Thursday, January 27, 2011
MLK Jr. Classic
By CLAUDE VINSON
H.W. Byers Lions and Lady Lions played host to a four-school classic January 17 in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. The others were Earle (Ark.), MHEA (Memphis Home Education Association) and Ashland.
The Byers Lady Lions faced the Lady Eagles of MHEA in their game and it would be easy to underestimate a team of their ilk. They did not show a lot of speed but they did not appear timid. Their playmaking was methodical and effective. They held a one-point lead over the hosts at the end of one period at 8-7.
They were not making many floor changes and they were holding their own in rebounding and ball control. They were not too far back at intermission after Sara Lytle hit one at the buzzer to make it 22-19.
The third was a low scoring period for both squads. The Lady Lions did manage to take a one-point lead at 27-26.
The Lady Lions were finding it difficult to close the Lady Eagles out in the final quarter. They could not build a sizeable lead. It was less than a minute left and Byers had a five-point lead when Bailey Wilkes slipped past a trio of Lady Lions and hit a lay-up. Bethany Lytle followed her and brought MHEA to within one with a jumper from the top of the key. But time also became the Lady Eagles’ opponent and they had to resort to fouling. Richenda Crutcher and Kyra Gulledge took it from there. Each made a pair of freebies to seal the victory for Byers at 41-36.
Kourtney Coleman led the hosts with 15, followed by Alexis Hardaway with 13 and K. Gulledge with 11.
Lions fall short
The Lions tried but could not quite measure up to the Eagles of MHEA. The Eagles fairly owned the opening quarter. They maintained a small margin of difference throughout, never relinquishing the lead. The Lions were trying to stay within striking distance, but it wasn’t easy to penetrate the tight Eagle zone defense. MHEA was up 16-12 for the first period.
Both squads saw a pretty stable second frame. MHEA turned 15 points and Byers had 16 for a 31-28 tally at intermission.
In the third period, the Lions blew some choice opportunities which could have resulted in favorable changes in the game. Instead the Eagles forged ahead with a 47-41 third quarter advantage.
The Lions kept their fast pace during the entire game but they could not find an answer to Heath Broussard. He took MHEA on his shoulders and led the Eagles to the 70-63 victory.
Byers had a pair of shooters in double figures – Chris Echols and Mitchell with 10 each.
Lady Devils fall
The Ashland Lady Blue Devils were matched with the 3A Lady Bulldogs of Earle (Ark.) High School. Both teams were feeling each other out for the first period but the Lady ’Dogs came out on top at 10-6.
The Lady Devils took the lead in the second quarter on a trey by Alontra Tucker. That put Ashland up by one at 11-10. Felisha Gibbs swung it back to Earle on a deuce, but Raquette Allen popped another three ball for Ashland. Then Gibbs went on a scoring tear and moved Earle out to 18-14. She kept the heat on and struck for three deuces in a row to give the Lady ’Dogs a 25-14 halftime difference.
The Lady Devils were being beaten badly on rebounds and fast breaks. Additionally, they were giving up too many balls on turnovers. Earle was capitalizing, using the mistakes to put up a twenty point lead at 41-21 to end the third.
Ashland had its best effort in the fourth, adding 13 points but the hole was too deep. Earle claimed the first victory in the classic at 50-34.
Lareka Glover led Ashland with eight points.
Blue Devils lose
At first glance, it might appear that that these two squads were evenly matched, but these Earle Bulldogs could run the tables. They were claiming most of the offensive rebounds and a large portion of those at the defensive end. They led at the end of the quarter at 13-6 and parlayed that into a 29-16 margin at intermission.
It wasn’t that the Blue Devils weren’t hustling because they were. The Bulldogs were playing a rough style of basketball. They got accurate help from long range.
Ashland was running a double-digit deficit for most of the third period. Then the Devils began to figure out the Earle rough and tumble offense. Twice they cut the difference to seven. Ted Nunnally was providing Ashland with the offensive push it needed. But as quickly Nunnally would open the door, the Bulldogs would slam it shut. However they were at a reasonable distance at 41-36 at the finish of the third period.
Earle kept slamming the door and sealed it permanently by adding 28 points in the final quarter for a 69-41 victory.
Jeremy Williams led Ashland with 14 and Nunnally was two behind at 12.
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