Saturday, January 19, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot North girls cruise past Benton

By GRAHAM POWELL
Leader sportswriter

A strong first quarter on both ends of the court helped the Cabot Junior High North Lady Panthers coast to a 35-19 victory over Benton on Thursday at the Cabot North gym to maintain their perfect record in the Central Arkansas Junior High Conference.

Lily Sinclair, Maddie Rice, Claire Eifling, Rachel Allgood and CoCo Calhoon all put up points for Cabot (11-4, 3-0) in the opening quarter to take an 11-0 lead. However, Benton (3-14, 0-4) wouldn’t make it so easy in the second quarter.

The visiting Lady Panthers opened the second quarter with a 6-0 scoring run to cut Cabot’s lead to 11-6. Cabot scored its first point of the quarter on a free throw by MaKenzie Sexton with 1:38 to play in the half.

Sexton’s free throw put Cabot up 12-6, and she made two more free throws to close the half. Sexton’s final point of the quarter came with 0.5 seconds to play which put Cabot up 14-6 at halftime.

“A win is always good,” said Cabot coach Jeremy Halbrook. “I’m very proud of the first quarter. We came out and went up 11-0. We’d been having an excellent week of practice, and this is our second time around playing this team. So we kind of knew what we were going to see. (Benton’s) scrappy – not very athletic, but they sometimes get you to play scrappy.”

Sexton was the only player to put points on the board for Cabot in the second quarter, but the third quarter was more of a team effort. The result of that was Cabot outscoring Benton 12-4 in the third to take a 26-10 lead at the start of the fourth.

Cabot outrebounded Benton 6-1 and committed just one turnover in that time. The turnaround was pleasing for Halbrook to see.

“The first and third quarters were really good,” Halbrook said. “The second quarter was when we got kind of slow, but a lot of that was being 3 for 7 from the free-throw line, and we couldn’t set up our press or anything. But we’re 3-0 in conference. We have to go to Lake Hamilton next week which will be a tough game, but overall I’m pretty excited with the way they played.”

Benton cut Cabot’s lead to 10 with a 5-1 run to start the final quarter, but the host Lady Panthers got the margin back up to 16 by the end of the game. Calhoon, who led Cabot with a game-high 13 points, scored the final four points down the stretch to set the final score.

Cabot narrowly outrebounded Benton 19-16 and made 55 percent of its free throws compared to Benton’s 29 percent. The most impressive statistic for Cabot was its six total turnovers, bettering Benton’s 16.

Sexton finished the game with seven points. Eifling added five points while Allgood and Rice scored four apiece. The Cabot North freshmen play next at Lake Hamilton on Thursday.

In the game prior to the ninth-grade games, Cabot North’s eighth-grade girls improved to 8-1 on the season with a 20-7 win over Benton. Cabot led by a commanding 16-3 lead after three quarters of play, and Benton managed to clean up the score late.

Haley Sobczak led all scorers in that game with seven points. Josie Starr scored five points and Bethany Hill added four points for Cabot.

SPORTS STORY >> Badger signs with Lyon

By JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

The Beebe baseball program celebrated its third senior to reach the next level in 2012-13 with the signing of first baseman Cody Reaves at the Media Center Wednesday morning. Reaves signed his Letter of Intent to play for Lyon College in Batesville.

Reaves joined Brandon Stane and Jared Aschbrenner as fellow Badgers signed on to play college baseball next year. Stane and Aschbrenner signed with Northwestern State University and Henderson State University respectively back in mid November.

Reaves joined the varsity program under coach Mark Crafton as a freshman, and though his playing time was limited, he was a part of school history as a member of the 2010 team that claimed the 5A state championship.

“Cody has put a lot of time and work into this program,” Crafton said. “He helped himself get better individually, and of course the team as well. He’s made good strides and comes from a great family background. That’s what makes it enjoyable to coach Cody. He’s a well-rounded individual and as a player. He’s going to a great institution to get his college degree and continue to play baseball.”

Reaves also played a minor role as a sophomore before becoming a starting player for his junior season.

“I really didn’t get a lot of actual varsity playing time until last year,” Reaves said. “I think the two previous years were good for learning the ropes, and I had a good bunch of seniors those two years that taught me well and helped me become a better baseball player.”

Reaves was unsatisfied with his .280 batting average last year, but his strong 3.3 GPA helped attract interest from a number of in-state programs, including Lyon.

“It’s a great academic school,” Reaves said. “They offered me a baseball scholarship, and I always wanted to play baseball in college. To be able to play at a school as prestigious as Lyon is a good thing.”

Reaves went to tryouts at a few other schools, but once Lyon showed interest, the Scots program instantly became his main focus.

As part of the state-championship winning team as a freshman, Reaves would like to repeat that success in his final season wearing a Badger uniform this spring.

“The ultimate goal for me is to win a state championship,” Reaves said. “Whatever my role is on the team, whatever I have to do to help us out. I feel like the best thing I’ve been working toward these last four years is to win another state championship again. There’s no better feeling.”

SPORTS STROY >> Panthers’ bowling beats NP

The Cabot High School bowling team competed against the North Pulaski Falcons at Allfam Bowling Center in Cabot on Thursday. In the end, Cabot was able to pull out their seventh win in seven matches, but according to Cabot coach Mike Nash, it was well earned.

“North Pulaski is a very solid program and I knew our team had to be focused to win the match,” Nash said. “Thankfully, the kids came in with a business attitude and won a hard fought match.”

Leading the way for the boys was senior Dylan Wilson, who bowled a 415 two game series, followed by junior Cayden Cook’s 375 series. For the girls, senior Shelby Smith finished with a 400 series and freshman Megan Bugiel added a 312 series.

For the season, both Panther teams are 7-0 and are looking forward to a strong finish this year. Both teams are looking to repeat as conference champions and both teams are considered one of the favorites to win state this year. With everyone back this season, the boys especially are looking to repeat their state title run of last season.

“Luckily, we have all of our bowlers from last year’s state championship team back,” Nash said. “We have an excellent shot to repeat, but we are not going to win by simply showing up. We have to perform.”

So far, the boys are led by senior Chris Brown who averages 228 per game, followed by junior Adrian Nicholas’ 211, junior Jace Jennings’ 203 and senior Kenny Pederson’s 201.

The girls team will be trying to win their third state championship in the last five years. Smith has the chance to tie a state record by winning her third individual state title and become just the second player in the state to do so. Last year Smith set the state record with a three game 700 series. Nash says with Smith, the ladies always have a chance.

“While Shelby is a great bowler she is also a great leader,” Nash said. “Whether she is cheering on her team or sharing her knowledge with her teammates, she is about the team first.”

Smith is averaging 203 this year – up from her 192 average last year.

The Panthers will end the season this year with conference on February 6 and state on February 11.

SPORTS STORY >> JHS gets two wins in River City play

By RAY BENTON
Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville freshmen basketball teams got a River City Conference sweep of White Hall Thursday at Jacksonville High School. The Red Devil girls won 32-28 while the boys pulled off a 46-33 victory.

