Tuesday, January 27, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Beebe ladies knock Bears off top spot

Leader sportswriter

Beebe’s girls handed Sylvan Hills its first conference loss of the season in Friday’s 5A-Central matchup in Sherwood, as the Lady Badgers came from behind to beat the Lady Bears 48-38.

Sylvan Hills (9-8, 5-1) got off to a solid start, and led at the end of each quarter, except the one that mattered. Beebe (8-10, 4-2) grabbed its first lead since the beginning of the game at the 4:33 mark of the final quarter, and the Lady Badgers never let that lead go en route to the 10-point win.

“When we got the lead, we just kept pushing it up,” said Beebe coach Greg Richey. “We followed our game plan all the way through. That was big. They got off to a real good start shooting and we didn’t.”

The Lady Badgers beat the same Sylvan Hills team by one point in the Beebe Christmas Tournament in late December. It was a game where neither team shot well from the floor, but on Friday, Richey thought his team played a more complete game, especially in the second half.

“When we played them at home, neither one of us shot very well,” Richey said. “We just shot one point better. We were just lucky that night. Tonight, I feel like we played a complete second half.”

Beebe made the first shot of the game – a 3-pointer by Natalie Henley. Sarah Beckwith answered with a 3-pointer for Sylvan Hills, but the Lady Badgers took a 4-3 lead with a Taylor McGraw free throw.

However, the Lady Bears took a quick 8-4 lead on a Jessica Brasfield basket and Beckwith’s second three of the game. At the end of the first quarter, Sylvan Hills led 14-8.

The Lady Bears led by as much as 19-10 in the second quarter, but Beebe responded with a 6-0 run to cut the hosts’ lead to three, and at halftime, Sylvan Hills led 25-20.

With 50.7 seconds left in the third quarter, Beebe tied the game at 28 on a pair of free throws by Hannah McGhee, but with 39 seconds left in the period, Beckwith sank a corner three to push the Lady Bears’ lead to 31-28.

McGhee set the third-quarter margin at 31-30 with an inside bucket on the ensuing possession. The Lady Badgers took their first lead of the second half with 4:33 remaining in the game.

The go-ahead bucket was a 3-pointer by Henley, and the Lady Badgers never lost the lead from there. As the game came to a close, Sylvan Hills was forced to foul, and McGraw made seven-straight free throws to give Beebe the double-digit win.

“We didn’t give up when we got down nine,” Richey said. “We kept battling back and it took us forever to get the lead, but I’m really proud of those girls. We’re 3-0 on the road in this conference and that’s not an easy thing to do, especially against a team that’s tied for No. 1 in the conference.”

Beebe finished the game 15 of 47 from the floor for 32 percent. Sylvan Hills made 13 of 53 shot attempts for 25 percent. From the free-throw line, the Lady Badgers made 14 of 19 attempts for 74 percent, while the Lady Bears made 7 of 12 shots for 58 percent.

The Lady Badgers also won the rebounding and turnover categories. Beebe outrebounded Sylvan Hills 32-26, and committed 10 turnovers to the Lady Bears’ total of 15.

Each team had two players score in double figures. Beckwith led all scorers with 16 points, and Brasfield scored 10 points. McGraw led Beebe with 14 points, and Kiersten Miller scored 10 points.

Ashlyn Johnson scored five points for Beebe, and had a game-high 15 rebounds.

Both teams continued conference play last night after deadlines, and they’ll each play another 5A-Central game Friday. Beebe will host McClellan on Friday, and Sylvan Hills will play at Mills University Studies. Both games start at 6 p.m.