Friday, March 04, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Hillside ladies strong in loss

Leader sports staff

HOT SPRINGS – Sylvan Hills began the Class 5A state tournament with a 64-52 win over Little Rock Christian Academy in the first round on Thursday, and led No. 1 East seed Batesville by two at halftime of Friday’s quarterfinal round, but the Lady Pioneers dominated the second half en route to a 75-45 win.

Senior guard Da’Bria Thompson had an excellent first half for the Lady Bears. She scored 14 of the Lady Bears’ first 16 points. Batesville (25-3) led 15-11 at the end of the first quarter, but Sylvan Hills (18-8) opened the second quarter with a 10-0 run to lead 21-15.

Batesville battled back and kept the score close the rest of the half, but the Lady Bears took a 31-29 lead into halftime. The second half was a completely different ballgame.

The Lady Pioneers turned up the pressure defensively and capitalized on several Sylvan Hills turnovers. The Lady Bears had eight turnovers in the third quarter alone, while Batesville had four the entire second half.

Batesville’s Hannah Qualls scored the first six Lady Pioneer points of the third quarter, with the third bucket giving Batesville a 35-34 lead. With 1:41 remaining in the quarter, Haley Cole drained a 3-pointer from the top of the key to up the Lady Pioneer lead to 46-37.

At the end of the third, Sylvan Hills trailed 47-40. The fourth quarter began with two quick baskets by Gracen Ratliff, which put the Lady Pioneers up 51-40. Batesville’s lead only grew from there and the Lady Pioneers set the 30-point margin with an Alley Edwards basket inside the paint on their final possession.

Thompson led SHHS with 18 points. Raigen Thomas added 14. Qualls led Batesville with 26 points. Ratliff scored 14 points and Cole finished with 11.

In Thursday’s win over Little Rock Christian Academy, the Lady Bears struggled early with turnovers, and went through brief streaks of turnovers throughout the contest, but they dominated rebounds and handled the Lady Warriors’ pressure well enough to get many open shots in the lane.

“I think we still have some maturity issues,” said Sylvan Hills coach Shelley Davis. “We’re still a very young team. But at the same time, I think we’re seeing some maturity develop in front of our eyes. We came out pretty spastic and was throwing the ball away, but we didn’t completely lose it. They regained their composure out there and started implementing the game plan like we practiced.”

The inside game kept Sylvan Hills close in the second half. Forwards Alana Canady, Reighan Thomas and Jayla Bell combined for 16 of Sylvan Hills’ 20 first-half points.

The Lady Warriors fired early and often from long range, but those shots never fell consistently. Still, LRCA held a one-point lead at the break.

The second half belonged to Sylvan Hills’ senior point guard Da’Bria Thompson. She found that the key to beating the fullcourt man defense was with the dribble. The Warriors had trouble recovering once the press was broken, and Thompson got to the rim and the free-throw line frequently in the second half.

She scored 12 points in the third quarter, all from the floor. She added 14 more in the second quarter, including 10 from the foul line to finish with a game-high 29 points.

Sylvan Hills trailed 25-23 with 6:20 left in the third quarter, but went on a 15-3 run to take a 38-28 lead with 1:39 on the clock. Thompson scored the last seven of the run, but then committed back-to-back turnovers and LRCA scored five quick points to make it 38-33 with 21 second to go.

Thompson then hit a long 3-pointer for the last shot of the quarter that sent the Lady Bears into the fourth with an eight-point lead.

Thompson scored the first bucket of the fourth, and after a Canady steal, Bell put back a Thompson miss.

Sylvan Hills largest lead was 55-41 with three minutes remaining after Thomas got one of many Lady Bear offensive rebounds and put it back in.

Sylvan Hills outrebounded LRCA 40-24. Bell finished with a double-double, scoring 13 points and grabbing 16 rebounds. Thomas also scored 13 points for Sylvan Hills and had six rebounds. Canady finished with eight points, nine rebounds, four steals and three blocked shots.

Sylvan Hills went 20 of 54 from the floor, including 2 of 9 3-pointers, and was 22 of 32 form the foul line.

LRCA went 20 of 66 from the floor, but was just 6 of 28 from 3-point range and 6 of 10 from the free-throw line.