The Jacksonville boys ran out to a big lead early in the first quarter, but had trouble putting away the pesky Bulldogs. The Red Devils’ lead grew to 20 points twice and as many as 22 in the fourth quarter, but White Hall had its best run of the game in the last half of the final frame to make the score respectable.

Jacksonville post player Demarcus Hinton had a monster game. He finished with a team-high 10 points and a game high of 18 rebounds.

Jacksonville’s pressure took its toll early in the game as the Red Devils’ full-court defense forced seven White Hall turnovers in the opening period.

Jacksonville also struggled to score in the very early going. Gio Castellano came off the bench to spark the offense, scoring six straight points and leading the Red Devils to a 15-5 lead in the first quarter.

Jacksonville pushed its lead to 18 in the first three minutes of the second quarter, but was never able to distance itself much more the rest of the game.

Hinton scored two buckets and Castellano drained a three pointer to put the Red Devils up 25-7, but the game went into halftime with Jacksonville’s lead cut to 27-14.

Again in the third quarter, Jacksonville’s lead grew to 37-17, but a three pointer and bucket at the buzzer by Jordan Shaw made it 37-22 at the start of the fourth.

The Red Devils’ lead finally hit 20 points at the 4:35 mark of the fourth, and Laquan Smith’s two free throws made it 44-22 with 3:59 left in the game. From there White Hall outscored Jacksonville 13-4 the rest of the way.

Shaw did most of the damage for the Bulldogs. He hit two three pointers in the fourth, including a bank shot from the top of the key. He finished with a game-high 18 points and was the only Bulldog in double figures.

The win improves Jackson-ville to 9-2 while White Hall falls to 5-5.

The girls game was a game of second-half runs. Jacksonville grabbed a 9-4 lead in the first quarter and each team managed just six points in the second. White Hall scored the first four points of the third to make it 15-14, and Jacksonville took off from there.

The Lady Red Devils turned up the pressure and went on a 13-0 run. Most of the points came in transition after switching to a full-court defense. The Lady Bulldogs got just one more free throw after and Jacksonville took a 28-15 lead into the fourth quarter.

White Hall then scored the first six points of the fourth with pressure of its own. Jacksonville coach Jerry Wilson called timeout with 3:30 left and his team holding a 28-21 lead. The Lady Devils scored four quick points out of the timeout, but didn’t score again. White Hall scored seven straight and trailed by just four points with a minute left, but the Lady Bulldogs also failed to score again.

Jacksonville improved to 6-6 while White Hall fell to 3-7.

SPORTS STORY >> Jackrabbits split a pair at Stuttgart

By RAY BENTON 
Leader sports editor

The Lonoke boys and girls teams split a pair of 4A-2 Conference games Thursday night at Stuttgart. Playing a makeup game that was postponed in early December due to much of Stuttgart’s team playing in the football state championship, the Lonoke boys got a 56-36 victory while the girls lost a 42-41 heartbreaker in overtime.

The boys were mired in a slow-paced game through two quarters, but the pace picked up dramatically in the second half. Stuttgart has struggled this season with a young team and a new coach, and tried to keep Lonoke from picking up early transition buckets. The Ricebirds came out in a 2-3 zone defense and Lonoke was patient with the ball. The Ricebirds were patient on offense as well, and it all led to a very low-scoring first quarter.

“We were guarding for pretty long stretches,” Lonoke coach Dean Campbell said. “I was proud of them for being able to guard that long. They were trying to be patient and run their stuff and we just moved our feet and did the things we were supposed to do.”

Lonoke held a 10-0 lead until Stuttgart finally scored on the last shot of the quarter. Things didn’t change much in the second quarter, but Campbell was still pleased with how his team performed.

“The first two quarters, I felt like even though we didn’t score a lot, we did things we’re supposed to do against a defense like that, and found open shots,” Campbell said.

The Jackrabbits took an 18-8 lead into intermission. They came out in the thirdquarter with a different tempo in mind and a plan to force it.

Lonoke’s pressure forced a few Stuttgart turnovers early in the third and the Jackrabbits built a 17-point lead. Stuttgart called timeout and that’s when Campbell says his team’s discipline waned a bit.

“I felt like after we jumped on them pretty good there in the third, we took a few too many chances defensively,” Campbell said. “We ended up giving them some open looks and some easy baskets. We did create a lot of turnovers, but once we did that we thought we could get them every time. They did a good job of taking advantage of that when they could.”

Stuttgart never seriously threatened to come back and win the game, but the head Jackrabbit would like to have seen his team put the Ricebirds away in the third.

“We still haven’t developed that killer instinct,” Campbell said. “We want to gamble too much and more times than not we end up letting teams climb back into it. Our stretches of playing fundamental basketball are getting longer. We are getting better and that’s good to see. You’re going to have peaks and valleys. We’re still working on making those valleys a lot shorter.”

Blake Mack led Lonoke with 13 points. Jamel Rankin scored 11 and Zach Risner added nine for the Jackrabbits (11-4, 5-1).

The Lady Jackrabbits (8-10, 2-4) led almost the entire game, but ended up needing a buzzer beater to send it to overtime. Stuttgart started the game in a spread out 2-3 zone and Lonoke attacked it well. The home team switched to a 1-3-1 and Lonoke had its best moments of the game.

“We really punished them when they went to the 1-3-1, so they got out of that,” Lonoke girls coach Nathan Morris said. “They finally went to a man defense in the fourth quarter and we didn’t do very well. I don’t know if we were tired, but we weren’t getting open. We weren’t setting very good screens and our guards weren’t looking for the screens. We were trying to fake our way open and it just wasn’t working.”

Lonoke led 12-6 after one quarter and 22-14 at halftime. Stuttgart cut the margin to two midway through the third, but Lonoke stretched back out to 30-22 by the start of the fourth. That’s when Stuttgart (9-6, 3-4) switched to man defense and outscored Lonoke 18-8 in the fourth quarter.

Lonoke sophomore Jasalyn Truelove hit a bucket at the end of regulation to send the game into overtime. Stuttgart’s offensive momentum stopped in its tracks in the overtime period. The Lady Ricebirds managed just two free throws the entire four minutes, but Lonoke got just one.

Truelove had two free throws with 2.6 seconds remaining in the extra period to tie or win the game, but missed them both.

“It’s easy to point at those two misses, but we were terrible from the line the whole game,” Morris said.

Lonoke went 9 of 24 from the line, including 1 of 10 in the second half and overtime.

“That’s the story right there,” Morris said. “Two more free throws anywhere and we win. We could’ve still shot less than 50 percent and won the game. But you make it hard on yourself when you hit 9 of 24.”

Kerasha Johnson led Lonoke with 14 points. Haley Johnson led Stuttgart with 16.

Lonoke played Clinton at home last night after The Leader deadlines and will turn around and host Stuttgart on Tuesday.

