Wednesday, January 03, 2007

SPORTS>> Jackrabbits fall to CAC for Badger tourney title

Leader sportswriter

The Lonoke teams fared well in the First Security Bank/White County Medical Center Christmas Classic over the weekend. The Lady Jackrabbits fell to Beebe in the semifinals of the tourney, but took third place on Saturday with a win over a flat River-view team. The boys made it all the way to the tournament finals, losing in a 49-45 heartbreaker to CAC.

The Jackrabbits opened the tournament with a first round win over Drew Central, setting up a semifinals rematch against host team Beebe. The second meeting went much like the first one, with the ‘Rabbits pulling away after the first quarter to dominate the rest of the contest. Senior Kylon Boyd led all scorers with 16 points in the game to propel the Jackrabbits to a 63-38 win over the Badgers, setting up a championship showdown with former conference mates CAC in the finals on Saturday.

The two teams picked up on the old rivalry rather quickly. The Mustangs took a big lead early, shutting down Lonoke’s offense to rush out to an 18-8 advantage at the end of the first quarter. It was Lonoke that would have the advantage in the second frame, holding CAC to only seven points while racking up 17 of its own to only trail at halftime 27-25. The Mustangs had trouble with the ‘Rabbits’ defensive adjustments the second quarter. They only got six looks at the basket in the entire period, and only got two of them to fall late.

Lonoke finally worked itself into the lead at the 3:06 mark of the third quarter. Post player Jordan Lambert had tied the game at 33-33 moments earlier with an inside basket at the 5:04 mark, but a three from Boyd put the ‘Rabbits up by three, followed by a basket and foul by Sammy Coleman. Coleman did not convert the free throw, but his goal helped Lonoke go up by five. The Jackrabbits still held the lead with less than four minutes left in the game, but a three pointer from Mustangs guard Paul Holderfield cut the advantage to one at 41-40. A pair of free throws by Joe Adams at the 3:13 mark gave CAC its first lead of the fourth quarter at 42-41.

Bradley Spencer put the Jackrabbits back in front in the final minute with a pair of free throws, but David Williams answered from the charity stripe for CAC. Williams’ foul shots put the Mustangs back in front 46-45,and a pair of Holderfield free throws in the last eight seconds of the game would set the final margin. Boyd led scoring for Lonoke in the finals with 19 points, including three shots from three-point land. Stanley Staggers only finished with one basket on the night, but his perfect 10 for 10 performance from the free throw line put him with 12 points at the end of the night. NO 23 rounded out double digit scorers for Lonoke with 10.

After a less than stellar performance against Beebe in the semifinals, the Lady Jackrabbits closed the tournament out strong with a 48-16 mercy-ruled win over Riverview in the third-place game on Saturday. The Lady Raiders led early on, but Lonoke soon turned up the heat. Calisha Kirk tied the game 9-9 in the final seconds of the opening frame on the put back of a Jenny Evans miss. Though Kirk and Evans have been the big scorers for the Lady ‘Rabbits throughout most of the early season, on this night, it would be the third Lonoke senior who would take those honors.

Senior guard Kristy Shinn came out of the scoring shadows with 18 points in the game. Shinn, normally regarded as a defensive player, found the basket from all directions, including a pair of three pointers. Kirk and Evans still turned in their typical performances, with Evans scoring 12 and Kirk finishing with nine points. The Lady Raiders struggled from the floor and then some in the contest, only coming away with four combined points through the second and third quarters. Riverview shooting ace Kori Meachum was a non-factor through the entire event, with a three-point basket at the 5:03 mark of the opening quarter as her only points in the game.

“We definitely played a lot better than we played last night,” said Lady ‘Rabbits coach Nathan Morris, referring to the semifinals loss to Beebe. “We played with a lot more intensity, and that was a good ball team. I don’t think we came out last night and matched Beebe’s intensity. We came out and tried some different things defensively, and I think that helped get them off-balance a little bit.”

The Jackrabbits and Lady Jackrabbits will pick back up on conference play this week with games