SPORTS >> Bears sweep Beebe to gain No. 3 seed
Leader sports writer
The stats couldn’t have been any closer and neither could the final score.
In the end, Sylvan Hills had just enough to escape with a 35-34 win over Beebe on Friday at the SHHS gymnasium.
Beebe’s Zach Kersey drove for the potential winning basket as time expired, but the shot fell short and the Bears (13-13, 8-6) earned the No. 3 seed out of the 5A Southeast Conference. They will take on 5A East No. 2 seed Greene County Tech (22-6) tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. The Badgers ended up with the No. 4 seed, and had the task of taking on Class 5A’s top-ranked, East No. 1 seed Forrest City (19-8) last night after Leader deadlines.
“We expected it to end up that way. It should have been that way,” said Bears coach Kevin Davis. “I told (Beebe coach Brian Martin) that’s the way it should have been for both of us, because we’ve both had good seasons, and we’ve both battled.
“They’ve been so consistent, and our team has really grown up, so it was a good third-place battle there at the end. We could probably play seven of these, and they would all end up like this.”
The defensive struggle was never more apparent than in Kersey’s totals. A three-point basket at the 3:01 mark of the first quarter served as the standout guard’s only points in the game.
“Zach’s such a great player, but the thing is, when you’re that good, people know about you,” Davis said. “Harold Ward and Ahmad Scott are brothers, and I don’t know, maybe they talked about it last night at the dinner table or something, but we took turns using two pretty good athletes to defend him. We wanted to wear Zach down and make him have to run from those guys all night.”
The Badgers built the largest lead for either team at 30-26 to start the fourth quarter when Devonte Young drove for a basket at the 6:46 mark. Harold Ward quickly cut the lead to one with a three-point basket with 6:11 left to play. Freshman Archie Goodwin then made good in his second varsity appearance with a putback of a missed trey from Ward to give the Bears a 31-30 lead at the 5:12 mark.
Ward cashed in on a steal by Nick Zimmerman with 4:35 left to play with a lay-up that increased the Bears’ advantage to 33-30, and that was the last score for the next three-and-a-half minutes of the defensive struggle.
Will Scott finally broke the drought with 1:02 left to play to pull the Badgers to within one, but Zimmerman tacked on two free throws for Sylvan Hills to extend the lead to 35-32. Young cut it to one with 15 seconds left to play, and Beebe tried to take advantage of Goodwin’s inexperience by sending him to the line for a 1-and-1 with 12 seconds remaining.
That move paid off. Trey Smith pulled down the miss for Beebe, and got the ball to Kersey, who drove the lane for the potential game winner. His shot missed, and Ward pulled down the rebound, securing the win for the Bears.
The Badgers got their first lead of the game to start the second quarter when Smith hit two foul shots and Scott tacked on two more at the 6:38 mark to put Beebe up 11-10.
Senior forward Brett Defani extended the lead to three with a Kersey-assisted basket with 6:06 left in the half, but Zimmerman knotted it at 13-all with a three-point basket less than 10 seconds later.
Ross hit two free throws and Ahmad Scott added one more at the 1:05 mark to give the Bears an 18-15 lead, but Blake Hood cut it to one with an assist from Donte Myles to set the halftime score.
Ross led the Bears with nine points, seven rebounds and two steals. Ward chipped in seven points for Sylvan Hills. Anthony Forte led Beebe with 11 points. Smith finished with eight points.
Sylvan Hills made 13 of 37 field goals, compared to 13 of 34 for Beebe (16-9, 8-6), and outrebounded the Badgers 25-20. The Bears made 4 of 11 from behind the arc, while Beebe was only 1 of 7.