TOP STORY >> All kinds of weather visited in December

By RICK KRON 
Leader staff writer

It’s hard to imagine after living through all that Christmas snow and, for many, five days or more without power that December started out setting and tying record highs.

Record highs were tied in Jacksonville on Dec. 1 at 75 degrees and on Dec 9 at 72 degrees. The month was the second warmest December on record, and the warmest since 1984, based on the average temperature.

Looking at just the high temperatures, it was the third warmest December on record, and looking at the low temperatures, it was the second warmest December on record.

But a little cold got into the month.

On Dec. 27 after the snow stopped falling and the skies opened up crystal blue, it got cold and a new low was set that morning in Jacksonville when it dipped to 13 degrees. The last seven days of the month averaged about eight degrees below normal.

Officially, the Christmas snowfall, the first in 86 years, was 8 inches in Jacksonville, with another inch added on the 26th. Cabot saw 10 inches and places around Ward clocked in at 13.5 inches, according to the National Weather Service.

The ice, sleet, snow, and blowing winds created near blizzard conditions for most of central Arkansas Christmas afternoon and into the next day.

Weather officials said this was the first time the area had seen such blizzard conditions since Jan. 28, 1966.

The Christmas snowstorm covered most of the state, with Harrison and Monticello getting a few tenths of an inch to central Arkansas where most residents saw eight or more inches.

The snowstorm set many all-time December snowfall records, both daily and monthly, as well as several all-time daily snow records, but it didn’t add much to the month’s total precipitation as it takes 10 inches of snow to equal one inch of rain. For the month, the local area received 5.6 inches of precipitation in December, most of that coming not in the Christmas snows, but in a pair of thunderstorms that rolled through during the month. The thunderstorms spawned two tornadoes in the state, raising the total to 18 for the year, well below the average of 33 tornadoes per year.

The 5.6 inches of precipitation was about a half inch more than normal.

According to weather monitors at Little Rock Air Force Base, nine inches of snow fell during a 24-hour period Dec. 25-26, making it the snowiest 24-hour December snowfall on record. The previous record was 8 inches set in 1963. The eight inches of snow on Christmas Day ranks as the snowiest December day on record, beating out the 7.7 inches that fell Dec. 22, 1963.

However the snowiest day on record for Jacksonville happened Jan. 6, 1988, when the area was hit with 11.9 inches of snow. The all-time record daily snowfall in December for the state was set Dec. 31, 1876, in Monticello when 21 inches fell.

TOP STORY >> Command chief enjoy new role

By STAFF SGT. NESTOR CRUZ
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The chief master sergeant sat in her office and sipped coffee on a cold January day. She spoke with a gentle tone that gave no indication of her experience as a basic military training instructor at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.

Chief Master Sgt. Andrea Gates, the 314th Airlift Wing’s newest command chief, is proud of her selection as the wing’s senior enlisted leader and the training experience she brings to the table.

“I’ve always liked to teach,” Gates said. “Even when I stopped being an instructor, I always liked to teach at the First Term Airman Center and other places because I like giving information back and mentoring.”

Gates said being a military training instructor was probably her most favorite job since it gave her the opportunity to mentor airmen at the beginning of their careers.

“I loved being an MTI,” the command chief said. “I liked being in that position of molding fresh, eager young people that you have the chance to influence and start them off on the right foot in their career.”

The command chief is excited to partner with her old friend, Chief Master Sgt. Margarita Overton, 19th Airlift Wing command chief, in training Little Rock airmen.

As the 314th AW command chief, Gates is responsible for the morale, welfare, professional development and combat readiness of the wing’s 900 airmen and 1,800 aircrew students. The wing’s mission is to train C-130 aircrew members from across the Department of Defense, Coast Guard and 44 allied nations, but Gates charges all airmen with being mentors.

“I feel that everybody in the Air Force is a teacher,” she said. “It’s all about passing on knowledge whether you got it from a book, a classroom or just from experience. If you’ve learned a lesson or picked up information along the way, and somebody else doesn’t have it, you need to pass that on.”

Gates is eager to get out and meet the men and women of Team Little Rock. She believes in using her position to help airmen to the best of her ability.

“To become a chief is to be in the best possible position to help airmen,” Gates said. “I just want to do everything I can to help and be in the best position to help everybody without forgetting where I came from or how I got here because it was certainly numerous airmen throughout my career who gave me the tool kit to be here today.”

“Anywhere you go nowadays it’s all about partnerships,” said Gates. “You find more and more bases with wings working together. Everybody brings something different to the fight.

Gates said, “Ultimately, the end result is getting airmen trained to the best of our ability. It’s a total force effort,” she added.

TOP STORY >> A&P defends $150,000 deal with PR firm

By SARAH CAMPBELL
Leader staff writer

The Sells Agency has a $150,000 contract with Jacksonville to do what city employees can’t, according to the Jacksonville Advertising and Promotions Commission chairman.

The Little Rock-based marketing, advertising and public-releations firm does not duplicate the work of the chamber of commerce and economic development consultant Rickey Hayes of Retail Attractions, said A&P chairman Mike Houchen.

Hayes said, “(The Sells Agency) markets the city of Jacksonville locally and regionally. Our marketing is targeted to developers and national retailers and restaurants. It’s a completely different discipline. It’s not marketing the overall community to the region or to the citizens of Jacksonville.”

The commission paid the Sells Agency $151,543 in 2012. Houchen said the additional $1,543 that was over the budget for the contract came from leftover hamburger and motel tax revenues that were collected but not budgeted. The commission did not obtain the additional funds from their reserves, he said.

Houchen said the $151,543 is the most the commission has ever paid the agency. The reason for the additional spending was that the firm promoted the Little Rock Air Force Base air show that is held every two years and produced a video for the Jacksonville Boys and Girls Club to show at the first fundraising event the organization has held in several years. The video was also posted on the club’s website.

Houchen said city employees need help from the agency’s staff. “Everybody works together to promote the city. One person can’t do everything by themselves.”

He said the Sells Agency means six to eight people are working on the project rather than one individual.

Mike Sells, the owner of the Sells Agency, agreed. He said, “The agency has got a lot of professional specialist and we get results. We’ve got staffmembers that can do real specific things. (Clients) feel the agency has a lot of expertise it can’t get in-house.”

Houchen said city departments would have to spend “a whole lot more” to hire employees who could do what the Sells Agency does.

Jack Danielson of the Reed’s Bridge Preservation Society agreed. A press release with his name at the top as the person to contact for more information was submitted to The Leader as a sample of the Sells Agency’s work.

Danielson explained that he put together the information for the release, submitted it to the commission’s recording secretary, Nikki Wilmoth, and she forwarded it to the Sells Agency.

Danielson said, “They have all the places to contact. We give information and they put it together.”

Houchen disagreed that Jacksonville has three entities — the Sells Agency, Hayes and the Chamber of Commerce — performing the same function.

