Tuesday, February 16, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Devils’ Den gets heated in Beebe win

Leader sportswriter

The Beebe girls kept their perfect 5A-Central Conference record intact Friday night in Jacksonville with a 49-32 win over the Lady Red Devils, completing the season sweep over JHS.

Jacksonville (12-13, 6-5) swept Beebe (20-4, 11-0) last season, the Lady Badgers’ first in the 5A-Central. Beebe beat Jacksonville 52-35 last month at Badger Arena, and the Lady Badgers got off to a good start in that January meeting.

Friday’s game, which was Jacksonville’s homecoming night, took more than a quarter for Beebe to get much separation on the scoreboard, as the Lady Badgers held just a 13-11 lead at the end of the first quarter.

“I told them that’s their homecoming, they’re going to come out hard,” said Beebe coach Greg Richey. “They’re going to play their best in the first quarter, let’s just try to come out and play our game, just try to hold serve, so to speak, and just let the adrenaline rush go down.

“Then in the second quarter, I said I think if we’ll execute we can start pulling away, and it kind of played out that way. I thought we played pretty well in the second quarter and were able to distance ourselves.”

Beebe played Friday’s game without starting forward Katie Turner, who was out with the stomach flu.

“We were missing one of our key starters for the game,” Richey said. “She had the stomach flu and anytime you don’t have your normal starting five it throws you out of sync a little bit.

“That’s not an excuse because we’ve got a good bench and we’ve got some good players that can come in and play, but any team would probably say it disrupts you a little bit when one of your players isn’t there.”

Beebe found some separation on the scoreboard in the second quarter, and did so with defensive pressure that led to several Jacksonville turnovers. The Lady Red Devils went cold from the floor in the second quarter, making just one field goal in that eight-minute span, and that basket didn’t come until there were just four seconds left until halftime.

That basket was scored by guard Desiree Williams. It was also the last points of the half, which made the score 29-16 Beebe at halftime. Beebe senior point guard Taylor McGraw sank her fourth 3-pointer of the game 27 seconds into the second half and junior forward Hannah McGhee, who got the start for Turner, put in a transition layup on the next Beebe possession that upped the BHS lead to 34-16.

Jacksonville coach Crystal Scott called timeout after McGhee’s layup, and the Lady Red Devils answered with an Alexis James 3-pointer near the top of the key, which made the score 34-19 Beebe with 5:40 left in the third. The Lady Badgers’ lead stayed at 15 at the end of the quarter, with the score 40-25.

Beebe pushed its lead to 17, 44-27, on a putback by senior center Gracie Anders with 5:15 remaining in the fourth quarter. Twenty-five seconds later, a fight broke out between Williams and Beebe starter Kassidy Elam.

The two seniors were battling for position on an inbound pass when things escalated. Williams threw the first punch and Elam went after her in retaliation, but was restrained before she could get ahold of her. As a result, both players were ejected and by AAA rule had to sit out last night’s conference games.

“Unfortunately for Kassidy and that other girl they’re going to have to sit out the next game,” Richey said. “That’s the triple-A rules and you have to go by them. It’s like I told the official, she (Elam) got hit and she never got to hit back, but she’s going to have to serve the same penalty and that’s the rules.

“That’s the triple-A rules and the officials don’t have a choice in the matter and we don’t have a choice in the matter. It’s just like I tell the girls, things can happen and you can’t retaliate no matter how bad you want to. But that’s easier said than done when you get punched in the mouth.

“Your natural reaction always is you’re going to fight back. I don’t want my girls to get pushed around and shoved around, and Kassidy wasn’t going to let that happen. She’s not going to get pushed around by somebody. She’s going to stand up for herself and she did.”

Scott said Williams was reacting to a forearm shove from Elam, but didn’t condone her player’s reaction.

“My player threw the first closed-fist punch - that’s true,” said Scott. “She reacted poorly. I tell them all the time, ‘I’m going to defend you, but I need you to be right.’ She took a forearm, but she wasn’t right in how she handled the situation.”

Scott also believes the officials share some of the responsibility for tempers escalating by not gaining control of an increasingly intense atmosphere on the floor.

“Coach (Tirrell) Brown and I were both telling the referees they needed to start calling more fouls to get this under control. You could tell it was getting intense. There were some hard fouls on both ends and no fouls being called. A couple possessions before the altercation they took Desiree to the ground on a layup, and no call. Girls were getting frustrated on both sides. You could see it escalating.”

Given the situation, Richey thought his players and staff as well as the JHS coaching staff did the best they could to keep the rest of the game under control.

“We have discussed all that,” Richey said. “So my players knew not to leave the bench. They know what the rules are. If the players leave the bench then they’re ejected also. My players didn’t do that. They stayed on the bench and Jacksonville’s players stayed on the bench.

“I thought their coach (Scott) did a good job of keeping her players under control after that happened. Other than the one that got out of control and punched her, which you can’t do anything about that because you’re not out there on the floor to stop her, but she did a good job of keeping her players under control and finishing the game with no other incidents happening the rest of the way, and that’s a testament to her for keeping her players under control, too.”

Each team scored five points the rest of the game, setting the final score. Beebe finished the game 18 of 40 from the floor for 45 percent. Jacksonville was 10 of 34 from the floor for 29 percent. From 3-point range, the Lady Badgers were 5 for 14 and the Lady Red Devils were 2 for 4.

From the free-throw line, Beebe was 8 for 10 and JHS was 10 for 23. Beebe dominated the boards, outrebounding JHS 30-14, but the Lady Red Devils had one fewer turnover, finishing with 21 to Beebe’s 22.

McGraw led all scorers with 17 points. Anders added 13 points, nine rebounds, two steals and two blocks. Libbie Hill scored eight points and had seven rebounds and four assists. McGhee and Hannah Camp scored four points each for Beebe and Kierston Miller had three points and six rebounds.

James and Asiah Williams led Jacksonville with eight points apiece, and senior center Tatianna Lacy added seven points. The next highest scorer for JHS was Josie Starr, who scored three points.