Friday, December 16, 2011

SPORTS >> Overtime isn’t kind to Lonoke

Leader sports editor

The Lonoke ladies suffered a tough loss on the road at Southside-Batesville on Monday. The Lady Southerners hit a bank shot at the buzzer to send it to overtime, and rode that momentum in the extra period to a 53-46 victory. Southside was the preseason favorite to win the 4A-2 Conference, and Lonoke coach Nathan Morris can’t help but feel his team let one, it should have had, get away.

“That’s about as bad of a heartbreaking loss as we’ve had around here for a while,” Morris said. “We actually feel pretty good coming out of it considering it was a road game at the odds on favorite home floor. But the loss stings, don’t get me wrong.”

Lonoke held a 27-13 lead late in the second quarter. Southside hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to make it an 11-point game, and continued a slow but steady comeback throughout the second half.

The Lady Southerners didn’t do it without some help. Lonoke missed eight of 10 free-throw attempts in the fourth quarter, including the front end of three one-and-one trips.

“We’ve actually been a pretty good free-throw shooting team,” Morris said. “Our average isn’t great, but we’ve got girls shooting a high average. We just haven’t been in many pressure situations this year. Hopefully, you know, we’ve been in that situation now and that won’t happen to us again. We’ll learn from our mistakes.”

Lonoke’s weaknesses had been rebounding and transition defense. Morris said his team did better in those categories for the most part. There were just a couple of instances where breakdowns hurt.

‘In any game like this you can look back, not just at the last few minutes, but any time in the game, and see things you think hurt you.” Morris said. “We missed two free throws and let a girl dribble the distance of the floor without turning her too much and let her get a good shot.”

The Lady Jackrabbits have battled injuries most of the season and have played very few games at full strength. The team was closer to full strength Monday with the addition of sophomore Savannah Holman. Senior Mary Davis joined the team in last night’s game against DeWitt. Senior Kaitlyn Tate is playing injured, and Morris was pleased with her effort against Southside.

“She broke her nose and has been playing with the mask,” Morris said. “She probably played with her best focus in a couple of games. It’s great to see a kid presented with a little adversity step up to the challenge.”

Lonoke’s play in Batesville has Morris as optimistic about the season as ever.

“Southside is the team people expected to be at the top,” Morris said. “Now that I’ve seen all but one of the teams in our league in person and see what this league entails, when we get these girls back we’ve had injured, I see we’re capable of finishing at the top of this league. We’re going to have road blocks in the way. You get back to the dynamics of bringing it every day and getting this team to come together. But that’s the challenge and the fun part of what we do.”

Derrika Mays led a balanced Lonoke attack with 10 points Monday. Four other players scored at least seven.

The Lady Jackrabbits do not play again until Dec. 28 in the opening round of the Beebe Holiday Classic.