Monday, February 06, 2017

SPORTS >> Lady Bears take control in fourth

Leader sports editor

The Sylvan Hills ladies made their home-and-home series with Jacksonville a sweep on Tuesday. Exactly a week after struggling to a 47-41 win at Jacksonville, the Lady Bears took control a little earlier at home for a 59-38 victory in a 5A/6A-Central matchup.

“I think we played better than we did at Jacksonville,” said Sylvan Hills coach Shelley Davis. “We finished better anyway. We still had a few moments I didn’t like, but not as many. I’m hoping maybe we’ve reached a turning point. We finished strong at PA. What killed us there was spotting them 10 points at the very beginning. We’ve played with more focus overall since that game. I’m just afraid some of our other lapses earlier this year could come back and bite us.”

The first quarter was close. Sylvan Hills scored the first six points of the game, but Jacksonville came back and trailed just 11-7 by the end of the quarter. Sylvan Hills led 13-11 early in the second period when Jacksonville went cold from the floor, and the Lady Bears took command.

Sylvan Hills’ defense made finding open shots difficult for Jacksonville. But even when they were available, Jacksonville suffered through shooting woes. The Lady Titans missed nine-consecutive shot attempts over a five-minute span.

Meanwhile Andrea Dol-phin came off the bench to provide a scoring spark for the home team. Her 3-pointer with 3:03 left in the half gave Sylvan Hills its first double-digit lead at 22-11.

Alexis James finally broke the scoring drought for Jacksonville with a driving basket that made it 22-13 with 1:30 to go. Dolphin answered that just a few seconds later with another 3-pointer that gave the Lady Bears their biggest lead of the half at 25-13.

Jacksonville pulled to within 27-18 by intermission, and scored first in the second half, but never got any closer.

After the opening basket of the second half, Jacksonville committed three unforced turnovers on its next three possessions. Sylvan Hills scored after each one. Lainie Ballard scored five-straight points with a short jumper and a 3-pointer, and Diamond Flanders got an offensive rebound and putback for a 34-20 Lady Bear lead.

Jacksonville freshman and leading scorer Shymaryia Christopher missed almost all of the second quarter with two fouls, and picked up her third foul less three minutes into the third quarter on Flanders’ putback with 5:03 left in the quarter.

James then got the rim for Jacksonville, and followed that with a steal and layup to make it 34-24 just 23 seconds after Christopher’s foul.

Davis called timeout, but Christopher stole the ball on the ensuing possession, giving Jacksonville (11-15, 3-6) a prime opportunity to get back to within single digits. But the possession didn’t go well.

Christopher missed a wide-open transition layup after the steal, as no Lady Bear chased her down the floor. Jacksonville’s DeShundria Shockley did follow the ball. She got the rebound, but also missed an uncontested layup. She got the rebound again, but this time her shot was altered by Alana Canady, who grabbed the rebound after the third miss.

Sylvan Hills threw the ball away again, but again Jacksonville failed to capitalize.

Christopher picked up her fourth foul with 2:10 left in the third, and the Lady Bears took a 44-32 lead into the fourth period.

Jacksonville suffered its worst offensive quarter of the game and Sylvan Hills pulled away.

Canady led Sylvan Hills in scoring with 13 points, and added eight rebounds. Jayla Bell posted another double-double with 12 points and 14 rebounds. Dolphin scored 10, Mallory Kimble nine and Ballard eight for Sylvan Hills (13-8, 5-4).

The Lady Bears hosted J.A. Fair on Friday while Jacksonville hosted Maumelle. Look for details of those games in Wednesday’s edition of The Leader