Friday, January 29, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Badgers earn first conference win

Leader sportswriter

The Beebe boys picked up their first 5A-Central Conference victory of the season Tuesday night at Badger Arena with a 60-39 win over North Pulaski.

Beebe (3-12, 1-6) set the tone early in the first quarter. The Badgers led 6-0 on a pair of 3-pointers by Austin Moore and Bryson Bell. North Pulaski (2-11, 0-6) scored three of the next five points, but Moore hit another three to give the Badgers an 11-3 lead with 2:34 left in the opening quarter.

After Moore’s three, the hosts ended the quarter with a 7-0 run to lead 18-3 at the start of the second quarter, and the Badgers’ scoring run continued from there. Grant Jackson and Moore each made a free throw to extend the lead to 20-3 before Moore hit his fourth three of the game 52 seconds into the quarter, which gave Beebe a commanding 23-3 lead.

North Pulaski’s scoring drought ended on the ensuing possession with a Braxton McKinney three, but Beebe eventually built its lead back to 20, and led by 24 at the half with the score 34-10.

Beebe coach Ryan Marshall was pleased with the 34 points his team posted in the first half, but was especially proud of the defensive and rebounding efforts.

“I thought we did do a good job with our defensive effort,” said Marshall. “Our rebounding effort was really good in the first half. I thought Jackson came in and set the tempo with that, but I’m very proud of the way they defended and rebounded in the first half.”

Jackson nearly outrebounded the Falcons by himself in the first half. He grabbed seven of his game-high 13 rebounds in the first two quarters of play, while NP totaled nine first-half boards. Jackson added 12 points, giving him a double-double.

“That was by far his best game, all around, of the year,” Marshall said of Jackson, “but a lot of that was just his mindset to do some little things that we challenged him to do, and I thought he did a real good job of that.”

Moore hit his fifth three of the game 32 seconds into the second half to extend the Badgers’ lead to 37-10, which ended up being Beebe’s largest lead of the second half. Though the 27-point margin was Beebe’s largest lead, the Falcons barely got within 20 points of Beebe’s lead the rest of the way.

With 1:57 to play in the third quarter, NP made it a 42-21 game on a pair of McKinney free throws, but Beebe closed the quarter with four unanswered points to lead 46-21 at the start of the fourth.

At the 4:42 mark of the fourth quarter, senior guard Jermaine Lopez drove in a contested layup to make the score 50-30. The Beebe lead was down to 18 shortly after, but Moore made a pair of free throws with four minutes to play that pushed it back to 20, with the score 54-34.

Moore made two more free throws a minute later to extend the lead to 56-34, and the Falcons closed the game with a 5-4 run to set the final point totals.

Beebe finished the game 16 for 36 from the floor for 44 percent, while the Falcons made 15 of 49 shots for 31 percent. From 3-point range, the Badgers made 6 of 15 attempts and NP made 2 of 11 from downtown. From the free-throw line, Beebe was 22 for 33 and North Pulaski was 7 for 17.

The Badgers outrebounded the Falcons 35-17, but North Pulaski had fewer turnovers, committing 16 to Beebe’s 22.

Jackson was one of two Badgers that scored in double figures Tuesday. Moore led all scorers with 24 points. McKinney was the only Falcon that scored in double figures, finishing with 12.

Beebe traveled to J.A. Fair on Wednesday for a make-up 5A-Central game that was originally scheduled for Jan. 22. The War Eagles got away with a 52-37 win, but not before getting a scare from the Badgers. Beebe led at the end of the first quarter, and held Fair leading scorer Jerrick Cole scoreless the entire first half.

Beebe led 7-4 at the end of the first quarter, and still held a 13-12 lead midway through the second when the home team began to find its range.

The War Eagles outscored Beebe 10-1 over the final three minutes of the half, and took a 22-14 lead into the locker room.

Cole began to find openings in the second half, and combined with a solid effort by post player Kris Bankston, Fair was able to take control.

Bankston finished with a game-high 19 points and nine rebounds while Cole added 13 for the War Eagles. Bell led the Badgers with 15 points on 5 for 9 3-point shooting.