Wednesday, December 16, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Bears win first place over host Cyclones

Leader sports editor

RUSSELLVILLE – The Sylvan Hills Bears bounced back from a terrible outing at Maumelle earlier last week to win the Cyclone Invitational at Russellville High School. The Bears overcame two late nights and a few players taking the ACT test early Saturday morning to come up with three good games in three days.

The Bears made the championship game of the tournament for the second year in a row. After losing to Lake Hamilton in last year’s final, Sylvan Hills handled the tournament host Cyclones 68-58 on Saturday.

Winning those games Thursday through Saturday was important for the Bears, who suffered a 33-point loss at Maumelle on Dec. 8. Sylvan Hills coach Kevin Davis wasn’t too concerned with the nature of that loss, and was glad to see his team move past it and have some success.

“Sometimes in the game of basketball, you’re going to have games turn out like that, and it really doesn’t indicate much about either team,” said Davis. “Sometimes everything just goes one team’s way. I’ve seen really good teams get beat like that. It usually happens early and you just have to move on. I was glad to see our guys continue to play with confidence and even start to play a little better than we had before.”

The Bears jumped out to a 17-5 lead in the first quarter and stretched that margin to 34-19 by halftime. Russellville still trailed 48-34 at the end of the third quarter, but the Bears were solid at the free-throw line and held off any serious threat.

“We hit 11 of 12 free throws in the fourth quarter and that was probably the statistic of the game,” Davis said. “We had consistent scoring, too, very balanced, and that was a big key.”

Senior point guard Cordy Winston scored in double figures in all three games and sophomore Jacobe Davis did so twice. But a different player moved into double figures in each of the three games. In Saturday’s win, it was sophomore post player Alex Curry, who finished with 10 points.

“We gave Curry the nod Saturday primarily due to his calmness,” Davis said. “We knew it was going to be an intense environment. It was their tournament in their brand new arena, but Alex doesn’t get rattled so we went with him and he performed well for us.”

Jacobe Davis led the team with 13 points in the championship game. Winston joined Curry with 10.

On Friday, Sylvan Hills beat Greenwood 69-57 and again utilized a fast start to take control of the game. The Bears led 16-5 by the end of the first quarter, and coach Davis noticed a trend.

“Greenwood and Russellville both had the same kind of turnovers in the first quarter,” Davis said. “Both teams threw the ball into the third or fourth row making skip passes over our zone. We played zone against them, but we run our zone a little different than most people. We try to matchup at the top out of it. I think when they went to make the throw, they noticed a defender there that they’re not used to seeing against a zone, and that altered things for them a little bit.”

Unlike Russellville, Green-wood was able to pull closer each quarter. By the end of the third, the Bulldogs only trailed 49-44. Kevin Davis credited Greenwood for their consistent play for the remainder of the game, but also credited his team with coming through when it had to.

“We made some plays where Greenwood just has to shake their heads and move on,” Davis said. “They were in perfect position and doing everything right. We were just able to get buckets. Cordy and Sam (Williams) were able to penetrate and make things happen, and Cobe knocked down some big shots.”

Winston scored 15 against the Bulldogs while Davis added 14 and Williams nine.

Sylvan Hills (6-2) opened the tournament with a 50-34 win over Subiaco Academy. Charles Smith scored 12 and Winston 10 in that win.

The Bears host Watson Chapel on Friday before a long layoff. Sylvan Hills is in no tournaments over the Christmas break. Its next game after Friday is the 5A-Central Conference opener against Pulaski Academy on Jan. 5.