Leader Blues

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

SPORTS >>Lady Badgers earn title

By JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

It wasn’t the shootout that many had wished for and anticipated, but the historical significance carried what the action may not have provided during a rather nondescript 43-32 win for the Beebe Lady Badgers over Lonoke during the championship game of the First Security/Gillam Farms Holiday Classic at the Badger Sports Arena on Saturday. It marked the first time the Lady Badgers took the championship win in their own tournament in eight trys.

The hostesses kept pressure on Lo-noke sophomore post Asiah Scribner, who turned out to be the only consistant provider of points to the otherwise struggling Lady Jackrabbits. A total of zero field goal attempts by sophomore guard Ashleigh Hempstead, combined with a shocking 1 of 9 performance behind the three-point line for senior Hayley O’Cain meant there was only one place the Lady ‘Rabbits could go for points, and the Lady Badgers didn’t need a ton of bricks to fall on their heads.

“I felt like we played well during the whole tournament,” Lady Badgers coach Lora Jackson said. “We were a little sluggish on Thursday, but you have to expect that after some time off. Their perimeter shooting started struggling, and I thought we had good defense inside to limit their post player.”

Beebe senior Emily Bass has earned her reputation as a stout defensive player over the last few years for the Lady Badgers, but she took it to Lonoke on both ends of the court Saturday, finishing with 10 points and a five rebounds.

“She played a great game for us tonight,” Jackson said. “She did all the things she needed to do. We have had a different girl step up every night of the tournament, which has been good to see. Last night it was Audre (Renneker), and of course, the first night it was Ty O’Neill. Ty and Neshia (Upchurch) had well-rounded scoring for us all weekend, but sometimes, when you know they’re going to key in on certain people, you have to have other people waiting in the wings to make plays, and Emily gave us that spark tonight.”

O’Neill’s prowess did not go unrealized during the title game. She went on to lead the Lady Badgers with 16 points, while Upchurch did most of her dazzling on the defensive side wtih four steals.

Lonoke took control early, scoring the first seven points of the game to take the initial lead. Scribner put up the first four points off inside jumpers, and O’Cain knocked down what turned out to be her only points of the night at the 5:19 mark to give the Lady Jackrabbits a 7-0 advantage. Bass and O’Neill finally answered for Beebe in the last three minutes of the frame.

The Lady ‘Rabbits clung to an 11-9 lead at the end of the first quarter, but they soon watched their lead disapper for good during the following period.

The Lady Badgers picked up their transition game at that point, with a pair of fast break baskets by Upchurch, along with a bucket and foul shot for O’Neill that gave Beebe a 17-11 lead by the 4:47 mark of the second quarter. A Lonoke point was not generated in the second quater until 3:26 remained, when a pair of Scribner free throws ended nearly seven minutes without a score for the Lady Jackrabbits. Beebe slowly built up its lead in the second quarter, ending up with a 23-16 advantage at the intermission.

Lonoke came out with different strategy in the second half, but no amount of adjustments could contain Bass and the Lady Badgers. Bass scored six of her points in the game during the first five minutes of the third quarter, with a put back of her own miss at the 3:34 mark to give her 10 points on the night, and give the Lady Badgers their first double digit advantage of the game at 30-20.

Micheala Brown and Carrie Mitchell began to get in the mis offensively for Lonoke in an attempt to lend relief to an overworked and severely over guarded Scribner, but it was far from enough. The Lady Badgers hit six of 10 free throws in the final quarter while holding Lonoke to as many points.

O’Neill led the Lady Badgers with 16 points. Bass added 10 points and four rebounds for Beebe. For Lonoke, Scribner led all scorers with 17 points. Mitchell led in rebounds for the Lady Jackrabbits with seven boards. The win gives Beebe a 9-2 record on the season, while Lonoke fell to 12-4 with the loss.