win for them in their home tournament, so you do take a little bit of confidence away from the game,” said Sylvan Hills coach Shelley Davis. “But then again, we had that game and we just didn’t close it out. We turned it over three or four right in a row after we got a little lead, and we basically just gave it away. That’s what’s so disappointing. We had it, and we gave it away.”

Beebe’s biggest lead came early in the second quarter when it scored the first five points to take a 17-13 lead. Sylvan Hills led by six twice, the first time coming early on a 7-0 run to start the third quarter for a 27-21 advantage.

The Lady Bears led 32-38 late in the third and had three possessions to extend it, but missed point blank layups on two of those possessions and turned it over on the other.

Beebe answered with a 5-0 run, all five by Harris, who hit a 3-pointer and two free throws.

Sylvan Hills also struggled from the floor, finishing 13 of 47 shooting, and just 8 of 33 from two-point range. Beebe was 13 of 49 overall while 10 of 33 from two-point range. Sylvan Hills outrebounded Beebe 30-26. The Lady Badgers were 13 of 21 from the foul line while Sylvan Hills went 10 of 17.

Neither team took very good care of the ball either. Sylvan Hills had 22 turnovers to 20 for Beebe. Johnson led the Lady Badgers (3-7) with 12 points while Harris added 11. Brasfield and sophomore shooter Storm Ellis led Sylvan Hills (3-6) with 12 points apiece.

Look for details of the final two rounds of the tournament in Saturday’s edition of The Leader.