SPORTS >> North Pulaski girls trip state semifinalist Beebe
By JASON KING
North Pulaski’s confidence grew right along with its lead in the fourth quarter of Tuesday’s game against the Beebe Lady Badgers.
The Lady Falcons held Beebe scoreless in the final 2:36 as North Pulaski claimed its first 5A-Southeast Conference victory of the season, 50-39, at the Falcons Nest.
North Pulaski (2-7, 1-1) led the entire game until Lady Badgers guard Alexis Miguel made a pull-up jumper to give Beebe (0-14) the 31-30 lead with 3:41 left in the third quarter. But pint-sized Lady Falcon Breanna Trent answered with two big outside shots for the three-point lead, and North Pulaski never trailed again.
“It felt good. The girls worked hard,” Lady Falcons coach Todd Romaine said. “And that’s why we get so frustrated. This is probably the first complete game that I’ve seen in a while from a North Pulaski girls basketball team. They ran every play they were asked to do; they stayed within their game and played smart.”
Foul trouble hurt Beebe’s inside game, as senior post player Danna Jackson was on the bench for much of the second half.
Jackson kept the Lady Badgers in it early with six points in the first quarter, but she picked up three fouls in the first half. She got her fourth to start the fourth quarter, which forced her to sit out until the final minutes.
The Lady Falcons went on a 7-2 run in that stretch to improve a 36-33 lead at the end of the third to 43-35 with 4:37 left in the fourth, when senior guard Laura Dortch scored off an assist following a defensive rebound by Bianca Harper.
“The balls were falling tonight,” Romaine said. “Friday night, we played over at Mills, and we couldn’t hit anything. Tonight, every shot we made seemed to go in. We had a lot of point production from several people, and that helped.”
Most of Denesha Shelton’s point production came in the first half for North Pulaski. Shelton scored all but two of her 13 points in the first two quarters, including a pair of three-pointers in the first quarter to help the Lady Falcons take an early lead.
She sank one more three-pointer in the second quarter as North Pulaski entered halftime with a 26-21 lead.
“Not having a point guard hurts us, but Laura Dortch has stepped up and done an excellent job there,” Romaine said. “Bianca, of course, any given night she’s an offensive threat. Denesha brings us a good perimeter threat when she’s shooting well. Everybody put what they had into the game tonight, and I’m proud of them.”
Harper led the way for the Lady Falcons with 14 points while Dortch finished with 12. Trent added nine points.
Harper fended off Beebe’s first second-half run with a pair of inside shots that extended a 26-25 lead to 30-25 with close to six minutes left.
Beebe followed with its best run of the game. Amanda Wheeler’s basket with 5:39 left cut it to three, and post player Kelsie Walker cut the Lady Falcons’ lead further with an inside shot to make it 30-29. Miguel followed with her shot in the lane to complete the 6-0 run and give Beebe its short-lived lead.
“One challenge we have is that they have to start believing in themselves that they can win,” Romaine said. “There are still going to be some challenges up and down, but this is the team that we have, and that’s how they can play if they’ll just get out and play.”
Wheeler led the Lady Badgers with 10 points. Jackson added nine and Shayln Young had eight.
North Pulaski played host to Crossett Friday and will play at Sylvan Hills on Tuesday. Beebe played host to Monticello Friday night.