Tuesday, January 31, 2012

SPORTS >> Jackrabbits control inside

Leader sportswriter

Physical play inside was the key for Lonoke as the Jackrabbits out-muscled Southside Batesville for a 50-32 victory in the 4A-2 Conference at the LHS gymnasium on Friday.

The Jackrabbits (13-6, 6-2) kept the pace slow in the first half while establishing the lead, then opened things up in the second half. Lonoke outscored its guest 19-9 in the third quarter and kept its intensity high through the final eight minutes.

Sophomore Blake Mack led the Jackrabbits with 15 points, eight rebounds and five steals while senior guard and team captain Tarrale Watson added 14 points and three blocked shots for Lonoke. Senior reserve Keli Bryant finished with eight points.

“What I’m really excited about is the fact that we really defended,” Lonoke coach Dean Campbell said. “We talked about doing that before we could get in transition. To be able to have fun just playing the game, you’ve got to pay your dues – defend on one end and get rebounds, and we did that.”

Bryant gave the Jackrabbits a 13-7 lead to end the first quarter when he took an assist from Darrius McCall and hit from three-point range just before the buzzer. That was how the margin remained until Mack scored under the goal at the 4:23 mark of the second quarter. Mack finished the first half with five points before turning up the heat in the third quarter along with Watson. The pair bullied their way inside against a Southside Batesville defense that appeared to be timid at times.

“We’re bigger than they are and at some positions, I feel like we’re stronger,” Campbell said. “In our conference, that’s the way you have to be. Heber’s very strong, Marianna’s strong, even Newport and some of the other teams that are up there are pretty strong physically.

“And that’s what we’re trying to do, we’re trying to get and-ones, not trying to go to the free-throw line. And that’s what we talk about is trying to finish at the basket.”

Watson pushed Lonoke’s lead into double digits for the first time when he scored on a reverse lay up off a steal and assist from Mack 7:02 mark of the third quarter. He also earned a trip to the free-throw line during the play and converted the and one to give the Jackrabbits a 22-11 lead.

Mack was next to convert a traditional three-point play to stretch the lead to 25-11 with 6:11 left to play in the third quarter. Mack went on to score nine of his game high 15 points in the third quarter.

“Blake is one of those guys that when things are going good, he’s pretty good,” Campbell said. “He was a lot more aggressive defensively, and those are things he can do. When a team is like that where they won’t let him get to the rim, for him to defend and try to get boards and do something on the offensive end is big for us.

“When he does that, we’re really good. When we try to do things in a way other than that, that’s what hurts us.”

Other Lonoke players got in on the scoring later in the period as Dra Offord scored on a putback at the 4:10 mark to give the Jackrabbits a 30-14 lead.

Mack scored on two more possessions before Bryant hit again from the outside with his second three pointer of the game to give Lonoke its largest lead at 37-15.

With the game in hand midway through the fourth quarter, Watson decided to give the home crowd a show with a dunk at the 3:35 mark to up Lonoke’s lead to 46-25.

Lonoke shot 43 percent from the floor (17 of 40) While Southside Batesville went 31 percent (11 of 35).