Leader Blues

Sunday, December 31, 2006

SPORTS >>Lady Badgers maul Wildcats in tourney

IN SHORT: The Beebe Lady Badgers destroyed an uncharacteristially flat Harding Academy team during the first round of the First Security Bank/White County Medical Center Christmas Classic.

By JASON KING
Leader sports writer

It was the surprise of the first round of the First Security Bank/White County Medical Center tournament. Most people expected an improved Beebe Lady Badgers team to give powerhouse Harding Academy a good game, but no one anticipated the 61-29 shellacking the host team handed to the Lady Wildcats during Thursday’s first round.

Beebe senior guard Tristan Rettig could not be stopped in the first half. Rettig has been relatively quiet during the first few weeks of the season, but made her presence known at Badger Arena Thursday night. She finished with 17 points to lead Beebe, with 13 of her points coming in the first half.

For the first time all season, the Lady Wildcats were faced with a deficit so large that the clock ran continually through the fourth quarter. Harding Academy head coach Darren Mathews took out his stunned starters at the 3:05 mark of the third quarter, conceding the game to Beebe early.

The Lady Badgers’ inside play was flawless in the second quarter. Five different Beebe players found their way to the hoop in the paint during the frame, extending a 13-6 lead at the end of the first quarter to a dominating 39-14 lead by halftime.
Any chances of a Harding Academy comeback were gone by the middle of the third quarter. Beebe continued to control the game inside during the second half, keeping senior HA post Jennifer Kee off the boards and allowed very few second chance shots for the Lady ‘Cats.

“We pulled down a lot of rebounds that we were able to take the length of the floor,” Beebe coach Lara Jackson said. “This is a big win for us; I felt like we played with a lot of intensity, and took advantage of our opportunities.”

Jackson says the prospect of a rematch with unofficial sister school Lonoke was a big motivational tool for her team. After losing to the Lady ‘Rabbits a few weeks ago in a game that saw Beebe up by 14 points at one point, Jackson said her girls were anxious for a chance to redeem themselves.

“They were happy to see Lo-noke on our side of the bracket,” Jackson said. “We played well the first time, and had a little bit of a let down. We’re glad to have the opportunity to play them again.” Lonoke set the first part of the rematch earlier in the day with the other mercy-ruled game of the first round, beating Hazen 45-14.

The Lady Wildcats jumped out to an early 5-2 lead with a basket and foul shot from Liz Ashley and two more free throws from Kee, but sophomore Ty O’Neil scored the first four Beebe points to make it a one-point game.

O’Neil started to struggle from the floor at that point, but Rettig was more than prepared to take up the slack. She swished a three pointer at the 5:31 mark for her first points of the game, giving the Lady Badgers their first lead of 7-5.

They would never trail again.

Beebe held a modest 13-6 lead at the end of the first, but turned their advantage into an overwhelming one in the second. The Lady Badgers only missed three shots from the floor in the second quarter, while Harding Academy only came away with a pair of baskets from Ashley in the entire frame. The other four HA points came from free throws, allowing Beebe to run the score to 39-14 at the intermission.

Rettig led the Lady Badgers with 17 points; O’Neil added 12 points for Beebe.

Starters Emily Bass and Ashley Watkins did not finish in double digits scoring-wise, but both had a number of perfect assists to Rettig in the second quarter, Along with a number of key rebounds on the defensive side.

The win improved Beebe’s record to 3-6 on the season, and put them in the winners bracket for last night’s coveted rematch against Lonoke.