Houchen said the goal of the chamber and Hayes — a consultant who has a $60,000 a year contract with the city with up to another $20,000 for trips, conferences and other incidentals – is to attract businesses to Jacksonville.

Houchen continued, “What we do is totally different from what everyone else is doing. We go above and beyond.”

He explained that the commission’s role is to support tourism, not economic development, which is what the chamber and Hayes focus on.

The chairman said, “We don’t go around and pat ourselves on the back. We kind of just do what needs to be done and make sure it helps the city of Jacksonville. To advertise and promote the community and bring people into the community, to get people to spend money, that’s what the A&P commission does.”

Houchen said the city needs its contract with the Sells Agency.

He explained, “Other communities don’t have as much to overcome as we do. We’ve lost population while communities around us have gained. And you can’t sit here and tell me that these schools are fantastic.”

Houchen said the Sells Agency sends out e-mail notifications to the media 10 days before an event. He said the agency sends a second, reminder e-mail three days before the event.

Houchen offered another, specific example of how the Sells Agency money is used.

He said the chamber recently asked the commission to help advertise a job fair and expo it is holding at the old Walmart building in a couple of months.

The event is not the annual business expo.

The funds the commission is giving the chamber will come out of the agency’s $150,000, Houchen said.

“If someone needs advertising it comes out of the Sells (Agency) budget,” he noted.

According to Houchen, the commission’s total budget is about $800,000 — the prepared food tax and the hotel/motel tax. But half of that funds the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.

The commission operates with funds from a two-cent tax on prepared foods, also known as the hamburger tax, and a two-cent sales tax on hotel and motel room rates.

Houchen elaborated, “It would take $5 million of business to raise $100,000 in revenues. The A&P Commission would get $50,000. It takes a lot of work to generate a lot of money.”

But he was optimistic about the budget.

“The revenues over the last few years have increased every year. Communities around us can’t make that statement,” Houchen said.

Residents chip in every time they visit a restaurant in town, but a lot of the revenue comes from outside visitors, he said.

A lot of that money comes from the thousands of people who attend the Memphis Flea Market each month at the old Walmart, from visitors to the Museum of Military History, Reed’s Bridge and Splash Zone and from crowded tournaments at the ball fields, Houchen said.

“A whole lot of little things we do bring in business,” he continued, adding that the commission owns a portable stage that is “used everywhere in town.”

The commission bought uniforms for the Pathfinder basketball team to wear during tournaments and canoes for the North Pulaski High School stream team.

Houchen said last year was the first time the commission has spent the entire amount it budgets for the agency’s contract. The money that isn’t used does not roll over to the next year, he explained.

Leftover funds from the last few years have provided the commission with a $400,000 fund for emergencies and/or big projects.

Houchen noted, “We have to have reserves. We don’t budget to the max. We’re very conservative with budgeting.The last thing we want to do is run out of money the last two months of the year. We don’t budget for growth. You might call us negotiators. We don’t believe in paying sticker price.”

Of those “negotiators,” according to the city’s code, four must be Pulaski County residents and own or manage businesses in the travel industry. Three have to manage a restaurant, hotel, motel, bed and breakfast or other temporary lodging facility in Jacksonville. The at-large member has to be a Jacksonville resident. Two members must be on the city council.

The city council members serve the term of that office while the rest on the commission have four-year, staggered terms.

The other commissioners are:

• Ray Patel of Days Inn, whose term ends on March 31. He has been serving on the commission since 2003.

• Jim Hurley of Wendy’s, whose term ends in 2015. He has been on the commission since 2003.

• Former Mayor Tommy Swaim, the at-large member, has been a commissioner since 2003. His term also ends in 2015.

• Andy Patel of Comfort Inn, whose term ends in 2016, has been serving on the commission since 2005.

• Aldermen Reedie Ray and Kenny Elliott, whose terms will end in 2014. Ray joined the commission in 2009, and Elliot joined the commission in August.

Houchen does not meet the requirements to be reappointed to the commission. He previously managed Sonic and worked with Cody’s CafĂ© until it closed about six months ago.

Houchen didn’t want to share the personal reason he is not employed now.

His term expires on March 31, and Houchen said he would probably not seek another four years on the commission.

All the members are in compliance with requirements because those standards are applied at the time people are appointed to the commission.

Sells Agency employees performed the following tasks for Jacksonville and were paid for them in 2012:

• 2011 branding campaign project supervision.

• Website revisions including interactive design and project management.

• Business and visitors guide with art concept/direction, mechanical art, copywriting, proofing, print production and printing. Mechanical art includes changes to the original design work and is billed at a lower rate because it is less “strategic,” according to Sells.

• 2011 fall photography project management.

• Project coordination, public relations and public relations support. Sells said the difference between public relations and public relations support is how much the staff has to do. Public relations support is billed at a lower rate because it either involves less demanding work, such as revising rather than writing a press release, or a junior staff member is completing the tasks involved, according to Sells.

• Account management.

• Account supervision.

• Account coordination.

• Office supplies.

• Mileage and postage.

• Military museum brochure with project management, mechanical art, print production and printing.

• Newspaper ads.

• Facebook ads.

• Magazine ads.

• Radio ads.

• Ads in other print publications, such as travel guides.

• Reed’s Bridge brochure with print production and printing.

• 2012 spring photography including project management, art concept/direction and photo shoot art direction.

• Creative direction/supervision, project management and art concept/direction for benefit concert.

• Jacksonville logo update include project management, project coordination, creative direction/supervision, art concept/direction and revisions.

• Project management, broadcast coordination, broadcast production and TV/video production for Boys and Girls Club video.

• Boys and Girls Club event program including project management and art concept/direction.

• Parks and Recreation Department brochure including intern art direction, project management, creative direction/supervision, art concept/direction and copywriting.

• City map revisions with project management, creative direction/supervision, creative development, art concept/direction, revisions and print production.

• Visitor’s guide for air show with project management, art concept/direction and copywriting.

• Video visitor’s guide with TV/video production.

• Printing of the city map,

• Air show T-shirts with project management, art concept/direction, print production and printing.

• Creative direction/supervision, print production and printing for air show booth banner.

• And project management and mechanical art for air show booth.

The commission renewed its $150,000 contract with the Sells Agency last month. The firm has worked with the commission for the last four years. The old contract expired on Jan. 1. The commission was considering one other firm, Heathcott of Little Rock. Heathcott, which offers lower rates than Sells and has Jacksonville roots, was encouraged to resubmit a proposal in the fall.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

EDITORIAL >> Our request on sequester

During their visit to Little Rock Air Force Base last week, Sen. Mark Pryor and Rep. Tim Griffin didn’t exactly panic when they discussed future cuts with military leaders, although Pryor and Griffin conceded the Jacksonville base will lose some C-130s and personnel as billions of dollars are cut from the military budget in the next decade.

Not only will the military lose substantial funding, but so will almost every federal department and agency. The government may not be able to pay its bills after March if Republicans and Democrats don’t address our fiscal crisis.

