Lady Falcons state-bound after beating Ricebirds

North Pulaski boys turn in exciting win over Stuttgart

BY RAY BENTON
Leader sports editor

___The North Pulaski Falcons won both games of a Friday night double-header at North Pulaski against the Stuttgart Ricebirds.
___ In boys action, the Falcons rallied late, turning a somewhat close game into a blowout going away 66-49. In the girls matchup, the Lady Falcons beat the Lady Ricebirds 68-59.
___ Lincola Sanders pulled down 10 rebounds for NP, as LaKeyshia Ridgeway led the Falcons in scoring with 16 points. Marie Livings also had a great night for North Pulaski, scoring 14 points of her own.
___ The game was a fairly close one up until the 4th quarter, when the Falcons went on a scoring run to start the quarter. Stuttgart had an opportunity to get back in the game late, as top rebounder Sanders, Porcha Hayes, and starter Trista Cox all fouled out of the game midway through the final period.
___ The Lady Ricebirds did not execute, looking sluggish and tired despite several substitutions throughout the game. Despite their taller lineup, the Ricebirds could not contain junior Ridgeway, as she created turnovers that converted into points late, and went 6 for 12 from the free throw line on the night. In the boys game, it was the Steven Moore show on the free-throw line, racking up 27 points on the night including a pair of three pointers.
___ "We got into foul trouble early and had to go to a zone defense," North Pulaski head coach Victor Joyner said afterward. "We haven't used a zone defense all year, so that hurt us. We went back to man to man in the fourth and turned up the tempo, so we could beat them down late. Coach Joyner was also quick to point out the great performance from Moore on the night.
___ "We just kept the ball in Steven's hands at the end. He went 15 for 16 at the line, so if they were going to foul somebody, they were going to have to foul him."
___ The Falcons started the game off with a 7-0 run early. Stuttgart clawed their way back from the early deposit to make the game 19-15 at the end of the first quarter. The second quarter got off to a slow start, with no points put on the board from either team for almost the first two minutes of the quarter.
___ By halftime, Stutt-gart had pulled even closer, making the score 27-26 North Pulaski. The Falcons started the 2nd half with a barrage of 3 pointers. Moore and Rodric Rainey caught all net on back to back threes to give NP back the advantage. The Ricebirds would make another run in the 4th, pulling to within 2 points of North Pulaski, but foul trouble would let the game slip out of their hands.
___ Moore's repeated trips to the line late chalked up much of the Falcons points in the 4th quarter. NP's return to man to man defense also seemed to frustrate Stuttgart. The Ricebirds dominated under the boards all night, but gave up several second and third shots late to help the Falcons pull away. Though it was Moore who put on a great show all night, with 40 seconds remaining it was Al Smith who gave the fans the most exciting single moment of the night.
___ On a fast break, senior Scotty Hardfield bounced the ball off the glass, Smith followed behind him with a thunderous dunk that caused the stands to explode with cheers. Smith's slam capped off the night for the Falcons, with a final score of 66-49. Smith and Hardfield both had 10 points on the night for North Pulaski. The Falcons closed the regular season last night against White Hall. A Lady Falcon win in that game could give them the No. 3 seed in the tournament if Stuttgart suffers an upset loss to Mills University Studies. The North Pulaski boys would lock up the two seed with a win Tuesday.

