Wednesday, January 07, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Bears drop pair at PB

Leader sportswriter

PINE BLUFF – The Sylvan Hills boys ended the 2015 Zebra Holiday Tournament at Pine Bluff High School with a 47-39 loss to fellow 5A-Central Conference member J.A. Fair in the fifth-place game on Saturday, and with the loss, the Bears finished the tournament with a 1-2 record.

The Bears dropped their first game of the tournament to Mills, also from the 5A-Central, on Dec. 30, but on Friday, Sylvan Hills advanced to Saturday’s fifth-place game with a 52-41 win over a tall Hamburg team.

Even though the Bears (5-5) didn’t finish the eight-team tournament with a win, Sylvan Hills coach Kevin Davis was glad that his team got to see some of the level of competition they’ll face for the rest of the regular season, with conference play starting this week.

“We wanted to be here because we wanted to compete against the level of athleticism and the level of play that we’re going to see in our conference,” said Davis. “There are four of our conference teams here (Sylvan Hills, Mills, McClellan and Fair). So we definitely got to see it.

“This is a young team with not a lot of size and not a lot of depth. They’re 5-5 right now and they’ve had some really, really good wins, and that’s the most we’ve lost by was eight (points). They’re playing people tough and they’re competing hard, it’s just a process.

“We’ve just got to keep trying to grow up into a varsity team. I think it was important for us to be here and our kids to see how close they are and what they needed to do to try to be able to turn the corner.”

Sylvan Hills had to play Saturday’s game against Fair without starting two-guard Dexter Smith, who was out with an injured wrist. Smith scored in double figures in each of the Bears’ first two games of the tournament, so not having him in the lineup caused some disruption in the Bears’ offensive game plan.

Starting guard Cordy Winston, though, one of the more prolific scorers in the 5A-Central, drained two 3-pointers at the start of the game to give the Bears a 6-2 lead. However, the War Eagles finished the quarter with a 7-1 run to lead 9-7 at the start of the second quarter.
Fair pushed its lead to five by halftime. Leading 20-17 with 25 seconds left in the half, the War Eagles held for the last shot and scored on a Kevon Bryant bucket with one second remaining, which set the halftime margin at 22-17.

Winston drained a corner three 29 seconds into the third quarter, which cut Fair’s lead to 22-20, but the War Eagles answered with a 12-0 run that pushed their lead to double digits, leading 34-22.

That run was led by Fair leading scorer Jerrick Cole, who made it a 12-point game with a long 3-pointer with 3:45 left in the third. That forced Davis to call timeout, and by the end of the period, Sylvan Hills made it a single-digit game, with Fair leading 38-30.

The Bears got within six of Fair’s lead in the fourth quarter, but that was as close as they’d get to catching up with the War Eagles in the final eight minutes. A Jordan Washington free throw made the score 41-35 with 5:35 remaining, but Fair pushed its lead to 47-37 by the 1:30 mark.

With just over a minute to play, Washington set the final score with an inside bucket.

The Bears finished the game 15 of 42 shooting for 36 percent. Fair finished the game 19 of 43 from the floor for 44 percent. The rebounding and turnover numbers were identical. Each team grabbed 22 rebounds and each team had 13 turnovers.

Cole led all scorers Saturday with 24 points. Winston led Sylvan Hills with 19 points, and Washington led all players with 11 rebounds.

In Friday’s consolation game against Hamburg, the Bears led 6-2 at the end of the first quarter and 20-14 at halftime. Sylvan Hills outscored Hamburg 14-9 in the third quarter to further its lead to 34-23 at the start of the fourth, and in the final eight minutes, each team scored 18 points to set the final score.

Winston led the Bears with 19 points Friday. Smith was the only other Bear to score in double figures with 11 points.