Saturday, November 18, 2017

SPORTS STORY >> Sylvan Hills makes final at Joe T.

Special to The Leader

The Sylvan Hills Lady Bears reached Saturday’s final of the Joe T. Robinson annual girls basketball tournament by defeating the Bald Knob Lady Bulldogs Thursday evening by a final of 57-25. The Lady Bears had defeated Mills 73-27 in Monday’s opening round.

Sylvan Hills will play the winner of Conway Christian and Caddo Hills at 11:30 in the tournament final on Saturday.

Sylvan Hills never trailed in the contest, jumping out to a 7-0 early lead and doubling up the Lady Bulldogs at intermission with a 40-20 advantage. The Lady Bears capitalized on Bald Knob turnovers the entire game, and held the Lady Bulldogs to five points in the second half.

“We shot much better tonight, causing the lead to jump on up there,” Sylvan Hills coach Shelley Davis commented. “We had career highs from Lainie Ballard and KJ Johnson. I’m very proud of their unselfishness and team play.”

Johnson scored the first two baskets of the game, followed by a 3-pointer by Jayla Bell to give Sylvan Hills the 7-0 start. Whitney Byers got the Lady Bulldogs on the scoreboard with a layup. Ballard hit the first of her three 3-point baskets, Gerkari Parker had an offensive rebound put back, followed by Ballard’s second 3-pointer to give the Lady Bears a 15-4 lead. Kinlee Varnell answered with a three for Bald Knob, but Ballard sank her third three.

A pair of baskets pulled the Lady Bulldogs to within 18-11, but a driving lay-in by Alana Canady, another bucket under the basket by Johnson on an assist by Bell, and then a 3-pointer by Bell gave the Lady Bears a 25-11 advantage at the end of the opening frame.

Johnson also scored the first two Lady Bear baskets of the second period, the first with a free throw added and made. Parker had another offensive rebound put back, this time of her own miss, Olivia Wilkins a layup, and Canady a layup on an assist by Wilkins.

Madi Pierce had six points in the quarter for the Lady Bulldogs, but Parker had yet another offensive rebound put back, and Canady one as well to give Sylvan Hills the comfortable 40-20 halftime lead.

It was all Lady Bears in the third as well, as they did not allow a Bald Knob score, while scoring 12 themselves. Canady led the way with six points.

Each team scored five in the final frame. Aaliyah Smith had a two in the lane, and Leriah Cly a three for the Lady Bears. Kahlan Gracey sank the front end on a one-and-one for Bald Knob to set the final score at 57-25.

Johnson led Sylvan Hills in scoring with 15 points. Canady was next with 12 points, Ballard added nine, and Parker eight.

Pierce had 11 points for Bald Knob, and Varnell had nine.

Rebounding was even for the teams, but the Lady Bulldogs had 19 turnovers while Sylvan Hills had eight.

Bald Knob went to the free throw line 14 times and made six, while Johnson sank the only free throw attempted by a Lady Bear.

In Monday’s win over Mills, Wilkins led the Lady Bears with 13 points. Aaliyah Bynum added 12 and Canady had 10.

Both Sylvan Hills teams will play Tuesday at Morrilton.