SPORTS>>Badgers knock off Riverview
The host team finally made it to the finals of its own Christmas Classic.
The Beebe Badgers relied on a balanced offensive performance, led by senior shooting guard Zach Kersey’s 21 points in a 60-51 win over Riverview on Monday night during the semifinal round at Badger Sports Arena.
The Raiders (10-6) matched Beebe (5-3) point for point during the last three periods, but were never able to make up for the quick start by the Badgers in the opening quarter. Beebe went up 18-9 in the first eight minutes and never looked back.
“We didn’t have to get ready for Riverviewbecause our kids and their kids know each other,” Badgers coach Brian Martin said. “I didn’t really have to try and get to them to get them up. Both teams were ready to play. There are a lot of friendships, and I knew our kids would be ready to play.
“We came out early and established our tempo, the way we wanted to play. Give credit to Riverview for trying to get us out of what we were trying to do there late. But our guys persevered and made some free throws at the end and did a good job.”
The Badgers faced 4A powerhouse and local rival Lonoke in last night’s championship game.
“Lonoke’s very good,” Martin said. “They’re not defending state champs for no reason. Coach (Wes) Swift does a good job.
They’re going to be a really tough challenge for us. We’re looking forward to it. For the first time in a long time, our guys get to know what if feels like to be in a championship game. Lonoke’s going to be a tough team for us to try and beat, but we’re looking forward to it.”
Added pressure on Kersey by Riverview prevented him from having good looks in the second and fourth quarters, but what he wasn’t able to produce on the floor, he got from the foul line. Kersey added four points in the second quarter from the stripe, and four more down the stretch for an 8-of-10 performance.
He was not the exception for Beebe at the line. In all, the Badgers went 24 of 31 from the stripe for the night, and 15 of 18 in the fourth quarter when Riverview began to foul in order to stop the clock.
The Raiders made their biggest run at the beginning of the third quarter. Jordan Perry started the second half off with a three pointer that made it 31-24 Beebe, and Taylor Smith then made it a 5-point game with a steal and coast-to-coast lay-up.
Kersey had a hot hand in the first five minutes of the game, putting up seven quick points, including one three pointer. That hot hand returned for the final three minutes of the third quarter, as Kersey put away two more from behind the arc. His final trey of the night was a set play on an inbound just as time expired to put the Badgers up 43-31 heading into the final period.
Riverview super sub D.J. Teague did his best to lead the charge for the Raiders, scoring eight of his team-high 14 points in the fourth quarter. Beebe held the remaining Raiders to single digits. Cameron Angerman and Smith each finished with nine.
Teague also led in rebounding for Riverview with 12 boards for a double-double. He also had three blocked shots.
Regardless of Tuesday night’s outcome against the fast and furious Jackrabbits, the Badgers appear to be for real this year.
Martin said the improvements began to show the week before Christmas in a close loss to 7A Cabot.
“Over the past three games, starting with the Cabot game, we’ve improved,” Martin said. “We’ve still got a lot of work to do, particularly in the press offense, but we’re improving which is exactly what I wanted to see at this time of year, right before conference.”
Kersey also led the team in rebounding with seven. Point guard Will Scott added 12 points, five rebounds and two steals, with 11 points, five rebounds and two blocked shots by Donte Myles.
For Riverview, Smith had seven rebounds and three blocked shots to go along with his nine points.
The Badgers narrowly won the rebounding battle 31-29, while the Raiders came out ahead in turnovers, with only nine compared to 13 for Beebe.
RIVERVIEW 68, WHITE HALL 39
Tyler Colvin led the Raiders with 15 points and three steals in their opening-round win over White Hall on Saturday.
Teague came off the bench for 14 points and seven rebounds as Riverview scorched the nets for 28-of-50 shooting, including 7 of 18 from deep.
The Raiders broke open a close game with a 15-0 run early in the second period to shake a pesky Bulldog team that led 15-13. Riverview opened up a 39-19 halftime lead.
Taylor Smith scored 11 points and grabbed eight rebounds, while Cameron Angerman added 10 points and three steals.
Jordan Perry scored his nine points on three three-pointers. He also dished out four assists.