Friday, January 27, 2012

SPORTS >> Jackrabbits get two conference wins at Stuttgart

Leader sportswriter

The Lonoke Jackrabbits needed overtime to take a huge 56-55 victory over Stuttgart in a 4A-2 Conference road game on Tuesday.

The Jackrabbits (14-6, 7-2) came back from an eight-point deficit midway through the fourth quarter, and actually took a two-point lead in the final minute of regulation before Stuttgart scored on a lay up just before the buzzer to force overtime.

“You could tell our guys were a little disappointed after that happened,” Lonoke

coach Dean Campbell said. “But I told them that they needed to understand, we were the ones who came back and were down – we’re the ones with momentum. I think that helped us take that momentum into overtime.”

The Ricebirds took the lead early in the extra period before Lonoke senior guard Tarrale Watson led the ’Rabbits back. The game was tied with 10.7 seconds left to play when Stuttgart hit the front end of a two-shot foul. Watson pulled down the rebound on the missed second shot and quickly got the ball out to Darius McCall. McCall moved to the middle of the court and found sophomore Blake Mack, who went up for the winning shot but was off. Watson powered his way up for the offensive rebound and dropped it in for a putback just before the buzzer.

“We were more or less down the whole game,” Campbell said. “It’s big – I don’t think we’ve won over there since the ’08 season. That’s a three-year drought, but it’s a tough place to play.”

Watson led the Jackrabbits with 17 points, including 6 for 6 from the free-throw line, while junior post player Reid McKenzie added 14 points and Mack had 12 points despite sitting out most of the second quarter after getting into early foul trouble.

The Lady Jackrabbits also came up big on the road when they defeated Stuttgart 51-43 on Tuesday. Freshman guard Kerasha Johnson led Lonoke with 14 points and eight steals, while senior Kaitlyn Tate added 10 points for the Lady ’Rabbits (13-9, 7-2).

“Playing in a place like Stuttgart is always tough,” Lady Jackrabbits coach Nathan Morris said. “So it was a great win for us from that standpoint, and it was good for us to get out of there with a win to help us in the conference race.”

Johnson went on a 4-0 run for Lonoke to start the fourth quarter, giving the Lady Jackrabbits a 40-29 lead.

The Lady Ricebirds inched their way back, and took advantage of Lonoke’s struggle at the foul line to stay within striking distance most of the way. The Lady ’Rabbits went 12 of 36 from the stripe.

But they made up for some of that on the boards, out-rebounding the Lady Ricebirds 35-20.

The conference race remains close at the halfway point with Marianna up top at 8-1, while Lonoke, Heber Springs and Southside Batesville clog up the second spot all at 7-2.

Heber Springs defeated Southside on Tuesday to make a close race even closer, while the Lady Jackrabbits hosted the Lady Southerners Friday night in a game with big implications.