Leader Blues

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

SPORTS >>Sylvan Hills pounds Blue Devils

IN SHORT: The Bears improved to 2-1 in conference play Friday by knocking off West Memphis. The Lady Bears fell to 0-3 with a loss to the top-ranked Lady Blue Devils.

Leader sports writer

After a dismal start to the season, the Sylvan Hills Bears have begun their 6A-East Conference campaign strongly. The Bears improved their league record to 2-1 on Friday with a big conference home win over West Memphis 51-36.

The first half was a tremendous defensive struggle, but the Bears began to open things up in the second half, while keeping the defensive pressure on the Blue Devils through most of the last two frames. Sylvan Hills led 17-11 at the intermission, but built a 10-point lead by the end of the third quarter, and would not allow West Memphis any closer than within six points in the final period.

“We were a little sluggish in the first half,” Bears coach Kevin Davis said. “But that’s what you kind of have to expect when you play during semester-test week. As a coach, you have to be prepared for the worst in situations like this, but I thought we did a good job of getting back on track in the second half.”

Bears junior post player Julian Bassett dominated on the boards defensively in the fourth quarter, but all of his eight points in the frame came from the charity stripe. The 6’7” Bassett looked relaxed at the line during his perfect eight-for-eight run at the foul line, helping the Bears increase a 31-23 lead at the 5:50 mark of the fourth quarter to a 39-24 lead by the 3:29 mark.

Sylvan Hills’ only non-free- throw score in the fourth quarter came from a Chris Wallace layup with 2:52 remaining. The Bears were sent to the line for the remainder of the game, but kept Bassett’s consistency at the stripe with 10 of 12 attempts made in the final two minutes.

Free throws would be a big story for the Blue Devils down the stretch as well, but only for different reasons. West Memphis was only six of 15 at the line in the final frame, allowing the Bears to box them out on several rebound opportunities.

“We were able to challenge their guys inside,” Davis said. “We used Julian Bassett down low in an effort to get some of the smaller guys on the boards. He hit eight or nine in a row for us at the line also, so we got a strong game out of him. I thought Chris Wallace had a good game for us. He had some big threes for us, and got our outside game going.”

Wallace picked up in the second half what Tony Robinson started in the opening minutes of the game. Robinson put the first points on the board for the Bears in the first quarter with a three-point shot at the 4:59 mark. Robinson would also hit another three at the 1:43 mark to give Sylvan Hills a 6-0 lead.

Robinson would keep the momentum going for the Bears in the second quarter with a steal that he took coast to coast for a layup, giving Sylvan Hills an 8-5 lead.

Both teams struggled through the remainder of the first half, and the first four minutes of the third quarter. Business picked up offensively for both teams at that point, especially for the Bears. Wallace hit an 18-footer with 44 seconds left in the third quarter after picking up a steal, and followed that with a three-pointer with only nine seconds left in the frame to give the Bears a 29-19 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Wallace went on to lead the Bears with 14 points. Bassett and Robinson both finished with eight points. The win gives Sylvan Hills an overall record of 5-11 and a conference record of 2-1. The loss drops West Memphis to 5-9 and 0-3 in conference.
The girls contest was a rout from the opening minutes of the game, as the Lady Blue Devils rushed out to a blistering 24-4 lead at the end of the first quarter, and extended that lead even further to a 38-8 lead at the intermission.

Along with forced shots that gave West Memphis several defensive rebounds in the first half, 21 turnovers for the Lady Bears did little to help their cause.

Sylvan Hills finally found some offensive finesse in the second half, denying West Memphis the mercy-rule until the final three minutes of the game. In fact, the Lady Bears outscored West Memphis 15-11 in the third quarter, after the Lady Devils began to substitute.

“Those turnovers in the first half killed us,” Lady Bears coach Bee Rodden said. “When you give the ball away to a good team like that, you’re not going to have much of a chance. We did some good things in the third quarter, we just didn’t start out very well.”

Kierra Johnson led the Lady Bears with eight points. Senior Rachele Dobbins added seven points after sitting out most of the second quarter due to a minor injury. Dobbins returned to the second half for most of her points, along with three steals. Trinity Thomas added five points for Sylvan Hills. For West Memphis, Brea Banks led all scorers with 14 points. The Lady Bears are now 4-10 and 0-3 in the conference.