SPORTS >> Sylvan Hills beats Beebe, stays in first
By JASON KING Leader sportswriter
What a difference a year makes.
The Beebe Lady Badgers and Sylvan Hills Lady Bears fought for the No. 1 seed in the 5A Southeast Conference last season, and Beebe took the top spot with an unbeaten league run.
This season, the Lady Bears are on top of the conference standings, and a deflated Beebe team did little to slow that momentum Tuesday as Sylvan Hills won 47-26 at Sylvan Hills.
Sylvan Hills (16-5, 9-1) took advantage of Beebe’s struggle to handle the ball and lack of team communication to grab 18 turnovers, which resulted in a number of transition opportunities.
“I was glad about that one; we needed one like that,” Lady Bears coach Bee Rodden said. “Maybe we’re getting back in some rhythm. We came in on Sunday afternoon and practiced. We just felt like we weren’t where we needed to be. We spent a lot of time on our defense.”
That extra work paid off with a 13-0 run in the second quarter that took the Lady Bears from a modest 15-8 lead with 5:48 left to a dominant, 28-8 advantage in the final minute of the first half.
Of Beebe’s 18 giveaways, 13 were a result of steals by Sylvan Hills. Terica Kendrick led in that department with three and was also the leading scorer for the Lady Bears with a season-high 18 points.
“Our shooting is getting better,” Rodden said. “T.K. shot the ball extremely well, I thought. She’s one of those kids that if she can get into a rhythm, she can light it up. She made her first three; she was too excited.”
Kendrick’s three-pointer with 1:59 left in the third quarter put Sylvan Hills dangerously close to triggering the mercy-rule and its fast-moving clock at 42-15, but Rodden began a heavy rotation of substitutes. All 11 players on the Lady Bears roster saw action before the end of the game.
“That was nice. The other night, we didn’t get to do that,” Rodden said. “It kind of keeps the underclassmen, those other kids motivated. This is the time of year that you want to be hitting your peak.”
With only one victory all year, it has been a trying season for the Lady Badgers after an unbeaten conference run and 5A state semifinals appearance last year.
With Beebe school officials looking on Tuesday, dispirited players bickered with each other on the way to the locker room at halftime and sources are speculating about coach Lora Jackson’s future in a season in which the roster has been cut in half by player departures.
Kendrick capped off the first quarter with a basket and free throw that gave the Lady Bears a 10-4 lead. Post player Ashley Johnson extended the lead in the second quarter with an inside basket assisted by Kendrick, followed by a free throw with 3:39 left that made it 22-8.
Senior Dee Dee Lewis tacked on two more free throws a minute later, and Kamisha Wright got a steal that she took all the way for a layup and the 26-8 lead with 1:59 left in the half.
A basket by Beebe’s Kelsie Walker with 4:41 left in the third quarter was the only interruption in another second-half Sylvan Hills scoring run.