Pentagon officials have warned Congress that the budget impasse will hurt the military’s readiness and ability to plan for the future. Flight times have already been reduced 20 percent, civilian hiring frozen and nonessential procurement and travel eliminated.

The Pentagon says Washington’s “budget gymnastics” have compromised national security, forcing the military to prepare for a fiscal cliff of its own, even if sequestration is still just a threat.

The military could lose $54.6 billion from this year’s $530 billion budget and hundreds of billions more for a decade if the stalemate continues.

The White House and Congress only temporarily avoided the fiscal cliff on New Year’s Eve, but there will be more budget cuts in March, especially if there’s no deal on raising the debt ceiling. The Pentagon needs to know how much to cut so it can keep airplanes in the air and troops fully equipped for battle.

Prudent voices in Washington are nervous about the next fight over the national debt limit and sequestration, which could harm the military and our national security and hold up checks to military personnel and government contractors, as well as Social Security recipients and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries and others depending on the government.

The so-called fiscal cliff may be a metaphor for our nation’s financial problems, but this is what political brinkmanship looks like: The government will soon lack the ability to issue checks and will have to send out IOUs instead.

Republicans had championed the idea of forced spending reductions, but not so much lately. Rep. Griffin and other budget cutters in Congress thought they could reduce military spending and other domestic programs across-the-board by 9.4 percent. These forced cuts, called sequestration in Washington lingo, would mean more than $1 trillion eliminated from the military budget over the next decade.

Air Force Secretary Michael Donley said last week that sequestration “will have an immediate and negative impact on Air Force readiness” because of reduced flying hours and scaled back operations. Cutbacks in the past have resulted in “a hollow force, one that looks good on paper but lacks the resources to adequately train, maintain or keep up with emerging technology.”

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and others in the Pentagon say the budget cuts will make it more difficult for the military to function as a first-rate fighting force.

Last year, the Air Force eliminated 30,000 positions and retired nearly 1,900 aircraft. According to Donley, the size of the Air Force will bottom out at 329,000, the smallest force since the service started in 1947.

The economy is bound to improve and all the cuts planned for Little Rock Air Force Base may never happen. There is also talk of budgeting in 36 more C-130s around the country. Perhaps the Jacksonville base could retain at least a dozen of them, especially if the Avionics Modernization Program is revived, which would keep hundreds of older C-130s flying for another generation. The AMP program costs $7 million per plane, which is a bargain, considering the new C-130Js cost about $65 million each.

The C-130Js are expensive, which is why the Air Force has been slow incoporating them into the cargo fleet. About a third of the 80 C-130s on base are Js, although a few more are on order.

As Donley pointed out last week, “The latest modernization of the C-130 fleet began in 1999, but at the current rate, only 42 percent will have been replaced with the new J-model by 2019 — 20 years later.”

Deep cuts will make the Air Force transport fleet less effective. That’s why Sen. Pryor and Rep. Griffin think such plans may be a bit hasty. Griffin says Congress should approve the proposed cuts, but if Washington runs out of money, that may be academic. In any event, each congressional delegation will then fight to defend its own military bases until the money runs out. “In the end, these are military decisions,” Pryor told us.

Still, Little Rock Air Force Base towers over most others in its record of accomplishment in wars and humanitarian efforts. It should be spared major cuts as the budget fight resumes in Washington.

TOP STORY >> Drummers march at bowl game

By JEFFREY SMITH 
Leader staff writer

North Pulaski High School band drummers Nathan Crews and Brandan Beard returned from a once-in-a-lifetime experience playing drums in front of a national audience at the football championship game in Miami.

The two seniors were part of the all-star invitational marching band that performed during halftime between Alabama and Notre Dame last week.

Crews said, “It was awesome. We went down there for seven days. Coming from 30 degrees to 80 degrees was quite a change.”

Beard said, “The weather was great. We were able to get away from the cold, freezing weather.”

The marching band had four days of eight-hour practices before performing on Jan. 7.

During the pregame ceremonies all-star band members held the large American flag during the national anthem. They then played in two different shows during halftime.

If you think they got to watch Alabama whip up on Notre Dame during the game, you are mistaken. Beard said after they held the flag, the band went from the stadium back to their buses. They waited until near the end of the second quarter, when they got their instruments ready and walked back into the stadium. After performing, it was back to buses to return to the motel.

Beard said they were able to see a little of the game before halftime as they stood behind the Alabama football team on the sidelines.

But they weren’t there to watch a football game, they were there to perform for the huge crowd.

Crews said the first song was performed by the 150 all-star band members. During the second song, another high school band of 50 members joined them.

Crews said, “It was crazy, about 80,000 people. It was a lot different than the 400 people tops at a North Pulaski home game. The stadium, hearing the roar; it was breathtaking going into the crowd.”

Beard said, “It was pretty awesome. A once-in-a-lifetime experience to perform in front of that many people. Breathtaking, walking into the stadium hearing the crowd roar as you’re performing. Them looking at you was really exciting,” Beard said.

Crews said the band members all had a positive attitude because they wanted to be there. The band directors were from Arizona State and Notre Dame. Since they direct college bands, they had high expectations for the high school students.

Beard said it was a little bit different from playing in the high school band. The all-star band had more experience and made more use of the time and progressing faster.

The drum line was twice the size of North Pulaski’s.

The college band directors put more responsibility on the students. They assumed and expected the students to know how to march and play the music.

Beard said, “I also got to meet the Notre Dame and Alabama marching bands as well, pretty awesome.”

He expects to be in a college drum line soon. He was able to see how a college band operates and get a feel for what is ahead for him.

Crews said, “The pep rally of both teams was crazy.”

He said it was on the beach with about 7,000 people for Notre Dame’s rally and around 500 to 1,000 people for Alabama’s rally.

Beard said, “It was pretty awesome, had a great time, met new people I’m still keeping in contact with; a great experience.”

Beard said the people made it a great time. He met a lot of people that he has a lot in common. They had to work as team to make it work.

Beard said, “Even the directors and instructors were understanding. They helped if we needed assistance and took the time to actually help us in order to make us as good and successful as we needed to be.”

Crews said, “I learned to accept each other as friends and to work with each other. I learned some new skills and techniques that I can further my (band) career with.”

Crews was appreciative for those who helped out with paying for the trip. Beard said, “Thank you for everyone’s donations and support.”

TOP STORY >> Wintery weather swoops in again

By JOAN McCOY
Leader staff writer

Tuesday’s wintry weather mix of light sleet, light snow and freezing rain turned out to be more of a hindrance than a danger.

Schools let out early Tues-day in most of The Leader’s coverage area as roads became slick. But Pulaski County Special School District decided to stay the full day after transportation officials contacted the National Weather Service which predicted an end to the worst of the weather by11:30 a.m. and mushy ice by the evening.

Lonoke schools closed at 11 a.m. while Beebe waited until 1:30 and Cabot held out until 2:30 p.m. Whether any would be open today was a question that had not been answered at press time. The answer was dependent on the weather.

