Tuesday, January 10, 2017

SPORTS STORY >> Badgers hot in second

Leader sports editor

The Beebe boys’ basketball team took charge late in the second quarter and never trailed in the second half of a 60-53 victory over Searcy at Badger Arena on Saturday.

The Badgers’ second quarter outburst in the final three minutes came in response to coach Ryan Marshall’s impassioned speech during a timeout. The timeout was called after Beebe had squandered a nine-point first-quarter lead.

The Badgers jumped ahead 15-6 in the first quarter after senior Grant Brown came off the bench for back-to-back 3-pointers. Beebe was holding for the last shot when Searcy’s Malik Branch stepped into the passing lane at the top of the key and hit a layup to make it 15-8 just before the buzzer ended the quarter.

The Lions (6-9, 0-1) then scored the first 12 points of the second quarter to take a 20-15 lead with 4:05 left in the first half.

That’s when Marshall called his second timeout, and expressed his dissatisfaction with how his team was playing.

“I thought that one possession when they beat us back on transition, we were loafing,” said Marshall. “We just lost concentration and focus and I thought they needed to be challenged. I thought they responded. I thought the last two minutes were great. We got a steal, got some energy going, got another one. We went several minutes before that without scoring, but we turned that around really well.”

Brad Worthington broke the scoring drought with a short jumper that made it 20-17 with 3:12 left in the half. It was the first two points of a 17-1 Beebe run to close the second quarter.

Worthington then converted a 3-point play and sophomore point guard Jace Shillcut hit a 3-pointer for a 23-20 Beebe lead with 1:42 left. Branch got the line and hit 1 of 2 foul shots for Searcy’s only point in the last four minutes of the half. Brown then made his third 3-pointer of the game for a 26-21 Beebe lead with 1:20 to play.

Brown then stole a Searcy pass and hit Worthington in transition for a layup. The final minute of the half was all Bradley Worthington.

He took a charge with 50 seconds to go, and put back a teammate’s miss with 14 seconds left. Worthington finished the half with a steal at halfcourt and a transition layup to send the Badgers into the locker room with a 32-21 lead.

Beebe’s lead was 36-24 with five minutes to go in the third quarter. That’s when Searcy mounted its comeback attempt. The Lions were within 44-37 by the end of the third, and then scored the first four points of the fourth to pull within 44-41 with 7:15 left in the game.

K.J. O’Neill answered with a 3-point for Beebe, but Searcy scored the next four points to make it 47-45 with 6:14 remaining. Searcy had two possessions to tie, but missed two shots from the floor, and the front end of a 1-and-1 trip to the line.

Beebe (6-9, 2-0) had no such trouble from the free-throw line down the stretch. The Badgers went 11 for 11 from the line in the final five minutes.

It started with Trey Williams making a pair with 4:48 to go for a 49-45 lead. Branch answered for Searcy with 4:30 to go to again make it a two-point game. Worthington then converted a 3-point play for Beebe’s last field goal of the game with 4:16 remaining. Branch then shot an air ball that went out of bounds, but Michael Money got a steal and made two free throws to pull Searcy to within one possession.

Worthington made two foul shots with 3:10 to go for a five-point lead, and Searcy never got closer.

The win was a crucial one for Beebe for a pair of reasons. The Badgers had lost three straight, including their conference opener at Greenbrier, a team they had beaten earlier in the season. It was also important to not start 0-2 in the 5A/6A North-Central Conference.

“Conference not as much, but we had lost three straight and we were struggling,” Marshall said. “But we didn’t want to get off to an 0-2 start for sure.”

Beebe shot 38.4 percent from the floor (20 of 52) including 5 of 10 from 3-point range. Brown hitting three-straight early in the game played a big role in the outcome.

“It’s very important (for Brown to shoot well),” Marshall said. “He opens up lanes for K.J. He opens up the post for Bradley. It’s kind of been hit or miss with him this year, but when he’s on it’s a huge help.”

Worthington turned in a monstrous performance. The 6-foot-3-post player scored 27 points and had 11 rebounds, and made 9 of 10 free-throw attempts. Brown finished with 13 points for Beebe while O’Neill had nine.

Money led Searcy with 14 points while Julius Cooperwood added 12 for the Lions.

Saturday’s game was a makeup of the game canceled the day before because of snow. The Badgers hosted Vilonia on Tuesday and will keep it local against Mountain Home on Friday.