Friday, January 16, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Bears upset Devils

Leader sports editor

The Sylvan Hills Lady Bears pulled off an upset victory on Tuesday, knocking off favored Jacksonville 48-37 in a 5A-Central matchup in Sherwood. The most incredible thing about the Sylvan Hills victory is not that it was an upset, but that the Lady Bears won despite making just seven shots the entire game.

Shooting percentage from the floor by both teams was atrocious. Free-throw shooting, however, was the difference, both in quantity and quality.

The Lady Bears shot more than double the number of foul shots as Jacksonville, and shot more than double Jacksonville’s percentage.

Sylvan Hills hit 32 of 47 free-throw attempts for 68 percent. Jacksonville only shot 23 free throws, and made only 7 for 30 percent. Five players fouled out of the game, two from Sylvan Hills and three from Jacksonville.

Jacksonville coach William Rountree focused on the total numbers, but didn’t blame referees entirely.

“You’d certainly like the foul count to be more even than it was, and I definitely thought it could’ve been,” said Rountree. “But they did a better job of driving to the basket and drawing those fouls than we did. I don’t know if they did twice as good as us, but that’s the way it went. It is what it is. They still have to come to our place, so we get another shot at them.”

The game was all about turnovers. Jacksonville committed an unusual amount of turnovers. The Lady Devils are used to forcing a lot of turnovers with their pressure, but the 20 they committed on Tuesday isn’t something they’re used to. Four of those turnovers came in the first three minutes of the game, and they helped Sylvan Hills jump out to an 8-3 lead. Neither team scored for several minutes from that point. The Lady Bears finally made it 11-3 on three free throws by senior Sarah Beckwith.

Sylvan Hills increased its lead to 10 on free throws by Dabria Thompson before Jacksonville’s Tatiana Lacy scored to make it an eight-point game.

Sylvan Hills made just one field goal in the first quarter, a 10-foot jumper by Jahnay Duncan, while Lacy made two baskets and Jerrica Hardaway added a free throw for Jacksonville’s points.

Both teams continued to struggle from the floor in the second period. Beckwith made two baskets while Thompson and Maddison Shelton each added a pair of free throws for Sylvan Hills in the second period.

Jacksonville’s Antrice McCoy drained a 3-pointer and added a free throw while Hardaway got an and-1 to make it 21-12 at halftime.

The third quarter belonged to the visiting team, at least the first half of it did. McCoy and Taylor Toombs each drained 3-pointers to pull within 24-22 with 4:03 remaining in the third.

Shortly thereafter, Beckwith picked up her fourth foul and Hardaway made 1 of 2 free throws to pull within 24-23. With 1:33 left in the third, McCoy drew Sylvan Hills post player Alana Canady’s fourth foul and made both free throws, giving Jacksonville its first and only lead of the game at 25-24.

A bucket by Makayla Smith gave Sylvan Hills the lead going into the fourth quarter, but Lady Bear coach Shelley Davis was worried.

“When they made that run in the third I thought, oh no, here they go,” said Davis. “They’ve been a team that could really get on a roll and just bury teams. So I was really, really proud of my girls for how they kept their composure, because honestly, we have not handled that well this year. This is the first time all season a team has put a run on us like that, and we responded. In the past, we’ve caved in. So maybe this is like a turning point for us.”

With the fouls for both teams piling up, the fourth quarter became a drawn out free-throw shooting contest, and Jacksonville’s shooting was abysmal. Sylvan Hills stretched out a small lead with better foul shooting, and sealed the game when Jacksonville was forced to foul.

Sylvan Hills made 16 of 22 foul shots in the fourth quarter while Jacksonville made just 1 of 9. Alexis James hit a 3-pointer and McCoy sank 4 of 6 shots from the field, but it wasn’t enough.

Thompson led all scorers with 23 points, including 21 from the foul line, and made it an impressive double-double with 14 rebounds. Beckwith added 11 for Sylvan Hills.

McCoy led Jacksonville (7-7, 2-1) with 20 points and was the only Lady Devil in double figures scoring. Hardaway scored five points for JHS, and added a game-high 19 rebounds.

“She had 19 rebounds and I’m proud of her hustle, but she didn’t score enough,” Rountree said of Hardaway. “She missed a lot of shots. We’ve got to find someone to score besides Antrice.”

Jacksonville hit just 22 percent from the floor on 13 of 58 shooting. Sylvan Hills was even worse, making just 7 of 52 shot attempts for 13.5 percent shooting for the game.