Eddie Cook, director of operations for the city of Cabot, said street department crews started sanding bridges and overpasses when the sleet started falling and the roads were clear at midday except for Hwy. 5, which was becoming icy.

Jim Greer, head of Beebe’s street department, said the highway department sanded overpasses in town and that all the city streets were passable. They were getting slick at 1 p.m., he said. But the temperature came up a couple of degrees leaving only occasional patches of ice, no solid sheets.

Canceled evening meetings are common during bad winter weather, but at press time the commission that runs Cabot parks was still planning to meet. The commission was criticized late last year for its lackadaisical style and poor meeting attendance and has made a concerted effort to change its image.

On Tuesday, the commission was expected to choose a site for the baseball and water park that the city will build if voters approve an extension of the existing one-cent sales tax. Also on the agenda was the selection of an architect to design the estimated $15 million facility. The commission was expecting representatives from five companies interested in the project to attend the meeting.

Jim Oakley, Jacksonville’s public works director, said his crews were out mid-morning Tuesday spreading a sand and salt mixture on bridges and major intersections. “It warmed up a little after lunch and the sleet and ice turned to rain and washed most of the slush away,” Oakley explained. But then that water turned icy and Oakley had trucks back out at 6 p.m. sanding bridges. He also said that trucks would be out early Wednesday morning before rush hour and would sanding streets through the night.

“The police department keeps us updated on areas getting bad and we make sure we sand them,” Oakley said.

State offices will open two hours late today.

TOP STORY >> Area legislators hopeful

By JOHN HOFHEIMER 
Leader senior staff writer

Gov. Mike Beebe alluded mysteriously to the likelihood of one of the largest economic development announcements in the near future that the state has ever seen in his state of the state address Tuesday, then moved on without elaboration to more predictable fare.

Addressing the opening session of the 89th General Assembly, Beebe’s speech was well-stated and well-received, focusing on Medicaid, Medicaid expansion, education and also finishing the elimination of all but 1/8 percent on the grocery tax. He said until the state came up with new revenue—perhaps cessation of the $70 million a year state support of desegregation in Pulaski County school districts—it could not afford to eliminate the tax completely.

Beebe alluded to big economic news coming soon to Arkansas, but would say no more. He said his legislative agenda included joining an Intrastate Educational Compact, which would make it easier for students to change schools when their military parents are transferred to another state. Also included is a proposal that would allow the state to recognize licenses and certification from other states for military spouses who move to Arkansas. He has cited the examples of teachers and nurses.

Local lawmakers expressed hopes that both Republicans—who control both houses of the legislature for the first time—and Democrats can pull in tandem to address those issues facing the state.

“Nobody wants to throw nursing home patients out of their beds,” Beebe said, and the money spent on the $300 million Medicaid shortfall and more on the expansion would be an investment in the state.

“Expanding Medicaid can keep hospitals open and operational,” the governor said. “It can give 250,000 Arkansans the chance to lead healthier, more productive lives. It can ease uncompensated care and relieve the hidden tax that we all pay. It will create additional private-sector jobs. We just have to say yes.”

MORE THAN ‘YES’

“There’s a lot more to that conversation than ‘yes,’” said Dist. 28 Sen. Jonathan Dismang, R-Beebe. “We have to have assurances we can afford it in the future. There’s a lot of uncertainty on the federal level.”

Dismang said he had been gathering all the information he could about the cost of Medicaid and expanding it by 250,000 Arkansans. He wondered how that would overlay the budget. Would it cause future problems?

For those states that opt for Medicaid expansion, the federal government would pay all costs for the first three years with the state paying more until 2017, when gradually Arkansas’ share would top out at 10 percent.

Dismang’s committee assignments include the Senate Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee, the Arkansas Legislative Council and the Joint Budget Committee.

House Speaker Davy Carter, R-Cabot, has said he hopes to work closely with the governor, a Democrat, on the Medicaid issue, but he’s not ready to commit to the expansion. Carter, a banker who has resigned to devote full time to his speaker’s job, said he’s been studying the numbers and says he expects a number of vigorous debates on the Medicaid issues.

Carter said Tuesday he didn’t know if the Medicaid expansion would be a straight up or down vote or whether there could be a substitute bill.

He said so far the spirit of bipartisanship continues, but the first two days have been largely ceremonial.

“We’ve had probably 30 or 40 bills filed in the House and making their way through the committee process,” Carter said. “They should start showing up on the House calendar.”

WORKING POOR PROTECTION

“The governor delivered a very powerful address about the issues facing us and the need to address them in a bipartisan manner,” said Dist. 41 Rep. Jim Nickels, D- Sher-wood. “I think we can protect the working poor,” he said.

He said that after sounding out the leadership, including the House speaker and the Senate president pro-temp Michael Lamoureax, R-Russellville, there would be a spirit of cooperation.

Nickels said he had prefiled two bills—one to restore the 26th week of unemployment insurance taken away last session and the other to require that tax dollars be spent on American goods. He cited the example of a bridge built by then-California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, which used Chinese steel.

Of the unemployment insurance, Nickels said there was no shared sacrifice last time, when $68 million was taken out of the pockets of the unemployed “while those who laid them off paid nothing.”

Nickels is on the State Agencies and the Judiciary Committees and the Public Retirement and Social Security Committee as well as the Joint Budget Committee.

“The governor’s speech did well to address his priorities, including economic development and education, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act,” Dist. 42 Rep. Mark Perry, D-Jacksonville, said.

Perry, on the public health, insurance and commerce committees as well as the Joint Retirement and Social Security Committee, said he may propose tweaking legislation a little bit regarding chiropractors and police reports.

SHIFT MEDICAID COST

Of the Medicaid expansion, Perry said it would shift most of the cost to the federal government and would benefit those with private insurance, who are invisibly taxed by helping cover hospital bills from the poor and uninsured.

Dist. 29 Sen. Eddie Joe Williams, R-Cabot, is co-chairman of the State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee. In addition to the Medicaid and education questions, he said he’s interested in referring lawsuit reform and ethics-reform bills to the voters. He’d require the state Supreme Court and the Legislature to work closer on bills that relate to the judicial system.

“The first day was great, an exciting day with a lot of good feelings,” said Dist. 34 Sen. Jane English, R-North Little Rock. “I think we’re all going to be able to be working together.”

Of the Medicaid and Medicaid expansion questions, “I don’t think people have enough information to make a good decision yet,” she said. She predicted there would be a lot of people working “across the aisle.”

VETERANS HOME BILL

English has filed a bill to establish a task force on a veterans home. The task force will look at fixing the existing structure — physical and operational — and see if a new one needs be built, and if so, how to pay for it. The task force would work beginning in May and report its finding by November, she said. She said it’s important for veterans’ groups like the American Legion and Disabled American Veterans be involved in the task force.

She said the federal government would pay two-thirds of the construction, with the state paying the balance.

