Leader Blues

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

SPORTS >>Owls fall short at St. Joe’s

By JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

The Owls finished tops at the Harmony Grove invitational Saturday night, and nearly upset one of the state’s toughest programs the night before. Abundant Life put on a clinic in the final round of the BHG tourney over the host team Cardinals to take a 79-34 win, after giving up a late lead to Conway St. Joseph in a 73-65 loss on Friday.

While the CSJ game was not tournament related, Abundant Life coach Tim Ballard believes the tough game Friday night led to an easier than expected win in the final tournament game Saturday.

“We were really concerned going into that game,” Ballard said. “The last time we played them, they took it down to the wire, and we had just played such a tough game the night before, so we didn’t really know what to expect. I guess going to see the best the state has helped us, because we were a step quicker and a little bit stronger than Harmony Grove all night.”

The Owls led at halftime 53-20, and even more defensive pressure in the second half held the Cardinals to only 14 points in the second half. Meanwhile, senior guard Colby Woolverton led with 20 points after playing sparsely in the first half due to a minor neck injury. Junior Dane Lottner added 10 points, all of which came in the first half, and senior post Robert Perry added 12 points for Abundant Life.

All four AL teams posted solid results in the tournament. The Lady Owls beat Spartan in the third-place consolation game convincingly at 54-22. The jr. Lady Owls made it to the bracket finals, but fell to hosts Harmony Grove 24-22 in the title game. The jr. Owls won their third-place game to give all Abundant Life teams top three finishes.

Friday’s loss to Conway St. Joseph promised to be a runaway affair for the Owls in the early going. Abundant Life rushed out to a 24-14 lead at the end of the first quarter, and maintained all but two of that interval during the next eight-minute frame to lead 40-32 at the intermission. Outstanding shooting for Woolverton and Lottner helped the Owls out to the early advantage. In fact, Lottner picked up half of his game totals in the first quarter with four three-point shots.

Woolverton would go on to lead Abundant Life in scoring with 28 points, and added eight assists in the game. Lottner ended up with 23 points against St. Joseph.

“They are definitely as good as advertised,” Ballard said of CSJ. “They poured it on the whole game, we were just pouring it back in the first half. We knew we wouldn’t be able to stop them, we were just trying to keep scoring with them.”

The Bulldogs would rally on the heels of a packed homecoming crowd in the second half. St. Joseph pulled to within one at 53-52 at the end of the third quarter, and got hot inside in the final eight minutes on the heels of senior post (NAME) Heathscott.

The Owls are now 8-2 on the season, and will host England next Tuesday night.