Wednesday, February 18, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Sylvan Hills continues its improvement

Leader sports editor

Not much was riding on the outcome, but when Sylvan Hills takes on nearby rival North Pulaski, pride is always at stake. Neither team can make the playoffs, but the Bears wanted to avenge a 10-point loss at NP from earlier this season. They accomplished that mission, winning 52-37 in Sherwood.

Though Sylvan Hills didn’t win last Tuesday at Jacksonville, it has experienced huge point swings from the first round robin in the 5A-Central to the second. After losing by 38 to Jacksonville earlier in the season at home, the Bears lost by six at Jacksonville last Tuesday. Then on Friday, they turned a 10-point loss into a 15-point win.

“I think you can see from the outcome of these recent games that we’re playing a little bit better,” said Sylvan Hills coach Kevin Davis. “A lot of that has to do with kids stepping up that weren’t getting a lot of playing time early in the year.”

One of those players on Friday was freshman post player Alex Curry, who joined the team after the freshmen Bears won the River City Conference tournament championship last Thursday. He provided a post presence the Bears have lacked all season, and scored 12 points on Friday.

Another is sophomore point guard Herman Washington, who scored 12 against Jacksonville and ran the point effectively on Friday.

“He does such a good job of delivering the ball where people can score easily,” Davis said. 
“He’s one of those guys who may not have all the natural ability of some others, but he works his tail off. He doesn’t miss a practice and he’s all business when he’s in practice.”

The starting lineup of Herman Washington, Jordan Washington, Curry, Dexter Smith and Jaylin Johnson held North Pulaski scoreless for almost all the first quarter. They left the game with 90 seconds remaining holding an 11-0 lead. The Falcons scored four unanswered to end the period, and the game leveled out a bit from there.

Sylvan Hills won the second quarter 15-11 to take a 26-15 lead into the break. The two teams battled to the exact same score in the third quarter to make it 41-26, and tied 11-11 in the fourth.

The Falcons cut the margin to four midway through the third quarter, but Smith sank back-to-back 3-pointers in less than a minute to quickly push the margin back to double digits.

“They battled and scrapped pretty hard to get back in it,” Davis said of the Falcons. “I think when all that got erased by two quick shots, it kind of took some wind out of them. Dexter can do that. He hasn’t lost one of our little shoot-around competitions we have all year.”