English’s committee assignments include co-chairman of the Joint Performance Review Committee and vice chairman of the Senate State Agencies and Govern-mental Affairs committee.

There are 40 new members in the House, English noted. “It’s going to be an interesting year,” she added.

Dist. 14 Rep. Walls McCrary, D-Lonoke, said he agreed with Beebe on his issues, which include the Medicaid and Medicaid expansion questions.

“I think we’ll have a pretty good battle over that. A lot of new members promised that were running against it,” he said.

Because it’s a revenue bill, it requires passage by 75 of the 100 votes in the House, he noted.

NUMBERS SELL MEDICAID

“I think Davy Carter will be a good speaker,” he said. “He’s bent over backward to be real inclusive.”

McCrary said Medicaid expansion would pass “if we have enough people who look the Medicaid situation based on the number — how it will help and what it will cost us if we don’t go along.”

“It’s just a question of ideology involved,” he added. “I don’t know how it’s going to play out.”

Dist. 38 Rep. Patti Julian, D-North Little Rock, said she likes the governor’s idea to finish lowering the grocery tax if other revenues become available — perhaps cessation of paying about $70 million in desegregation suit monies to the Pulaski County school districts.

At the request of the North Little Rock Animal Shelter, Julian may introduce a bill that has to do with animal licensure, with the intention of reducing the number of stray and abandoned pets and reducing the rate of euthanasia.

SPORTS STORY >> Jackrabbits get a crucial 4A-2 victory

By GRAHAM POWELL
Leader sportswriter

Lonoke jumped out to an early lead and withstood a late run by Heber Springs to win 61-51 Friday in a 4A-2 Conference matchup at the Lonoke High School gym.

The Jackrabbits came out with a lot of energy as it was the team’s first home game since Dec. 11. Lonoke (10-4, 4-1) used that energy to its advantage as the Jackrabbits started the game with an 8-0 scoring run.

Aaron Brown scored the first points for Heber Springs (10-5, 4-2) at the 2:04 mark of the opening quarter on a three pointer. Brown scored the rest of the Panthers’ points on a free throw and another three, but Lonoke added seven more points to the scoreboard to take a 15-7 lead at the end of the first.

“We shot it well tonight,” said Lonoke coach Dean Campbell. “I thought our effort was a lot better than the last two times we were at home against Dollarway and Southside (Batesville). I thought our kids played real well. I’m excited for them. It’s been since December 11th since we’ve played at home. So they were a little excited to finally get to play at home.”

Heber Springs settled into the game in the second quarter and outscored Lonoke 14-11 in that time to cut the ‘Rabbits’ lead to 26-21 at the break. Blake Mack kept the scoring alive for Lonoke in the quarter as he scored nine of the ‘Rabbits’ 11 points.

Brown and Judson Smith hit two big three pointers during the Panthers’ second quarter run that helped spark their offense. Heber Springs also hit their free throws in that time, going a perfect 6-for-6 at the line.

“They’re a really good team,” Campbell said of Heber Springs. “Coach Kyzer does a great job with them. They shoot the ball very well. There’s no doubt about that. We shot it well tonight as well.”

Lonoke had one of its better shooting performances of the season in the third quarter. The ‘Rabbits came out of the break hot as they opened the second half with an 8-0 scoring run led by senior guard Dra Offord, who drained two three pointers during the run. Offord’s second three put Lonoke back up double digits, leading 31-21.

Reid McKenzie put Lonoke up 41-29 with 3:04 to play in the quarter with a tough layup inside the lane. But from there, Heber Springs shot its way back into the game. The Panthers followed McKenzie’s basket with a 9-0 scoring run to cut the ‘Rabbits’ lead to 41-38, but Offord increased Lonoke’s lead to 44-38 on a baseline three pointer as the buzzer sounded.

“Dra Offord hit some really big shots for us and really stretched it out, which is what we needed,” Campbell said. “Dra shot it really well. He hadn’t been shooting it that well. He’d been hitting some. Blake Mack got to the rim several times in the second quarter – had nine (points) in that quarter. We still have to tie up the free throws down the stretch, but we hit enough.”

Lonoke outscored Heber Springs 17-13 in the final quarter. As the game wound down, the Panthers were forced to foul and hope the ‘Rabbits missed their free throws down the stretch. Jamel Rankin and Darrius McCall combined to make five free throws near the end of the game, and Caleb Bracey made one of two at the line with 18 seconds to play that set the final score.

The ’Rabbits outrebounded the Panthers 32-20 in the game. Lonoke was surprisingly the more efficient team at the three-point line, hitting 44 percent of its shots from downtown, bettering Heber Springs’ 37 percent. Campbell would like to see his team shoot better at the free-throw line as Lonoke made 56 percent of its free throws. Heber Springs shot 70 percent at the line.

Three different ‘Rabbits scored in double figures. Mack led the way with 19 points. Rankin finished with 14 points and Offord scored 12 points, all on three pointers.

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Panthers shut down Bombers

By JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

A single quarter of play was all visiting Mountain Home was able to muster as the Cabot Lady Panthers ran away with an easy-looking 47-25 victory over the Lady Bombers at Panther Arena on Friday in a pivotal 7A/6A East Conference game.

Senior point guard Jaylin Bridges enjoyed one of her best shooting nights all season with a game-high 23 points while Elliot Taylor turned in a strong overall performance with 10 points, five steals, four rebounds and four blocked shots.

Cabot blasted its foe from the outside with a 6-for-12 performance behind the three-point line, primarily off the hands of Bridges, who connected from long distance four times while Taylor and classmate Ally Van Enk each added a trey in the first half.

Cabot shot 16 of 37 overall for 43 percent from the floor while holding the Lady Bombers to a minimal 10 of 25 for 40 percent.

“We really played well,” Lady Panthers assistant coach Charles Ruple said. “Abbey Allgood and Elliot just did a super job on their post player. They stepped up. Jaylin played super, offensively and defensively, running what we wanted to run. They were very focused.”

Cabot (9-4, 2-1) lost the rebounding battle to the Lady Bombers (7-2, 2-1) by a total of 22-14, but took much better care of the ball with 10 turnovers to Mountain Home’s 19 giveaways. Many of those came as a result of the Lady Panthers’ full-court pressing attack that basically set Taylor up like a kid in a candy shop just past midcourt. Taylor also played strong in the paint, showing dominance early with a block and rebound on the defensive end that she ended up converting on the other side of the court with a basket and free throw to give Cabot a 14-11 lead at the five-minute mark of the second quarter.

Bridges answered back-to-back three pointers from Mountain Home in the opening minutes with a trey at the 2:53 mark of the first quarter, but she was just warming up. Bridges hit from the outside again to start the second period, giving the Lady Panthers an 11-8 lead. She made two more in the third quarter, including her last one with 1:23 left in the quarter for a 33-19 lead.

The only thing that did not go Cabot’s way was a technical foul called against Ruple with 5:31 left to play following a nice transition basket by Danielle McWilliams that was set up with a steal by Taylor for a commanding 37-21 lead. The longtime Lady Panthers assistant was able to laugh about the situation following the game.

