Friday, February 05, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Lions can’t keep pace with Bears

Leader sports editor

The Sylvan Hills Bears ran themselves to a critical 60-48 victory over McClellan on Tuesday in Sherwood. Sylvan Hills senior point guard Cordy Winston repeatedly beat the Lion defense down the court for easy transition layups, and finished with a season-high 30 points.

Sylvan Hills (12-7, 4-4) post player Jordan Washington, who is also the football team’s starting quarterback, looked like a quarterback much of the time Tuesday as he compiled his first triple-double. Washington finished with 13 points, 19 rebounds and 10 assists, many of the assists coming from court-length passes to Winston after defensive rebounds.

“It was something to see,” said Sylvan Hills coach Kevin Davis. “There was one play where he got a rebound, took one dribble, threw a football-style pass right down the middle of the court through about three McClellan guys. And he hit Cordy in stride to where he didn’t have to dribble, just one step and score.”

The Bears were up by 20 points midway through the third quarter and in control of the game when McClellan (10-11, 4-4) made a run to pull within 10. Davis had subbed and put his starters back in to finish.

“McClellan is going to press and trap anyway,” Davis said. “They got down and they really came after us and made the game kind of crazy. I had some subs in there and they turned us over a few times. So I put the starters back in to hold the fort for us.”

Sylvan Hills only made 10 of 17 free-throw attempts, but hit six of its last seven to seal the win.

“We didn’t shoot as well as you want, but we hit them when we had to,” Davis said. “Overall I was pleased. That’s our style. That’s what we do and we did it well this time. Sometimes you just do things better than other times.”

The Bears and Lions are tied for fifth place, trailing fourth-place Jacksonville by one game while Pulaski Academy, J.A. Fair and Mills are tied for first place with 6-2 league records, just two games ahead of Sylvan Hills and McClellan.

“It was one we had to have,” Davis said. “We let one get away on the road (at Jacksonville, 62-60) that we thought we had a chance to go in and steal, so it was important to hold serve at home.”

In the girls’ game, the Lady Bears (11-7, 5-3) were never seriously threatened, but could not completely put away the Lady Lions (4-12, 2-6) until the fourth quarter of their 68-36 victory.

“They’re just athletic and they make things happen with that athleticism,” said Sylvan Hills girls’ coach Shelley Davis. “But I thought we played pretty well. Da’Bria Thompson had one of her best games even though she didn’t score much. She’s our leading scorer, but she hasn’t shot it well at all the last few games. In this one, she just started creating openings for her teammates and delivering the ball to them. She made us go.”

The biggest recipient of Thompson’s penetrate-and-dish was senior forward Raigen Thomas, who dropped in a season-high 18 points.

“She finally did it,” Davis said of Thomas. “You see her potential and you just want to do something to make her mad enough to play aggressively. She’s so passive most of the time and she’d be a tremendous player if she’d just go for it. She’s so strong and athletic she’s hard to deal with. She just had to make up her mind to do it. Hopefully this is a turning point for her.”

Sylvan Hills led 33-22 at halftime, but dominated the second half. The home team outscored McClellan 20-10 in the third quarter and 15-4 in the fourth.

Jayla Bell added 10 points for the Lady Bears while fellow sophomore Kourtney Johnson added nine for her season high.