Friday, January 30, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Late pressure lifts Falcons over Badgers

Leader sportswriter

Beebe hung with North Pulaski for the first three quarters of Tuesday’s 5A-Central Conference game at NPHS, but the more talented Falcons wore down the Badgers in the fourth quarter, and used their defense to pull away for a convincing 73-53 win.

The Falcons led by three at halftime, and only managed to further their lead to 43-37 by the end of the third quarter. But in the fourth quarter, North Pulaski came out pressing, and forced a number of Beebe turnovers that led to easy points in transition for the hosts.

“I think Beebe came out on a mission,” said North Pulaski coach Roy Jackson. “Their head coach wasn’t here, but I told our guys that their guys were going to play hard and they were going to compete.

“I’ve been in their shoes before. When you’re the underdogs, you’re going to come in and try and fight and scrap, and that’s what they did. I think we did a good job of just keeping the constant pressure on them, and we just wore them down in the fourth quarter and were able to get some transition buckets.”

Beebe coach Ryan Marshall wasn’t at Tuesday’s game because he was serving a one-game suspension for being ejected at the end of the Badgers’ previous game at Sylvan Hills.

Even without Marshall on the bench, the Badgers (2-17, 0-7) competed, like Jackson thought they would. The favored Falcons (4-12, 2-5) only led by three at the end of the first two quarters. They led 11-8 after one, and 25-22 at halftime.

Beebe point guard Austin Moore started his stellar second half with a game-tying 3-pointer 15 seconds into the third quarter, which made the score 25 all.

North Pulaski’s Jakarie Crutcher answered on the Falcons’ ensuing possession to give the hosts the lead again, but Beebe tied the game again at 29 with a pair of free throws by Moore.

The Falcons, though, like before, regained the lead on the following possession with a lane-penetrating layup by De’Marik Brown.

North Pulaski later pushed its lead to eight toward the end of the quarter. With nine seconds remaining in the third, Breon Baker converted a four-point play after being fouled on a made 3-pointer, and then calmly sinking the free throw that followed.

Baker’s four-point play pushed the NP lead to 43-35. Beebe cut the Falcon lead to six with 6.6 seconds remaining in the quarter on a pair of 1-and-1 free throws by Moore. That set the third-quarter margin at 43-37. The Falcons came out in the fourth quarter pressing, and by the 6:30 mark, they gained a double-digit lead on a Brown steal and dish up court to teammate Isaiah Brown, who scored on the transition layup, which made the score 49-39.

With 4:23 to play, the Badgers got their deficit back down to single digits on a driving bucket off the glass by Moore, making the score 52-43, but the Falcons quickly got it back to double digits, and only furthered their lead from there.

With 3:04 remaining, the Falcons pushed it to 15, 60-45, on a steal and and-1 by Crutcher, and led by as much as 21 until Beebe’s Bryson Bell made 1 of 2 free throws with one second remaining, setting the final score.

North Pulaski finished the game 27 of 54 from the floor for 50 percent. Beebe made 14 of 35 shots from the field for 40 percent. Both teams made 17 free throws. The Falcons made 17 of 21 attempts from the stripe for 81 percent, and the Badgers made 17 of 19 attempts for 89 percent.

The Falcons won the rebounding and turnover categories. North Pulaski outrebounded Beebe 31-17, and committed 15 turnovers to Beebe’s total of 25.

Four different Falcons scored in double figures Tuesday. Crutcher led the way with 16 points. Brown had 15 points and a game-high six steals. Myles Bush scored 13 points for NP, and Baker scored 11.

Moore led all scorers with 25 points, including a 14 for 14 showing at the free-throw line. Grant Brown was the second-leading scorer for Beebe. He had nine points.