Friday, January 15, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Bears turn over NPHS for victory

Leader sportswriter

Consistency has been a big factor in Sylvan Hills’ success this season, and the Bears continued their consistent, solid play in Tuesday’s 5A-Central Conference game at home against North Pulaski, beating the Falcons comfortably by the final score of 54-34.

The Bears (10-5, 2-1) led by double digits at the end of the first quarter, 18-6, and pushed their lead to 16 by halftime, leading 33-17. Sylvan Hills made some big shots throughout the first half, but didn’t exactly light it up from the floor, making 12 of 30 shots (40 percent), including 4 for 14 from 3-point range.

The most noteworthy statistical difference, though, was the Bears had just one turnover the entire first half and North Pulaski (7-8, 0-3) had 11.

“That really wasn’t our point of emphasis going in,” said Sylvan Hills coach Kevin Davis. “I did talk to them about that this week in practice, just from the standpoint of there’s nothing anybody can help you on when we’re having unforced turnovers.

“We didn’t talk about it because we’ve been having a problem with it. We just talked about it in practice – when things are going and kids are turning the ball over, that needs to be brought out.

“That really handcuffs us when people are turning the ball over. So, treat it with respect and we’ve really got to take care of the basketball. Hopefully, it was some of that just from what we do (in practice) coming out in our game performance.”

The Bears did a good job of taking care of the basketball in the second half as well, committing just four turnovers, with only one coming in the third quarter. At the end of the third quarter, Sylvan Hills led 46-25.

Four different Falcons scored in the third quarter, and for the Bears, Cordy Winston and sophomore Zion Butler accounted for all of Sylvan Hills’ points in that time.

Winston had eight points in the third quarter, including Sylvan Hills’ first six of the period. Butler’s first basket of the quarter gave the Bears a 41-23 lead, and he added two free throws with 3:42 left in the period that put the hosts up by 20, leading 43-23.

Butler made another free throw shortly after to further the lead to 21, and that was the margin at the start of the fourth, with Winston sinking a 2-pointer for the Bears’ final points of the third quarter.

Everyone that dressed out for Sylvan Hills played Tuesday and the Bears rotated in several different combinations of players without much drop off in production. As a result of that, the closest the Falcons got to the Bears’ lead in the fourth quarter was 15 points.

North Pulaski senior guard Jermaine Lopez drained a corner three that made the score 47-32 with 4:17 to play. Sylvan Hills’ lead grew to 51-34 in the waning moments of the fourth quarter, and with 20 seconds to play, J.D. Smith sank a corner three to set the final score.

The Bears made 19 of 52 shots from the floor Tuesday for 37 percent. The Falcons made 14 of 40 shots for 35 percent. From 3-point range, SHHS was 6 for 24 and NPHS was 2 for 11. From the free-throw line, the Bears were 10 for 16 and the Falcons were 4 for 8, and all four made free throws were in the fourth quarter.

North Pulaski outrebounded Sylvan Hills 32-25, but the Bears won the turnover category 5-19.

Winston and Lopez led all scorers with 11 points apiece. Sylvan Hills’ Jordan Washington was the only other player for either team to score in double figures. He had 10 points and was a rebound shy of a double-double.

JaCobe Davis added nine points for the Bears, and teammates Butler and Alex Curry each scored seven points. Christian White scored eight points for NPHS and added a game-high 10 rebounds.