Friday, February 24, 2017

SPORTS STORY >> Sylvan Hills makes it to state

Leader sports editor

The Sylvan Hills Bears played its second-consecutive game against Little Rock Chris-tian Academy on Wednesday, with a lot more riding on the outcome than in the Bears’ 65-56 overtime loss to the Warriors last Friday. Wednesday’s matchup in Maumelle was in the 5A-Central District tournament. A playoff berth was on the line, and the Bears seized it, beating the Warriors 56-50 to guarantee a spot in the 5A state tournament in Magnolia next week.

Things did not start well for the fifth-seeded Bears. LRCA jumped out and scored the first eight points of the game, but that was to be its largest lead of the contest. Sylvan Hills pulled to within 14-10 by the end of the first quarter, and a Jordan Washington free throw 80 seconds into the second quarter tied the game at 14.

The Bears took their first lead on a 3-pointer by Washington that made the score 19-17. LRCA reclaimed the lead with 1:47 left in the half, but Sylvan Hills controlled the third quarter and took a 38-31 lead into the fourth period.

Things changed dramatically and quickly after Taleh Wade scored with 7:05 left to put the Bears up 42-33. The Warriors turned on the full court pressure and were within five just 45 seconds later.

The two teams traded empty possessions and several missed free throws over the next few minutes. Justice Hill made a pair of free throws with 3:57 to go that put LRCA to within 45-42. After a Sylvan Hills turnover, Hill missed a pair of free throws. Sylvan Hills got the rebound, but Hill stole the ball and scored to make it a one-point game with 3:13 left on the clock.

J.D. Smith missed a short jumper for SH. LRCA’s Willie Chappel then made 1 of 2 free throws with 2:54 to play to tie the game at 45.

Sylvan Hills’ JacobĂ© Davis then made a pair of free throws and the Bears led the rest of the way. LRCA missed at the other end. Washington got the rebound and was fouled, but he missed both foul shots. LRCA missed again and Jamal Johnson got the rebound.

Hill stole the ball near midcourt but lost it. Smith picked it up and threw to Johnson who was alone at the time. As he went up for a transition dunk, Hill raced the length of the floor and fouled Johnson hard, sending him careening head first towards the floor.

After a few exchanged words, Johnson calmly made both free throws for a four-point Bears’ lead with 1:39 remaining.

LRCA missed again and the rebound went out of bounds. Smith was fouled with 59 seconds left and missed both shots. But the Warriors continued to be unable to find the range as time ran down. Hill’s missed 3-pointer was grabbed by Johnson.

Smith again went to the line for the Bears, and this time made both shots for a 51-45 lead with 47 seconds to go. But the game was not over yet.

LRCA’s Will Strickland finally made a long 3-pointer that made it a three-point game with 39 seconds to go, but that’s as close as the Warriors would get.

Sylvan Hills easily broke the Warriors’ press after a timeout. Johnson missed an open layup, but Smith was there for an easy putback with 30 tics to go.

The Bears lost 62-44 in the semifinals to No. 1 ranked Mills University Studies on Thursday in a game that was closer than the final score indicates.

It appeared early that the 27-1 Comets would run away, taking a 27-11 lead halfway through the second period. But the Bears rallied, and pulled to within nine by halftime.

Sylvan Hills (16-11) never got closer than eight, but didn’t trail by more than 12 again until a bizarre technical foul on Wade gave Mills a six-point possession with 3:57 left in the game.

The Comets made 3 of 4 free throws after the technical, and then made a 3-pointer that gave them an 18-point lead. The Bears played JA Fair on Friday after Leader deadlines to determine the three and four seeds.