SPORTS >> Bears turn to seniors, beat Billies
Senior night came a little early for the Sylvan Hills Bears on Friday.
All the talk of talented underclassmen on Kevin Davis’ team took a backseat to senior leadership against the Monticello Billies, and it paid off with a 61-49 victory at Sylvan Hills on Friday night.
The sophomore “triplets” of Trey Smith, Archie Goodwin and post player Devin Pearson eventually made their way onto the court in the first quarter, but the Bears started the game with an all-senior look that featured Bruce Mack, Kolby Davis, Matt Cable, two-sport star Ahmad Scott and Demetric Gross.
“I thought some seniors made senior plays down the stretch,” Kevin Davis said. “They were communicating with me and playing the game like seniors should be playing the ballgame, and my seniors did that tonight. And I thought that was what made the difference for us down the stretch tonight.”
The all-senior starting lineup wasn’t based on any particular strategy for Davis; it was just coincidental.
“Two of those seniors led using rebounding at McClellan, and I like to reward people for hard work,” Davis said. “And that was Cable and Davis. And so they were automatically in the starting lineup, that’s something we just do. We reward guys that work hard.”
Goodwin ended up in his normal role as leading scorer for the Bears, but it was Pearson’s nine points inside that the Billies found hardest to answer. Gross also had a solid outing with 13 points, while Ziegler managed seven points in his limited role and point guard Mack scored six points for the Bears.
Sylvan Hills (11-8, 2-6 5A Southeast) led the entire way, but never by more than 12 points. The Bears enjoyed their largest margin when Mack drove inside for a jumper to make it 38-26 with 1:08 left in the first quarter.
That followed an eight-point flurry by Goodwin, who made up for failing to convert an old-fashioned three-point play with 7:06 left in the period with back-to-back three-pointers to increase the Bears’ lead from 24-20 to 32-22 with 4:05 to go.
Gross scored on a putback and Goodwin hit a pair of free throws leading up to Mack’s driving shot, but the Billies began to fight back after that.
Monticello closed the gap with a three-point basket and an inside shot by post player Reshaud Jones to cut the lead to 38-31.
Smith made a free throw just before the end of the third quarter to give the Bears a 39-31 lead starting the fourth.
The Billies tried to get themselves back in the game by pressing in the final three minutes, but Pearson broke through the press for a basket with 2:21 remaining to give the Bears a 50-43 lead, and Monticello resorted to clock-stopping fouls.
“They have a smaller lineup, so that should happen,” Davis said. “He’s a big 6-5 kid in there, and Devin has come on. He’s gotten better and better. He’s always minding the game, trying to get better.”
Scott finished with only four points, but his efforts on defense held Monticello sharp shooter Jones to a 10-point night. Jones scored 23 against the Bears in their first meeting, but Scott’s efforts limited him to one of his lowest nights of point production all season.
“It’s a good, balanced conference,” Davis said. “These guys had to stay positive, and kind of persevere. I told them they had some home games coming, that they needed to keep their heads up and keep at them.”