Tuesday, February 05, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Jackrabbits roll by Greyhounds

Leader sportswriter

Friday was senior night at the Lonoke High School gym, and the Jackrabbits celebrated with a 57-42 conference win over Newport to increase their winning streak to 11 games.

Lonoke is now 15-4 overall and 10-1 in the 4A-2 Conference. Lonoke is currently tied for first place with Dollarway in the conference standings after splitting the season series with the Cardinals. Dollarway owns the tiebreaker since its win over the Jackrabbits in December was by a larger margin.

“At this point we want to try and get better,” said Lonoke coach Dean Campbell. “We’re still trying to push to get as high of a seed as we can in the district tournament. I want us to focus on defending and continue to get better blocking out. I didn’t think we started off the game very well doing that.

“For maybe a quarter and a half, we didn’t do those things. We got away from those things that we talked about and worked on. But I guess we decided to go back and do what we’re supposed to be doing. And when we do that, we get a lot better on both ends.”

Lonoke struggled out of the gate as the Greyhounds (9-8, 7-6) led 15-8 near the end of the opening quarter. The Jackrabbits were able to cut the margin to 15-12 by the end of the quarter on a transition layup by junior point guard Jamel Rankin.

The Lonoke defense stepped up in the second quarter, forcing eight Newport turnovers and giving up just four points. On the other end, Lonoke’s offense scored 13 points in the quarter and by halftime the ‘Rabbits led 25-19.

The ‘Rabbits began the second half with a 5-1 scoring run to push their lead to 32-21 by the 5:41 mark. Lonoke’s defense continued to play well throughout the third quarter, giving up just seven points in the period. Darrius McCall scored eight of Lonoke’s 17 points in the quarter to help give the ‘Rabbits a comfortable 42-26 lead heading into the final frame.

Kristen Crite, Lorenzo Ollison and Robert Robinson combined to score 16 points for the Greyhounds in the fourth quarter, but Lonoke had an answer for just about every basket. Dra Offord, Reid McKenzie, Dustyn Perkins, Blake Mack, Tykel Gray and Rankin combined to score 15 points for Lonoke in the fourth quarter, which kept Newport from cutting into the lead.

McKenzie set the final score on a transition layup with 17 seconds to play.

Even though it’s been a while since Lonoke’s tasted defeat, Campbell still sees room for improvement as postseason play approaches.

“We’re a very fickle group I think at times,” Campbell said. “It’s like I told the guys, I’m happy that we won and I feel like we’re doing some good things, but of course I’m always going to push them to get better. We would love to get a conference championship. The way things are shaking out we’re going to have to have some help, but we want to play as long as we possibly can, and I think we’re in a position where we can literally do that.”

Three different Lonoke players finished the game in double figures scoring wise. Rankin led the way with 15 points. Mack scored 12. McCall added 10.

The Jackrabbits ran that conference win streak to 12 games on Saturday, beating Marianna 59-40 in a makeup game from Tuesday. Blake Mack scored 31 to lead all scorers.

Lonoke continued conference play yesterday at Clinton after deadlines, and will close the regular season on the road Friday at Heber Springs.