Monday, January 12, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Bears rebound to knock off comets

Leader sportswriter

The Sylvan Hills girls shot poorly in the first half of their 5A-Central Conference opener against Mills University Studies on Tuesday at Sylvan Hills High School, but the Lady Bears, led by point guard Jessica Brasfield, turned things around in the second half, and won the conference opener 41-37.

Sylvan Hills (5-7, 1-0) made just 4 of 31 shot attempts in the first two quarters of play, and yet, were still in the ballgame by halftime, with Mills (9-6, 0-1) leading 18-12.

Though their shooting percentage wasn’t great in the second half, the Lady Bears had a much better offensive performance than the first half, making 9 of 24 shot attempts in quarters three and four, and Brasfield scored 16 of her team-high 18 points in that time to lead the hosts to the win.

Mills struck first in the second half. An and-1 by Lady Comet sophomore guard Mackenzie Tillman, who led all scorers with 19 points, scored on an and-1 at the 6:27 mark of the third quarter to give Mills its largest lead at 21-12.

Sylvan Hills, though, answered with five-straight points to cut the Lady Comets’ lead to four, and by the end of the third, the Lady Bears trimmed their deficit to 27-26. The third-quarter margin was set on an inside bucket off the glass by Sylvan Hills’ Makayla Smith with two seconds remaining.

Mills scored the first basket of the fourth quarter, but the Lady Bears answered with consecutive 3-pointers by Dabria Thompson and Sarah Beckwith. Thompson’s three tied the game at 29, and Beckwith’s three gave the Lady Bears a 32-29 lead with 7:08 to play.

Brasfield added a free throw near the 6:30 mark to further the hosts’ lead to 33-29, but Mills responded and took the lead again at 36-34. Each team added a free throw before Brasfield scored on a midrange jumper with 1:49 remaining, which tied the game at 37.

Things went south for Mills from that point on. The Lady Comets had three players on the floor with four fouls at that point, and Tillman fouled out with 1:02 left to play.

Rasia Reed fouled out with 41 seconds to play after fouling Brasfield, and Brasfield went to the line and made 1 of 2 free throws to give the Lady Bears a 38-37 lead.

Brasfield made the first free throw and missed the second, but teammate Maddison Shelton got the rebound to keep the ball in Sylvan Hills’ possession. After Lady Bears’ coach Shelley Davis called timeout, the hosts got the ball to Brasfield, who was fouled with 22.9 seconds remaining.

Brasfield made 1 of 2 free throws again to give the hosts a two-point lead, and after Mills failed to score on the ensuing possession, Brasfield got the ball and was fouled again with one second to play. This time, Brasfield made both free throws to set the final score.

The Lady Bears finished the game 13 of 55 from the floor for 24 percent. Mills made 15 of 46 shots for 33 percent. Neither team shot great from the free-throw line either, but the Lady Bears had more attempts, and therefore, more points from the stripe.

Sylvan Hills made 12 of 22 free throws for 55 percent. The Lady Comets made 5 of 10 free throws for an even 50 percent. The Lady Bears outrebounded Mills 36-33, and the hosts finished with 16 turnovers to Mills’ 21.

Brasfield was the only player for Sylvan Hills to score in double figures. Thompson’s seven points were the second-highest for the Lady Bears. Tillman added 12 rebounds to go with her game-high 19 points, and teammate Jessica Stout was the only other player for either team to score in double figures. She had 10 points.

The Lady Bears continued conference play last night at J.A. Fair after deadlines, and they’ll play host to Jacksonville in another 5A-Central game next Tuesday at 6 p.m.