Friday, January 08, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Bears better in conference rout of Bruins

Leader sports editor

The Sylvan Hills Bears not only avenged a tournament loss exactly a week earlier, but also completely turned the tables on Pulaski Academy when it counted most on Tuesday. The Bears suffered a 57-39 loss to the Bruins in the Spa City Classic in Hot Springs over the holiday break, but in the 5A-Central Conference opener for both teams, Sylvan Hills dominated PA 70-48 in Sherwood.

“Sit as long as you like after a game like this,” Sylvan Hills coach Kevin Davis told reporters after the game. “This’ll be a whole lot nicer conversation than the ones we had last time.”

Davis didn’t find much to complain about after the game, but did say it could’ve been even easier than it was.

“We’re getting turnovers right and left in the first quarter, and if we could hit a layup, we put this one away real early,” Davis said. “The main thing, though, was the difference in the effort. I knew if we could keep that pressure up we’d start hitting a few.”

Sylvan Hills did force 12 turnovers in the first quarter, but only scored six points off those turnovers and only led 9-6 at the end of the frame.

The pressure greatly frustrated the Bruins. Late in the first, PA’s Tulsa University signee Lawson Korita picked up two quick fouls, one for trying to defend a Jordan Washington putback, and another for shoving Jacobé Davis near midcourt while Washington was shooting free throws.

“That was just pure frustration from Lawson there,” Kevin Davis said. “We’ve been playing him for four years now and he’s never shown that kind of thing before. Nothing but respect for that young man. We put in a special game plan for him tonight because he’s worthy of it. He put up 28 on us just a week ago, but I think Cobe got to him tonight and he got frustrated. It just happens sometimes.”

Jacobé Davis’ job was to stick with Korita wherever he went. It wasn’t a job Kevin Davis assigned to him, but one he asked for.

“When I told them what the plan was, he stepped up and asked for that position,” Kevin Davis said of his sophomore transfer from Mills.

The Bruin turnovers continued in the second quarter and the Bears got better at converting them into points, that is until the final minute. The Bears led 30-18 with a minute remaining and got two layups and a trip to the free-throw line to extend the lead, but failed to do so.

After forcing another turnover, Bears’ point guard Cordy Winston rushed a contested shot with nine seconds remaining and missed. Korita got the rebound and found teammate Trey Johnson with an outlet pass for a layup at the buzzer that cut the margin to 10.

But Sylvan Hills (9-4, 1-0) took charge in the third. The Bears pushed the lead to 41-24 by the two-minute mark, and with a minute remaining in the period, Korita picked up his fourth foul. He only sat the rest of the third and finished the game without fouling out, but was tired from spending so much energy trying to lose Jacobé Davis.

That was obvious when he got his first wide-open look at a 3-point shot with 3:25 left in the game and air-balled it short of the rim and out of bounds.

Another major improvement by Sylvan Hills from its first game against PA to Tuesday was seen at the free-throw line. The Bears shot 51 percent from the line in their three games at the Spa City Classic, and was worse than that in the first half on Tuesday, hitting just 6 of 13 free-throw attempts. But in the second half, Sylvan Hills made 17 of 20.

Pulaski Academy (6-3, 0-1) went 10 for 18 from 3-point range against the Bears in Hot Springs, but only 4 for 18 on Tuesday.

Despite wearing Jacobé Davis the whole game, Korita still led the Bruins in scoring and rebounding with 15 points and seven boards. Rico Lindsey came off the bench to add 10 for PA.

Winston led all scorers with 20 points. He also had four assists. Washington turned in a double-double with 18 points and 14 rebounds. Jacobé Davis scored 13 and Sam Williams added 10 for the Bears, including 8 for 9 at the free throw line when PA had to foul to try and extend the game.