Wednesday, December 18, 2013

SPORTSSTORY >> Lonoke dominant in second half at CSJ

Leader sports editor

It took a week longer than it was supposed to, but the Lonoke Jackrabbits brought home the first-place trophy in the Conway St. Joseph tournament on Saturday, beating the host team 43-28 after struggling in the first half.

After taking a slim 19-17 lead into intermission, the Jackrabbits were utterly dominant on defense in the second half after making some adjustments.

“We finally decided to defend better,” said Lonoke coach Dean Campbell of his team’s second half effort. “I thought we gambled a little too much in our last game because we could get away with it. I was worried that we would do that again, and we did to start. We overplayed and gambled, and they got us with the back door stuff. We were a lot more disciplined in the second half and it turned out a lot better.”

The margin stayed between two and four points for the first five minutes of the third quarter. With Lonoke leading 23-21, guard Jamel Rankin hit a three pointer with 3:05 on the clock to kick start 10-0 Jackrabbit run that ended with a slam dunk out of the half-court set that put Lonoke up 33-21 with 7:02 left in the game.

Brenton Bryant drained a three pointer at the buzzer to end the third quarter, and Mack’s dunk firmly established control for Lonoke.

At one point, St. Joseph had four-straight possessions end in Lonoke steals, and six-straight possessions that ended in turnovers without the Bulldogs getting a shot into the air.

The Bulldogs finally got a three-point play to get back to within nine points, but Lonoke scored the next five and the margin remained between 13 and 15 the rest of the way.

Lonoke, 5-0, also committed to getting the ball inside on offense. Mack had just three points at halftime, but finished with 11, scoring all eight of his second-half points in the fourth quarter.

“We settled in and ran the offense a lot better in the second half,” Campbell said. “When we got the lead we only wanted good shots, and we were patient and did that for the most part. We got a lot of steals in the second half, but we didn’t rush anything in transition. It was just a lot better half than the first one. We played much better.”

Rankin led Lonoke with 13 points.