Leader Blues

Monday, February 12, 2007

SPORTS >>Falcons get important win against the Pioneers

IN SHORT: North Pulaski knocked off Batesville at home Tuesday night to stay in a tie for second place in the 5A-East.

Leader sports writer

The North Pulaski Falcons kept themselves in the thick of the 5A-East Conference chase on Tuesday night with a comfortable 68-53 win over Batesville. The Falcons built a 19-point lead by the intermission, and maintained the advantage through the final two periods to secure the win.

The win puts NP’s conference record at 5-3, half a game out of what is already a two-way tie for second between Nettleton and Wynne. The Raiders and Yellowjackets are both 6-3, with North Pulaski and Blytheville both at 5-3, with a game between them to be made up a week from today in Jacksonville.

“That one is going to be huge,” NP coach Raymond Cooper said. “We control our own destiny at this point. That’s what you want at this point in the season, you don’t want to have to depend on this team losing or that team winning, we just want to go out and take care of our own business and do the things we need to do to get into the playoffs. If we can do that, I think we will be alright when the time comes.”

The Falcons took care of that business early on Tuesday, going up 34-15 over the Pioneers at halftime. The second half was more of the same, as NP led by 18 points heading into the final quarter.

Freshman DaQuen Bryant led offensively for the Falcons with 13 points. Rod Banks and Quinn Cooper each added 11 points for North Pulaski. For Batesville, Marquis Sledge led with way with 17 points, and post player Thomas Showalter added nine. The win gives North Pulaski an 11-8 overall record and 5-3 in the 5A-East.

“I thought we played as well as we have all year in the first half,” Cooper said. “In the second half, we got a little sloppy defensively once we got out to that lead, but we did what we needed to do down the stretch.”

After last year’s dismal season, the Falcons have looked like a completely different squad all the way around this year. Cooper gives the majority of the credit for the successful turnaround to the dedication of this year’s seniors.

“The biggest thing was really having an actual off season to work with them,” Cooper said. “The dedication of our seniors has been tremendous; that’s been one of the biggest factors. I was sick one day, and they went ahead and ran the practice without me, and had a pretty good practice from what I understand. I have to give a lot of credit to Tony Glass. After he got hurt, he still showed up at every practice until his surgery, and participated.

“It has been our goal since the end of last season to get to the playoffs this year. I talked to the seniors at the end of the season, because we knew that there wouldn’t be very many players besides them with much court time. They decided to work hard throughout the summer. We have given ourselves a chance, now we have to go out and finish it.”

The Lady Falcons lost to the Lady Pioneers 57-29 on Tuesday. Tarneisha Ridgeway and Tamara Rhodes led the Lady Falcons with eight points each.

North Pulaski played at Greene County Tech last night, and will play at Beebe on Tuesday.