Tuesday, March 10, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Bears fall in first round play

Leader sports editor

PARAGOULD – The Sylvan Hills Lady Bears made a first-round exit from the Class 5A state tournament Sunday, but gave East two seed Batesville all it wanted before succumbing 61-54 at Greene County Tech High School.

Save for a blitz of Batesville 3-pointers early in the first quarter, the game was played evenly throughout. Sylvan Hills jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead on a basket by Sarah Beckwith and a steal and layup by Dabria Thompson. But the Lady Pioneers heated up from outside and went on a 17-3 run to take a 10-point lead. After Sylvan Hills cut it to 17-10, Batesville’s Sarah Hayes connected on a fourth, first-quarter trey to make it 20-10 going into the second quarter.

The rest of the game was tooth and nail, with Batesville leading by as many as 18 and Sylvan Hills pulling to within four with about a minute remaining.

The Lady Pioneers led 38-23 at halftime and drained another three to open up the second half. From there, Sylvan Hills began its climb back into the game.

The Lady Bears forced several turnovers and did a better job of guarding the perimeter in the second half, but Batesville dominated the boards and seemed to end up with every loose ball.

“That’s really what it came down to,” said Sylvan Hills coach Shelley Davis. “I really think we just got outworked in the first half and I told them that at halftime. We would just stop and watch, thinking it was going out, and here they would come from behind us and get it. There’s just no excuse for that, and I think that was the key difference in the game. They got every loose ball and they rebounded harder than we did. We didn’t start really playing hard until the last three minutes.”

Sylvan Hills pulled to within 11 in the third before Batesville’s Hannah Qualls scored the last bucket of the quarter, making it 49-36 going into the final frame. Sylvan Hills guards Jessica Brasfield and Thompson took over in the fourth, but poorly-timed turnovers thwarted the Lady Bears’ comeback.

Brasfield got back-to-back steals and layups to pull her team to within 57-51 with 1:10 remaining. Sylvan Hills’ pressure then forced a quick Batesville shot and Jahnay Duncan came down with the rebound for Sylvan Hills. She passed to Thompson, who went the distance for the bucket and the foul. She missed the free throw with 51 seconds left, but Sylvan Hills got another defensive stop when Batesville threw the ball out of bounds. It was the first of two possessions that gave the Lady Bears a chance to pull within one possession, but they turned the ball over both times. Thompson threw it away on a penetrate-and-dish attempt and Beckwith was stripped from behind pulling up for a midrange jumper.

Qualls led all scorers with 27 points for Batesville while Haley Cole added 11. Batesville (21-9) went 6 for 11 from 3-point range, but was 5 of 7 in the first half.

Thompson, a junior, finished with 15 points to lead Sylvan Hills (15-12). Brasfield, a senior, scored all 11 of her points in the second half, including eight in the fourth quarter.

Beckwith, also a senior, scored 10 in her last game for the Lady Bears.