Fourth quarter kids

Bears post 29-7 rally to beat J-town

BY RAY BENTON
Leader sports editor

___Sylvan Hills senior James Jackson went baseline around his man for a big dunk, and it was all Bears from there as Sylvan Hills pummeled Jonesboro 29-7 in the fourth quarter to beat the Hurricane 73-65 to keep its playoff hopes alive.
___ Jonesboro led 58-44 at the end of the third quarter and held a 60-48 advantage when Jackson's baseline jam ignited the Bears. "They switched on me and put a five guarding me," Jackson said. "I knew I was faster than him and I knew I could take the baseline on him and I knew I was going to dunk it."
___ The Bears then got two consecutive turnovers before Jonesboro could cross halfcourt and converted them into three points. That cut the lead to 60-53 before Jonesboro called timeout with 4:50 left in the game.
___ The timeout did little to thwart the Bears' momentum. Sylvan Hills scored the next nine points after the break to take a 62-60 lead and forced another Jonesboro timeout with 3:29 left in the game.
___ Jonesboro's Ryan Williams broke the Bears' 18-2 run with a short jumper to tie the game at 62-62, but Sylvan Hills' junior Michael Gross scored the Bears' next five points, including a clutch three pointer that gave his team a 67-63 lead. After a Jonesboro miss, senior point guard Kaming Kareem hit a double-pump layup in traffic for a 69-63 advantage with 1:32 left in the game.
___ Williams cut it to 69-65 with 1:02 left in the game, but it was the last points Jonesboro would score. Kareem scored with 24 seconds left, and added two free throws with seven-tenths of a second showing on he clock to set the final margin.
___ All five Sylvan Hills starters scored in double figures, plus reserve Darren Caradine, who posted 10 points. Caradine was not on the floor for the big fourth-quarter run, but his eight first-half points were huge for the Bears, who were struggling to keep the game close. Gross led the Bears with 15 while Jackson added 14. Kevin Hubbard and Hezekiah Smith scored 11 each while Kareem added 10. Caradine and Gross scored eight apiece in the first half while Jackson added six.
___ Kareem, Smith and Hubbard scored all of their points in the second half of the game. The Jonesboro ladies drilled the Lady Bears in the first game of the night 75-43. The Lady Hurricane dominated every facet of the game, but none as much as the boards, where Jonesboro finished with 37 rebounds to just 15 for Sylvan Hills. Sylvan Hills Crystal Maxwell led all scorers with 16 points, while Kierra Johnson added 10 for the Lady Bears. Tayla Haskins led Jonesboro with 15 points and Rachel Allison scored 10. Jordan Coleman had eight points, nine rebounds, four steals and four assists for Jonesboro. Sylvan Hills hosted Forrest City last night after Leader deadlines.
___ The Bears were locked in a four-way tie for second place heading into the game. Sylvan Hills, Forrest City, Jonesboro and Searcy all had 8-5 records as of Friday night, but it's the Bears who will be left out of the playoff picture with a loss Tuesday.
___ Sylvan Hills is on the short end of the tiebreaker with Jonesboro and Searcy, and must beat Forrest City to make it to the state tournament next week at Camden-Fairview.

 

Falcons open with victory

NP baseball team edges past Badgers

__North Pulaski opened its baseball season with a win Monday, beating the Beebe Badgers on the road 8-5. The Fal-cons held an 8-2 advantage heading into the final inning before Beebe made it very interesting with a late rally.
__ Beebe catcher Trey Watson was hit by a pitch to lead off the bottom of the seventh inning.
__ Todd Watson reached on the first of two errors at first base in the half inning. Justin Meyers singled and scored Trey Watson before Eric Holland flew out to right field.
__ Adam Hodges grounded out to leave the Badgers with one out to work with. Sean Robertson then doubled to right-centerfield to score Todd Watson and Meyers, and Jared Mathis reached on the second error at first.
__ North Pulaski was finally able to thwart the comeback attempt on a great play by centerfielder Walt Winer. Beebe's Kaleb Crowell hit a deep fly ball to straightaway center, but Winer got a great leap on the contact, ran the ball down and made the catch to end the game.
__ "He had to get on his horse to chase that one down and it was a great play," NP assistant coach Travis Lyda said. "It was starting to get a little hairy, but we made a play when we needed to and got the win."
__ The Falcons scored the first four runs of the game, but only three of them should have counted. In the top of the second inning, Walt Winer's run was counted by the home plate umpire, even though Winer ran squarely into the back of the Beebe third baseman, who was looking straight up and waiting on a pop-up by Mitchell Regnas to come down in foul territory. Winer ran into the fielder in foul territory and the ball landed next to him.
__ Not only was it runner interference, it wasn't a fair ball, but the run was counted, much to the chagrin of Beebe coach Andy O'Mara. The inning ended on the same play when Shawon Hand was caught in a rundown after the ball was picked up. O'Mara vehemently argued the call for several minutes after the inning ended.
__ The correct call would not have changed the outcome of the game, since only one run was scored and the Falcons won by three. The first run of the inning came on an RBI single by Josh Mansfield, which scored Andre Peters, who had reached on a fielder's choice. Winer was hit by a pitch and Jeremy Mogish walked to load the bases before Regnas pop-up that caused the controversy.
__ The Falcons other big inning was the sixth. Mansfield led off by walking. Winer singled and Mogish moved the runners with a bunt single to load the bases.
__ Regnas walked to drive in Mansfield and Brandon Clements singled to drive in Winer and Mogish. Scott Bolin added the Falcons final run in the seventh inning. Two batters after Bolin walked, Winer singled him in to give the Falcons an 8-2 lead. Winer, Mogish and Regnas were all 2 for 3 in the game.