SPORTS >> Sylvan Hills girls show no signs of rust, power to victory behind press
By JASON KING
The start of the 5A-Southeast Conference season amounted to a light workout for the Sylvan Hills Lady Bears in a 50-21 victory over Little Rock McClellan on Tuesday.
Visiting McClellan struggled offensively and defensively, and the Lady Bears (7-4, 1-0) capitalized from the outset with a stifling full-court press that led to a number of transition scores in the first half.
It was the first game for Sylvan Hills in nearly a month, but the Lady Bears showed little rust from the tip-off until the end of the third quarter, when they slowed their offensive attack to spare the Lady Lions from the sportsmanship/timing rule until late in the fourth quarter.
Lady Bears forward Ashley Johnson outscored the Lady Lions in the first quarter with six points, and matched them in the next period with seven to account for all of her game-high 13 points.
That helped Sylvan Hills build a 33-12 lead at halftime and make the second half mostly a formality.
“We talked about coming out in the first quarter and establishing the tempo,” Lady Bears coach Bee Rodden said. “We wanted to create some turnovers and get some shots in transition.”
Senior Dee Dee Lewis also scored six points in the opening quarter, but most of hers came from the free-throw line. Lewis went 4 of 4 at the line and added a basket late in the first period as the Lady Bears jumped out 16-5 atthe end of the first quarter.
“We knew they were going to come out in a 2-3 zone,” Rodden said. “They did, and we tried to get as many transition shots as we could and pull down some quick defensive rebounds. We wanted to score before they spread out in the big old zone.”
McClellan did not get many looks at the basket in the first eight minutes. That was because of Sylvan Hills’ full-court pressure.
The Lady Bears used their quickness to trap, which led to turnovers and rushed shots from the Lady Lions who have lost players to ineligibility.
“It was a good way to come back from the break,” Rodden said. “Our last game was Dec. 11, so they came out and made a big impact. We’ve gone from having 11 kids to nine, but the main five out there on the court are experienced players. They all got to play a lot last year.”
Johnson and Lewis slowed their shooting attacks in the second half, but senior transfer Lindsay Smith took over to score most of her nine points.
While the offensive pace slowed in the second half, Sylvan Hills continued to stifle McClellan defensively.
The Lady Bears held the Lady Lions to five points in the third quarter while putting up 12 of their own, extending their lead to 45-17 with eight minutes still to play. They finally triggered the mercy-rule status with a substitute-heavy squad in the final three minutes.
Terica Kendrick finished with seven points for the Lady Bears while Kashina Wright and Ashley Evans each had four.
While overall depth could be an issue for Rodden this season, she said having a dependable addition in Smith should go a long way.
“All of our starters played last year except for Lindsay Smith,” Rodden said. “But she had a really good camp during the summer, and we’re expecting good things.”
The Lady Bears played at Monticello on Friday night and will host White Hall next Friday.