By JASON KING
It took Lonoke most of the second half to catch up and undo the early damage caused by dynamic Clinton sophomore guard John Price in Lonoke’s 65-63 home victory Wednesday.
Price, a speedy 5-10 clutch shooter and ball-handling wizard for the Yellowjackets, scored 13 of his 23 points in the first quarter as Clinton built a 30-17 lead in the first half.
But Lonoke’s improved defense held the standout underclassman to six points in the second half, and the Jackrabbits eventually overtook their guests for the victory.
The Jackrabbits (11-9, 7-6 2-4A Conference) tied the game for the first time with 1:31 left in the third quarter on a pair of free throws by junior Darius Scott, and claimed their first lead when Tarrale Watson scored on a putback with 55 seconds left in the period to make it 44-42.
“I guess with the break, and not being on a true schedule, it kind of got us screwed up,” Lonoke coach Dean Campbell said of bad weather that forced Wednesday’s makeup game. “It’s tough to not get up, get around and have the routine. We showed that the first two quarters.
In the third quarter, we came out with the energy that we talked about at the beginning, but we didn’t bring it in the first two quarters.”
The Jackrabbits will most likely finish fourth in the 2-4A but are still mathematically alive for third depending on the outcome of Friday’s regularly scheduled league finales.
The lead changed hands another six times once the Jackrabbits caught up late in the third quarter.
Lonoke finally began to take control for good thanks to a technical foul and personal foul on Clinton reserve Gerald Norton after a battle for a loose ball with 2:46 remaining. Storm Beeler made three of his four free throws to improve the Jackrabbits’ lead to 60-54.
“We had guys coming off the bench and contributing, which you need that,” Campbell said. “Those guys kind of kept us in it.
We got into the third quarter and got some turnovers, and got some easy baskets and got into a flow.”
Clinton, (7-14, 4-7) got off to a fast start with the help of Price, who made a pair of first-quarter three-pointers. He got the last word of the half for the Yellowjackets with a fading, buzzer-beating jumper from just inside the three-point line to make it 36-26 at halftime
But Price’s two free throws with 7:37 left in the third quarter were his final points until two more free throws with 5:49 left in the game. By that time Lonoke had already taken control of the tempo, and took over the lead for good shortly thereafter.
“It’s not like we didn’t talk about it at the beginning, and talk about him,” Campbell said of Price. “It allowed us to get the ball out of his hands and not allow him to dictate the tempo. We dictated the tempo by switching stuff up.”
Darius Scott led Lonoke with 13 points while T.J. Scott scored 11 and Watson scored 10. Damarcus Dodson had eight points to go with assists, steals and key rebounds.