Tuesday, January 18, 2011

SPORTS >> Jackrabbits start quickly but fall short

Leader sportswriter

The first three minutes were all Lonoke — the remaining 29 were just not enough Lonoke.

Heber Springs overcame a 10-0 deficit to start the game and went on to win 52-47 at the Lonoke gymnasium on Friday to remain atop the 2-4A Conference standings.

The Jackrabbits (4-11, 1-5) got off to a good start when senior guard Darius Scott made a pair of early three pointers along with a three-point basket from junior forward Tarrale Watson before the Panthers got going late in the first quarter and into the second.

The Panthers (13-5, 5-1) closed the gap to 10-6 by the end of the first quarter and built a 24-18 lead at halftime, and had to overcome the Jackrabbits’ full-court press in the late going.

“That was a war,” Heber Springs coach Kevin Kyzer said. “They came out and took the battle to us, got up 10-0 and got Tanner Rockwell in foul trouble. We battled back. I’m not disappointed in the way we competed and played at all tonight. They took it to us tonight; it was a tough game.”

Rockwell’s third personal foul came on the offensive side and was the first of four straight offensive fouls committed midway through the first quarter. Lonoke’s T.J. Scott and Caleb Bracey were also whistled for offensive fouls in that stretch.

Rockwell’s absence for the remainder of the half allowed Lonoke to keep it close through the second quarter until Brown made a basket and Michael May hit a three-pointer in the final 30 seconds that gave Heber Springs a 24-18 lead at halftime.

“We let them do things they’re good at,” Lonoke coach Dean Campbell said. “And that’s hit set-shot threes and sent them to the free-throw line. I know coaches all over the country, and we all talk about how being able to pass into the post is a lost art, and we were a prime example of that tonight.”

Heber Springs built its largest lead late in the third when Rocco Miochie made a three-pointer for the 39-29 lead with 2:41 left in the quarter. Watson made up ground for Lonoke with a jumper followed by a putback, and Darius Scott made a three pointer with 1:14 left in the third to close the gap to 39-36.

Scott led the Jackrabbits with 25 points while Watson added 12.

Watson also pulled the Jackrabbits to within one possession with 1:04 left to play when he hit two free throws, but Rockwell closed strong with a basket in the final 37 seconds that set the final margin.

Kyser spent most of the second half yelling at his players to close defensive gaps against a Lonoke offense that had already proved capable of scoring from the outside. The Panthers responded in the fourth quarter by holding Darius Scott to a pair of field goals, while Watson went 3 for 4 at the free-throw line and Storm Beeler went 4 for 4.

“We still hand checked a couple of times instead of depending on our help to slide over and catch, and we put them on the line,” Kyser said. “They didn’t miss their free throws. That hurt us a little bit, but we finished it up decent on defense, but we’d like to have taken better care of the ball there at the end.”

Darius Scott came out with a hot hand, hitting his first three-pointer from the top of the key a minute in and making his second from the same spot 30 seconds later. Watson increased the lead to 9-0 with a three-pointer assisted by Scott with 5:44 left in the first half.

T.J. Scott added a free throw with 4:56 left in the first half to give the ’Rabbits a 10-0 lead before the Panthers started their comeback.

“A couple of those shots we banked in and got in a flow and got excited,” Campbell said. “It’s easy after some of those go to fall in love with shooting the three. We talked about that, and tried not to rely on it as our main thing.”

After Lonoke’s early run, Heber Springs’ defense dug in and held the Jackrabbits scoreless from 4:56 left in the first quarter until 2:59 remaining in the half when Darius Scott hit another three pointer to make it 14-13 Panthers.

“That was really the first time we’ve came out and been assertive and got the lead,” Campbell said. “If we’re going to continue to be that way, then we’ve got to sustain that, and that’s difficult to do.”