Leader Blues

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

SPORTS >>Comeback falls short, Owls beaten by Ramblers

By JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

If it wasn’t a rivalry before, it certainly is one now.

Abundant Life was a late turnover short of a stellar comback against Rose Bud, but the Ramblers held on to take a 58-53 win Tuesday night at ALS. The Lady Ramblers made it a sweep in the pair of 3A-2 Conference games, holding off the Lady Owls in the final quarter to win 43-35 in the first of the spirited match ups.

The crowd for both sides had very vocal roles during the boys’ varsity finale, as did the two teams’ coaches. AL coach Tim Ballard put all of his ref-working cards on the table with some entertaining, if not somewhat questionable antics, while Rose Bud coach Johnny Taylor screamed at everyone within reasonable proximity to the Ramblers’ bench.

Both teams worked their way progressively inward as the night went on. That was a huge benefit for the Owls, who came away with a 27 percent shooting average from behind the arc in the first half, compared to 66 percent for Rose Bud, mostly off the hand of senior Zach Prothro. Zach gave the AL defense fits in the first half, ending the first 16 minutes with 21 points, including four shots good for three, along with five of six shots from the free-throw line.

It wouldn’t be as easy for the Owls in the first half. They found themselves struggling from the outside, as leading scorers Colby Woolverton and Dane Lottner were denied the outside, and found driving inside almost as tough.

The outside was of little concern to the Owls in the second half. Post player Garrett Southerland converted a pair of threes in the second half, but every other point for Abundant Life was earned inside. On the defensive side, the Owls found a way to slow down Zach Prothro, allowing them to keep the score close down the stretch.

“It’s going to be like this in every conference game this year,” Rose Bud coach Taylor said. “Coach Ballard does an outstanding job with his kids to get them ready for big games like this. I thought my kids showed a lot of resolve whenever they came at us with the extra pressure.” Ballard was also proud of his team’s effort after the dramatic game.

“It is really tough to find open shots against them,” Ballard said. “They tend to overplay Colby and Dane some, and we had some other guys that were finding looks. When you play Rose Bud, sometimes you have to go in and throw up the first open shot you can find.”

As for his pair of entertaining patience testers on the refs, in which he pysched a Rose Bud player into letting a loose ball roll out of bounds, and had his players all move their chairs closer to the sideline, Ballard quipped that there is an explanation for everything.

“I made all the refs mad at me,” Ballard said with a grin. “They told me never to do that again. I said, ‘You mean I can’t put my hands out like I’m going to grab a basketball?’, and they just said, ‘No, you can’t, don’t do it again.’ The chair thing was me just trying to see. After I got my tech, they told me to sit down. I couldn’t see past the scorers table, so I moved my chair up, and they told me all the chairs had to be even. We scooted the other chairs up so I could see better. I wasn’t trying to show anyone up, I was just trying to see a good ballgame.”

Zach Prothro struck early and often for the Ramblers in the first quarter. He scored 10 points in the first three minutes of the game, including two three pointers that allowed Rose Bud to jump out to a 12-4 lead by the 4:42 mark. After a number of outside misses by Woolverton and Lottner, it was finally Terrell Ghant who would find the touch from the three-point line with a basket that cut the Ramblers’ lead to five.

An Abundant Life time out did little to slow down Zach Prothro. He was one shot and one free throw away from a perfect performance offensively in the first half. He ended up 5 of 6 from both the floor and foul line, along with a dizzying 4 for 4 from the three-point arc.

Woolverton and the Owls’ defense turned up the heat on Zach in the second half. The final 16 would not even be close to as kind for the standout, with only two field goals and a a 3 of 7 performance at the foul line. Instead, it was brother Zeb Prothro who found looks inside, along with guard Jacob Pio.

Rose Bud came out strong once again to start the second half. A jumper by Pio at the 4:07 mark gave the Ramblers a 41-32 lead. Bradley Moss then gave the Ramblers a double-digit lead for the first time all night with a chance for three, but he missed the foul shot following a basket and foul to leave the score at 43-32.

Southerland answered for the Owls with a three pointer, and Woolverton began to shake some of his heavy coverage by joining the mess inside. The move paid off on the next AL possession when he drew the foul trying to drive the lane.

Woolverton hit both ends of a two-shot foul to make the score 43-37 with just over a minute remaining in the third quarter.

A charge on Zeb Prothro gave the ball back to the Owls, and Lottner took it to the hoop off an assist by Woolverton to pull to within four, and another RB turnover gave Woolverton the last shot of the frame with a jumper off the glass that pulled Abundant Life to within two, 43-41.

The fourth quarter was intense, but started out on a bizarre note. Ballard talked briefly with an official before his players all moved their chairs up closer to the side line. Ballard had received a technical foul in the middle of the third quarter, and was relegated by the officials to stay in his seat.
These actions were much to the dimay of Taylor, who questioned Ballard’s actions. The two would have more direct words before the end of the game, when Woolverton went to the free throw line in the final minute after drawing the foul on a defensive board following a missed foul shot by Zach Prothro.

Zach had just gone in for a shot that put the Ramblers up 54-50, and drew the foul from ALs Ghant. His free throw bounced off the glass, and Woolverton and Southerland both went up for it. Taylor contested that it was Southerland, not Woolverton who should have gone to the line although it was Woolverton who actually came down with the ball. This caused yet another moment of doubt by the seemingly easily confused officiating crew, and prompted Ballard to openly challenge Taylor’s honesty regarding the foul from the sideline.

It was Woolverton who ended up at the line, as he made the front end of the two-shot foul. The second shot fell short, and Zeb Prothro was there for the rebound.

The possession resulted in a pair of missed free throws by Pio, and Robert Perry was there to pick up the rebound for the Owls.

With 15 seconds remaining and trailing by three, Woolverton set up the final offensive play with a pass to Ghant, but Cody Smith got in the way for the Ramblers and came away with the turnover. He was immediately fouled, and hit both free throws to give Rose Bud a two-possesion lead with less than 10 seconds remaining.

Woolverton led the Owls with 19 points and four steals. Lottner added 17 points, five rebounds and two blocks for Abundant Life.

Ghant had nine points and four assists for the Owls, while Southerland finished with eight points and five rebounds. For Rose Bud, Zach Prothro led all scorers with 28 points and five rebounds. The win leaves the Ramblers with a perfect 14-0 record, while the Owls fall to 15-4 overall and 2-2 in the 3A-2 Conference.

The Lady Owls may be winless in their early 3A-2 campaign, but they have hung with some of the best competition in 3A basketball. Brittany Sharp helped get Abundant Life to within six points of the Lady Ramblers in the second half after trailing by nine at the intermission, but Caty Wells and the RB ladies finished out strong in the final four minutes of the game.

Wells led the Lady Ramblers with 18 points, and had all but five points of the RB offense in the second half. Sharp led the Lady Owls with 17 points, with 11 points from Hannah Pastor and five points for Candice Eudy.

The win improves Rose Bud’s record to 8-4 overall and 3-2 in the 3A-2 Conference, while the Lady Owls fall to 5-13 and 0-4 in conference.