Saturday, February 27, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Hillside ladies topple Devils

Leader sports editor

A strong, dominant second quarter broke up a close game and led to a decisive 64-44 Lady Bear victory over Jacksonville on Tuesday in the regular-season finale for both teams. The SHHS senior night game had no bearing on the league standings or placement in the state playoffs that begin next week. Sylvan Hills was locked into the three seed from the 5A-Central Conference while Jacksonville will advance to state as the four seed, but it did mark the second-straight year for the Lady Bears to sweep the Lady Red Devils.

The second quarter was the big difference on Tuesday. Sylvan Hills controlled most of the action in the first quarter, but Jacksonville stayed close with sharp outside shooting.

Jacksonville’s Desiree Williams hit three long-range 3-pointers, but the Lady Devils had no answer for Sylvan Hills’ inside game. Post players Alana Canady and Reigen Thomas combined for 14 points in the opening period and led the Lady Bears to a 17-13 lead going into the second.

That’s when the Lady Bears began adding an outside touch to its strong inside game. Sophomore Jayla Bell in a pair of 3-pointers for the home team in the first minute of the second quarter. That gave the Lady Bears a 23-13 lead. Canady, also a sophomore, continued to be a force inside. She scored six points in the second quarter, all after offensive rebounds. Jacksonville did not score again until the midway point of the second quarter when a 2-pointer by Williams made it 27-15.

Sylvan Hills freshman Andrew Dolphin came off the bench and hit a 3-pointer to put the Lady Bears up 15.

Sylvan Hills final points came on yet another offensive rebound, this time Bell put back a Da’Bria Thompson miss right before the buzzer to send the Lady Bears into the locker room with a 38-19 lead.

The two teams battled evenly to 51-32 in the third quarter as Thompson began to heat up from outside. She hit a pair of 3-pointers in the third quarter, giving Sylvan Hills its biggest lead of the game at 44-19.

Jacksonville (12-14, 8-6) battled back with good halfcourt offense, scoring all five of its third-quarter baskets from inside the paint with good ball movement.

But Thompson stayed hot from outside. She hit two more 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and Dolphin added another to stymie the Lady Devils’ comeback attempts.

Canady led Sylvan Hills with 20 points, and added five rebounds, four steals and three blocked shots. Thompson finished with 18, including five 3-pointers. Bell had 10 and Dolphin eight for the Lady Bears. Sylvan Hills made 15 of 18 free-throw attempts.

Williams led all scorers with 21 points, including 4 of 7 from 3-point range. Asiah Williams added 12 points and five rebounds for Jacksonville.

The Lady Red Devils will open the Class 5A state tournament at 1 p.m. Tuesday at the Hot Springs Convention Center. Sylvan Hills (17-7, 11-3) will play the final first-round game at 4 p.m. on Thursday.