Tuesday, November 25, 2008

SPORTS>>Lady ’Rabbits fall in finals

Leader sportswriter

An impressive run ended on a down note for the Lonoke Lady Jackrabbits over the weekend. The Lady ’Rabs’ made it to the finals of the RAPA Roundball Rally at Little Rock Hall last week, only to fall 66-33 to a dominant North Little Rock team during Saturday’s championship game.

The Lady Wildcats had firepower everywhere. Strong defense limited Lonoke’s shots, while a quick, precise transition game led to a number of fast-break points.

That alone was more than enough for the Lady ’Cats, but they also threw in an 8-of-9 performance from behind the three-point line in the second half on the combined efforts of four different shooters to set the continuous clock in motion for the final two minutes of the contest.

“We tried to defend those shots,” said Lady ’Rabbits coach Nathan Morris. “But I have to give credit to them. I mean, one of those girls was almost out of bounds when she made her three. I chalk it up to an off night against a really good team that was hot. I don’t think there’s anyone in the state that can defend them when they’re playing that well.”

Lonoke came in to the final game confident after a 57-50 win over 6A powerhouse Little Rock Parkview in Thursday’s semifinal round.

The Lady Jackrabbits played over their 4A classification level for the entire tournament, downing host team Hall in the first round on Monday in a 65-22 blowout. They did it with a balanced attack as well. Sophomore Cara Neighbors led the way with 15 points against Hall, while junior post Asiah Scribner added 13 points and 10 rebounds for a double-double performance. Junior guard Ashleigh Himstedt also finished in double digits with 11 points. She also added two steals. Point guard Michaela Brown had eight points, along with five steals and five assists.

Scribner turned in a similar performance during Thursday’s semifinals. She had 17 points and 11 rebounds to lead the way for Lonoke.

“They held their own,” Morris said. “But at the same time, we already knew they could do thatgoing in. We expect to go in and compete against higher classification teams. We don’t go into these tournaments just hoping to keep up, we expect to win.

“Most of our non-conference games are against teams that are in higher classifications. We’re going to get another shot against (NLR) at Fayetteville in our tournament after Thanksgiving. They’re our first-round game.”

The first minute of the second half went well for the Lady ’Rabbits against North Little Rock. Scribner made a pair of free throws after being fouled under the basket at the 15:26 mark. Himstedt then hit a banker on the left side of the lane with 14:46 left that cut the score to 28-22.

The rest was all North Little Rock. Tourney MVP Jerica James hit a layup, followed by another transition basket by Helen Olson at the 13:03 mark. Both then hit three pointers to complete a 9-0 run.

Olson came away with two more three pointers before the end, while James found the arc one more time for three more of her game-leading 17 points. Kayla Brown and Robnecia Taylor also hit threes during the final 16 minutes.

Scribner led the Lady Jackrabbits with 11 points, with six more from Himstedt.