Leader Blues

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

SPORTS >> NLR rallies by Abundant Life

Mike Stramiello tries a reverse layup against North Little Rock on Monday.

Leader sportswriter

David did not slay Goliath on Monday night, but he sure gave him all he wanted.

Abundant Life, from the 5-2A North Conference, led 7A Central powerhouse North Little Rock from the second quarter, when there was 4:35 left, until there was 4:48 left in the third. But a 14-point third quarter by Charging Wildcats forward Reggie Bryles changed the momentum as North Little Rock won 62-53 in the first round of the Searcy Bank Classic at Searcy High School.

The Owls (10-3) fell behind early but rallied in the second quarter. Senior post Garrett Southerland tied it 18-18 when he made a three-pointer with 5 minutes left in the half, and Abundant Life went on to a 31-23 lead at halftime.

But the Wildcats outscored their smaller foes 29-14 in the third quarter, and got big breaks in the final two minutes when the Owls got good outside looks but their shots fell short after it had become a two-possession game.

“We had some roll out on us,” Owls coach Tim Ballard said. “And they hit everything in the third quarter. They had a huge third quarter; we kind of adjusted to their three-point shooting a little late.”

Bryles, who had just three points in the first half, began his heroics with 7:41 left in the third quarter when he hit the first of the four three-pointers he made in the period. He then followed a Southerland jumper that made it 32-26 Owls with another three-pointer that closed the gap to four.

Senior guard Cameron Slayton answered with a three-pointer for Abundant Life, and Southerland scored on an inbounds play, with an assist by Mike Stramiello, following another North Little Rock three-pointer to keep the Owls in front 38-22 with 5:56 left in the quarter.

“We didn’t know them well enough to know he could go on a streak like he did,” Ballard said of Bryles’ third-quarter performance. “We know now if we have to play them again.”

North Little Rock went on a 6-0 run to tie the game at 38, and a floater in the lane by post player Mike Malvin gave the Wildcats their first lead of the second half with 3:59 to go in the third.

Bryles added two more three-pointers as the Wildcats began to pull away, taking a 52-45 lead into the final quarter.

But the Owls didn’t quit in the last 8 minutes. The Wildcats expanded their lead to nine, but free throws by George Herring and another three-pointer by Southerland cut it to 54-50 with 5:47 left, and a three-pointer by junior guard Ryan Johnson made it a one-point game with 5:08 to go.

North Little Rock threw the ball away on its next possession, which gave Abundant Life a chance to reclaim the lead. But a missed three-pointer and two missed free throws by the Owls led to an inside shot by Malvin for North Little Rock.

Bryles iced it with 1:55 left when he hit the last of his six three-pointers to finish with a game-high 20 points.

Southerland led the Owls with 17 points, with 11 for Stramiello. Herring finished with 9 while Johnson and Slayton each had 8.

For the Wildcats, Malvin had 15.

Benton 52, Beebe 30

The Badgers suffered their first setback of the season as Benton took a 52-30 victory in the first round of the Searcy Bank Classic on Monday night.

The Badgers (1-1) tried to compete for rebounds, but the larger Hornets had their way inside. That was especially true on the offensive end in the second half.

Sophomore forward Brandon Jones led the Badgers with 10 points. Junior guard Scot Gowen, who played football this fall, scored seven points and was 5 of 8 from the free-throw line.