Friday, December 01, 2017

SPORTS STORY>>Beebe holds back Hillside

Leader sports editor

A 17-point lead slipped away, but victory did not for the Beebe boys’ basketball team. The Badgers kept their composure in the face of a furious comeback to beat Sylvan Hills 46-42 for their first victory of the season Tuesday at Badger Arena.

Free throws were the only thing that kept Sylvan Hills within striking distance throughout the first half. The Bears started two freshmen, and the Beebe defense harassed them heavily. But that aggression also caused the fouls to pile up quickly. Sylvan Hills was in the bonus with 1:43 still left in the first quarter, and made their free throws.

The Bears didn’t make a shot from the floor until Demetrius Torrence’s 3-pointer with 2:58 left in the first quarter, and it tied the game at 9-9.

Beebe led 13-11 at the end of the first quarter, and then clamped down even tighter on defense. The Badgers opened the second period with a 13-0 run and didn’t allow the Bears to score again until less than three minutes to go in the half.

Sylvan Hills had only one basket until freshman point guard Caleb Campbell scored with 1:10 left in the half to make the score 27-15, and that was the second and last basket of the half for the Bears.

Sylvan Hills went 2 for 20 from the floor in the first half. Beebe added a 3-pointer by Lance Grey to take a 30-15 lead into the locker room.

The Bears got it to start the third period, but missed. Beebe’s D’Andre Butler and E.J. Smith beat everybody to the other end of the floor, and Smith took a Butler pass to give Beebe its largest lead of the game at 32-15.

That’s where everything changed.

The whole game reversed at that point. Sylvan Hills, which had played zone most of the game, made the unorthodox move for a team down by 17, and packed the zone in even tighter.

Beebe tried to take advantage by holding the ball, and the Bears seemed content to let it happen, much to the chagrin of some vocal fans on the visitors’ side. But Bear coach Kevin Davis had a plan, and it got his team back into the game.

After a long stretch of no action, the Bears attacked with matchups and traps out of the zone, and Beebe did not handle it well. That sparked a Sylvan Hills run coupled with a long scoreless drought for Beebe.

Smith’s bucket 30 seconds into the third quarter was Beebe’s only points of that period. Sylvan Hills finally started making some shots, and were within 32-27 by the start of the fourth quarter.

The run didn’t stop there. Campbell got a steal to start the fourth quarter and made 1 of 2 free throws. Zion Butler then got a steal and passed to Jordan Rainey for a 16-foot jumper from the baseline. That forced a timeout by Beebe coach Ryan Marshall, but out of the break, the Badgers couldn’t get across the half-court line before 10 seconds.

Campbell was fouled again on the ensuing possession, but missed the front end of a 1-and-1 trip to the line. The Badgers finally broke a nearly 10-minute drought when Beebe’s D’Andre Butler scored and was fouled with 5:49 left in the game. His free throw put Beebe up 35-30.

Foul trouble then began to catch up to Sylvan Hills. The team’s only two seniors and only two players with any varsity experience from a year ago, Zion Butler and post player Alex Curry, both fouled out within 47 seconds of each other, and both with more than half of the fourth quarter left to play.

But Rainey made a 3-pointer that pulled Sylvan Hills to within 35-34 with 4:28 left. D’Andre Butler then made 1 of 2 with 3:18 to go to make it 36-34.

Campbell followed by missing the front end of another 1-and-1 with 2:48 to play, and suddenly the game became a blistering-paced, back-and-forth affair.

Grey hit a transition bucket and Campbell answered back immediately. Jarron Harriott then got a steal and scored before D’Andre Butler and Smith hooked up again. Sylvan Hills freshman Jalen Ricks answered that basket and when the dust settled, the score was 40-40 with 2:01 to go.

After a series of misses by both teams, Campbell made two free throws to give the Bears their first lead of the game with 1:11 left, but they were Sylvan Hills’ final points.

Smith made one foul shot before the Bears were called for over and back at midcourt. Trey Williams then hit two free throws for a 43-42 Badger lead.

Ricks then missed a running floater and Grey got the rebound. Butler went back to the line to make 1 of 2 before Smith forced Campbell into a turnover with 21 seconds to go. Williams went back to the line with 13 tics remaining and made both shots to set the final margin.

D’Andre Butler was the only player in double digits with 22 points. Smith finished with seven points and seven rebounds for Beebe. Ricks and Curry each had eight points for Sylvan Hills. Campbell scored seven while Zion Butler had six points and a game-high eight rebounds.

Beebe played in the Potts-ville tournament this weekend while Sylvan Hills took part in the Trojan ESPN Showcase in Hot Springs. Look for information on both of those events in Wednesday’s edition of The Leader.