Leader Blues

Friday, February 06, 2009

SPORTS>>Lady Owls fall in rugged contest

By KELLY FENTON
Leader sports editor

It may have been a contest between two Christian schools, but no one was willing to turn the other cheek on Thursday night at Abundant Life gym.

In a game in which more bodies than shots fell, Conway Christian barely outmuscled Abundant Life to hold on for a 52-45 victory in the final 2-5A North regular season game. A total of 47 fouls were called and another 20 might have been. The teams combined to shoot 58 free throws.

“That was just a battle,” said Abundant Life coach Justin Moseley. “We showed a lot of heart hanging in there after we got in foul trouble. It’s hard to explain just how physical that was.”

In a sign of what was to come, a Conway Christian Lady Eagle was stitched up in the early going after busting open her chin on a tangle on the floor. The Lady Eagles employed a box-and-one on Lady Owl leading scorer Hannah Pastor, and to good effect. Pastor finished with 11 points, but spent most of the second and third quarters on the bench in foul trouble.

The loss pretty much guaranteed the Lady Owls a four seed at the district tournament at Conway St. Joe’s in two weeks as they finished 7-5 in league play and dropped to 22-11 overall.

Abundant Life was able to make only one field goal in the first half, but 15-of-16 free-throw shooting kept them within shouting distance at 27-17. The Lady Owls got few good looks in the half with Pastor being bottled up or on the bench, and launched a series of off-balance shots in traffic.

“We had a lot of frustrations,” Moseley said. “Maybe we didn’t get some calls we wanted to get or some scores we wanted to get, and then we were fouling out of frustration.”

Despite a 1-of-15 shooting performance in the first half, the Owls began to get back in it in the third period, when they made seven of their 11 field goals on the night. Making 7 of 10 shots in the quarter, the Lady Owls drew as close as they would get when Brittney Sharp’s lay-up with 45 seconds left whittled the lead to 38-34.

But Christian Demhertog, a thorn in Abundant Life’s side all night, hit her third three of the night to extend the lead to seven to start the final period. Conway Christian hit 9 of 12 free throws down the stretch to hold on and finish league play at 10-2.

It was the fourth game since Friday for the Lady Owls, and Moseley said his team suffered the effects of the schedule.

“They were tired even yesterday and I made it as light a practice as I could,” he said. “We really didn’t have much of a chance to prepare for (Conway Christian) because we played Friday, Monday and Tuesday. We worked on some things but we didn’t execute the things we worked on for the box-and-one.

“We did all the things we had to do to get back in it in the second half, but we had too big a hole and they hit their free throws.”

Carmyn Sharp led Abundant Life with 13 points and eight rebounds while Sydney Venus added 12 points. Sharp scored nine points and pulled down eight rebounds. The Lady Owls finished 11 of 38 from the field but missed all seven of their three-point attempts. They were 23 of 33 at the line.

The Lady Eagles made eight three-pointers and knocked down 12 of 25 free throws.

AL BOYS 80,
CONWAY CHRISTIAN 42

It was stat padders night for the Abundant Life boys, or would have been had Owl head coach Tim Ballard not substituted so freely and so often. Thirteen Owls scored in a game in which they scored 31 points in the first quarter.

Dane Lottner, Garrett South-erland and Dustin Keathley tied for high score honors with 12.

The Owls snagged 20 steals in the high-octane affair, while turning it over only six times themselves.

Often, they didn’t hold on to the ball long enough to turn it over, getting easy baskets inside or launching quick threes. Abundant Life shot over 50 percent (30 of 58) despite making only 7 of 26 three-pointers.

Christian used some on-target long-range shooting of its own to stay close early, making four threes in the first quarter. But after falling behind 16-13 Abundant Life launched a furious 23-3 run, aided by seven straight points by George Herring to put it out of reach. The Owls led 53-28 at the half.

Herring and Mike Stramiello added nine points each, while Cameron Slayton had eight. Terrell Ghant scored four points and dished out four assists.

The Owls finished the 5-2A North regular season unblemised at 12-0, 25-7 overall. They’ll take on Kirby on Friday and will open district play in the semifinals at St. Joe’s on Feb. 20.