Leader Blues

Friday, December 18, 2009

SPORTS >> Abundant Life takes some lumps in split

Abundant Life point guard Mike Stramiello works the lane in a recent game.

Leader sportswriter

The Abundant Life teams split with England in a pair of non-conference games on Tuesday night at Abundant Life Schools.

The Owls had three players in double figures and beat the Lions 58-43, but a 30-point performance by Lady Owls junior post player Carmyn Sharp was not enough as the quicker Lady Lions won 63-50.

Owls coach Tim Ballard used a 10-man, two-squad rotation in the first half and eventually used all 16 players on his roster. Abundant Life jumped to an early lead and never looked back against an England team that has struggled with a number of injuries.

“We have two non-conference games this week, and I wanted to use those to work on some things,” Ballard said. “Their coach told me he didn’t feel like his team was as strong as it usually was, so we used a lot of subs in both halves.”

George Herring led the Owls with 16 points, while post Garrett Southerland scored 12 and Mike Stramiello had 11 as Abundant Life improved to 15-3. The Owls played at Atkins on Friday and will take part in the Christmas Classic basketball tournament at Memphis Overton High School on Dec. 28-30.

The Lady Owls rallied to within three scores midway through the fourth quarter Tuesday, but England twins Janeka and Jameka Watkins scored a respective 21 and 18 points to lead their team to victory.

The game provided a gut check for Lady Owls junior forward Sydney Venus, who collided with an England player midway through the second quarter and suffered a loose tooth and a bloody lip. Venus sat out the remainder of the half but returned in the second half to score 13 of her 14 points.

Venus’ gutsy performance reminded Lady Owls coach Justin Moseley of Venus’ older sister Andrea, who started at guard for Abundant Life for three years and graduated last spring.

“I know coach Ballard was working with her over there at one point,” Moseley said. “He told her, ‘You know, your sister would already be back in there.’ So I think that gave her some motivation. She came back in the second half and played real well; I’m proud of her.”

England took a 30-18 lead at the half and led 43-33 at the end of the third quarter.

“They have three guards who are super quick,” Moseley said. “Really their whole team has good athletes. We had to be real careful with our passes because of their quickness.”

The loss dropped the Lady Owls to 9-7.

With a one-point loss to Guy-Perkins last week and a respectable showing against a dominant 3A England team, Moseley said the Lady Owls have shown steady improvement.

“It’s nice to have won nine games already — there were a lot of years where I wasn’t able to do that,” Moseley said. “But the competitor in me looks at three or four of those games and says we should have won them. But I’ve learned over the years that every win is precious.

“The girls are starting to know their roles. We don’t have great shooting; we need that to open up a little.”

The Lady Owls were also at Atkins on Friday night, and will take part in the Bauxite High School holiday tournament Dec. 28-30.