Tuesday, February 07, 2012

SPORTS >> ’Rabs split pair with Cave City

Leader sportswriter

A strong second half boosted the Lonoke Lady Jackrabbits to a 47-25 victory at Cave City on Friday. The Lady Jackrabbits outscored the Cavewomen 13-8 in the third quarter before holding the hosts to a single point in the fourth quarter with increased defensive pressure.

“We played a little more zone in the fourth quarter,” Lady Jackrabbits coach Nathan Morris said. “We pressured more in the second half altogether.”

The victory improved the Lady Jackrabbits to 14-11 overall and 8-4 in the 4A-2 Conference.

Cave City matched Lonoke beat for beat through most of the first half until Lady Jackrabbits senior guard Kaitlyn Tate made a three-point basket in the final eight seconds of the second quarter to give Lonoke a 20-16 lead at the break.

“We didn’t play especially great in the first half,” Morris said. “We didn’t value the ball very well. Second half, played better defensively, we had a lot better defensive pressure in the third quarter. And the fourth quarter, we played a little more relaxed on offense and started moving the ball a lot better.”

The Lady Jackrabbits got off to a slow start in the first quarter with no score until senior Mary Davis came off the bench to make a pair of free throws midway through the period. The two teams eventually fought to a 10-10 deadlock at the end of the first quarter despite no scoring from either team early on.

Lonoke was 18 of 58 from the field for 31 percent and was 10 of 13 from the free-throw line.

“We had shots, maybe we didn’t quite attack the basket hard enough,” Morris said. “There were not a lot of fouls called, it was that type of game that we got into, but it helped when we upped the pressure in that third quarter.”

Senior post player Anna Himstedt led the Lady Jackrabbits with nine points while freshman guard Kerasha Johnson added eight points. Eboni Willis and Savannah Holman each finished with seven points for Lonoke, with all of Holman’s points coming consecutively during a run in the third quarter.

The Jackrabbits boys team did not fare as well and lost 53-52. The Cavemen were playing in memory of a recently-fallen classmate for an inspiring performance in front of an emotional crowd. Cave City has been a conundrum all season, losing to teams at the bottom of the standings and beating the teams at the top.

It was the second straight loss for Lonoke, which also lost at Marianna Tuesday 67-58.

The two teams battled to a 19-19 lead at the half before the Cavemen outscored Lonoke 17-12 in the third quarter. The Jackrabbits made some of that up in a frantic final period in which they outscored Cave City 21-17.

“We pressured them practically the entire second half,” Lonoke coach Dean Campbell said. “And in doing that, I think we got into their legs and were able to make a run on them.”

Sophomore Blake Mack led the Jackrabbits with 21 points while senior Tarrale Watson poured in another 15 for Lonoke.

The Jackrabbits are now 15-8 overall and 8-4 in the 4A-2 Conference. Campbell was pleased with both the shooting and defensive efforts of his team, but simply said playing against an inspired team is a difficult game to win, especially on the road.

“They were definitely driven,” Campbell said. “Sometimes, you have to have more to play for than just the game. Kids will always come together in those types of situations.”

Lonoke hosted Clinton last night and will have senior night at home against Heber Springs on Friday to conclude the 4A-2 Conference schedule before district tournament play begins next week at Heber Springs.