Thursday, December 31, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Badgers hang tough in tournament play

Leader sports editor

After dominating Greene County Tech in their opening game of the Badger Christmas Classic, the Beebe boys dropped their last two on Tuesday and Wednesday. Beebe hosted Maumelle in the second round. The Hornets have invoked the mercy rule on opponents several times this season, but the 2-6 Badgers gave them a tough battle before succumbing to Maumelle’s depth late and losing 69-59.

On Wednesday, Blytheville, who had beat Harding Academy 76-67 Monday and lost 64-49 to Marion on Tuesday, jumped out to a 7-0 lead on the Badgers and never trailed, winning 58-47.

In Tuesday’s game, Beebe out-hustled and out-executed the heavily favored Hornets in the first half, and held a 33-29 lead at halftime. But Maumelle’s Division I prospect point guard Shawn Williams changed that in the second half. Beebe missed its first six shots of the third quarter, and Williams hit four 3-pointers. Beebe went from up four to down eight in three minutes. The rest of the game was played evenly, but the Badgers couldn’t make up the ground lost in the first few minutes of the second half.

Despite alternating bet-ween a 2-3 and a 2-1-2 zone and forcing a slow pace, Blytheville jumped out to a 7-0 lead three minutes into the game, but Beebe tightened up its defense and pulled within 11-9 by the end of the first quarter.

The second period went much the same as the first. The Chickasaws scored most of the points in early part of the quarter, taking a 20-11 lead halfway through the period. Austin Moore then got hot from outside. He hit a 3-pointer from the right corner.

After a Blytheville turnover, he hit another 3-pointer to pull the Badgers to within 20-17. With two minutes left in the quarter, Grant Jackson hit a free throw that made it 22-20, but scoring almost ceased from that point. Blytheville got a bucket with 30 seconds remaining and that’s how the game went into halftime.

The Chickasaws and Badgers came out of the locker room playing man defense, and the offense opened up a bit for both teams.

Blytheville’s ball movement created several open shots at point-blank range, while Beebe post players Jackson and Brad Worthington created a few open shots with good footwork after taking entry passes from outside.

Almost the entire quarter was played with Blytheville’s lead alternating between six and four points.

Beebe got within four several times and had a couple of possessions to get closer with no success. Blytheville guard Robert Moss came off the bench and hit a 3-pointer that gave the Chickasaws their biggest lead since the run that started the game. Beebe cut the margin to five twice after that, but still went into the fourth quarter trailing 41-34.

Moore converted a 3-point play to start the fourth to pull the Badgers back to within four, but that’s as close as the host team got the rest of the way. The Chickasaws went back to their zone defenses and Beebe couldn’t hit from outside.

Moore led the Badgers with 16 points while Worthington added 10. Tony Newmy and Mahlik Lewis each scored 12 for the Chickasaws (6-4).

Maumelle moved on to win the tournament and improve to 10-1 this season, beating Marion 65-58 in Wednesday night’s championship game.

In other final round games on Wednesday, Greene County Tech beat Brookland 61-52 in double overtime for seventh place, and Harding Academy defeated city rival Riverview 63-50 in the fifth-place game.