“There’s six occasions when everyone on the bench, players, coaches, managers, can stand up, and one of them is when there is a good play on the floor,” Ruple said. “He told me to sit down, I said, ‘kiss my foot,’ which I say a lot in my psychology class. He reacted like he thought I may have said something else.”

Van Enk added nine points and five rebounds. Bridges also put up big defensive numbers with four steals while Allgood had three steals. McWilliams finished with six points and junior guard Ryan Wilson had four points, all of which came in the final minute.

The Lady Panthers will be on the road Friday against West Memphis.

SPORTS TORY >> Devils dominate at Falcon’s Nest

By RAY BENTON 
Leader sports editor

Most probably expected Jacksonville to beat rival North Pulaski Friday. None likely expected a 30-point blowout, but that’s what happened as the Red Devils went into the Falcon’s Nest and dominated their host 66-36 to stay undefeated in conference play.

Jacksonville coach Vic Joyner was as surprised as anyone that his team controlled the game the way it did.

“No I did not expect that,” Joyner said. “We worked on some new things to spread things out and create more space. That’s helped with our turnovers. We took care of the ball after the first quarter and we moved the ball well on offense. We moved the ball around and got open looks inside. We just executed well and ended up with a 30-point lead.”

The Red Devils threatened to run away with it right out of the gate. Junior Sergio Berkley scored five-straight points to give Jacksonville a 16-5 lead with 45 seconds left in the first quarter, but Joe Aikens came up with two steals and two assists to close the quarter. The first went to sophomore Steven Farrior who converted a three-point play. On the next possession, Aikens hit Aaren Scruggs for a shot at the buzzer to make it 16-10.

The second quarter is when Jacksonville began to dominate inside. Senior forward Kahleel Hart scored nine points in the second to match Berkley’s nine in the first. That created some space outside and sophomore Kerry Knight drained his first three-point attempt to give the Red Devils a 32-16 lead. Aikens scored six points early in the quarter, but it was all the points the Falcons could produce the entire period.

Berkley scored his last two points in the final minute of the frame to give Jacksonville a 34-16 lead at the break.

Jacksonville post player Brandon Brockman became the nine-point man in the third quarter as the Red Devils began feeding him inside. Hart scored six more and point guard Justin McCleary even posted up for two points as the Red Devils stretched the lead to as much as 29 in the third, thanks in part to a technical foul on Jackson for arguing a foul call on Farrior in the back court.

Senior Aaron Smith hit two free throws with 7:01 left in the game to make it 62-31 and enact the continuous mercy-rule clock.

Hart led Jacksonville (10-3, 3-0) with 17 points. Berkley scored 11, as did McCleary, who also finished with game highs of nine rebounds and seven assists.

Jacksonville dominated the boards with a 28-19 rebounding advantage. They also made 13 more free throws, hitting 18 of 29 from the foul line while North Pulaski (7-7, 1-2) made just 5 of 9.

The Red Devils game with McClellan on Tuesday canceled. They will play at Helena-West Helena Central on Friday.

North Pulaski’s game with Mills on Tuesday was also canceled. The Falcons travel to Little Rock Christian Academy on Friday.

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot gathers itself to get win

By JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

What the game lacked in overall scoring it made up for with what turned out to be a physical and, at times, touchy battle as Cabot overtook Mountain Home early in the fourth quarter and went on to win 42-34 at Panther Arena on Friday in what amounted to a do-or-die 7A/6A East Conference victory for the Panthers.

Cabot dug a 16-9 hole in the first half of the bumpy defensive struggle, but came back late in the third quarter to erase what became a 12-point deficit until Panther guard Jake Ferguson came away with a pair of key steals he converted into transition points, as well as a three-point basket to start the fourth quarter and another inside shot with 5:40 left to play that cut the Bombers’ lead to 26-25.

But in between Ferguson’s comeback-leading shots in the fourth was an ugly incident in which Cabot reserve post player Adolpho Iglesias and Mountain Home center Jack Schmitt came to blows under the Cabot goal with just over six minutes remaining. The officials ejected Iglesias and called a personal foul on Schmitt, which paired with the double technical called against the two gave him five personals and a seat on the bench with a close 26-23 score.

“I thought Jake Ferguson did a great job sparking us tonight,” Panthers coach Jerry Bridges said. “And I think once he got us going, it turned into a team effort. I thought Kyle (Thielemier) hit some big threes, Michael Smith stepped up there and made some big free throws. We needed that, it was a big win for us.”

The Panthers (5-8, 1-2) struggled from the floor most of the game, going 10 for 31 for 32 percent, but made up for much of it by hitting 6 of 12 attempts from behind the three-point line. The Bombers (3-7, 1-2) were more efficient at 12 for 23 from the floor for 52 percent including 6 of 9 three-point attempts for 67 percent.

Mountain Home appeared to be on the way to a one-sided victory early in the second quarter as guard Buck Gilbert put the Bombers up 14-3 at the 6:55 mark with a three-point basket. The gap widened through the early part of the second half as The Bombers went up 26-14 with 3:20 left in the period following two free throws by Skylar Culver.

Cabot went to a press defense late in the third and started to find momentum. Ferguson’s three with 7:23 remaining put momentum fully on Cabot’s side, but Iglesias’s skirmish with Schmitt shortly after that turned a game filled with subtle jostles into somewhat of a grudge match down the stretch. Iglesias had to sit out last night’s game at Little Rock Central due to the ejection.

“They just get tied up, and I think (Schmitt) tried to swing at him,” Bridges said. “A.I. retaliated back, but they didn’t see the swing. He feels bad about it, I mean, he just got caught up in the moment at the time. It’s going to hurt us not having him Tuesday.”

Senior Clayton Vaught pulled Cabot even with the Bombers with a three pointer that made it 28-28 at the 4:32 mark, and Thielemier completed the comeback with a three to give The Panthers a 31-28 lead with 3:26 left to play. The Panthers protected their lead late by hitting 7 of 8 free throws in the final minute, including four straight for Thielemier inside 35 seconds.

Thielemier led the Panthers with 12 points and five rebounds, all of which came in the second half. Ferguson added 10 points and four steals while Vaught finished with 10 points and four rebounds.

For Mountain Home, Gilbert led with 14 points and five rebounds.

Cabot will play at West Memphis on Friday.

SPORTS STORY >> Beebe halts Lady Rams’ streak

By JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

A capacity crowd and two close, dramatic wins in favor of the home teams made it a thrilling night for Badger fans as Beebe swept Paragould in two 5A East Conference games at Badger Sports Arena on Friday.

The Lady Rams’ 25-game winning streak in the 5A East that began nearly two years ago came to an end at the hands of the Lady Badgers in a huge 44-40 victory, while the Badgers pulled out the win on a final-second shot by Tanner Chapman to keep the Beebe boys’ team unbeaten in conference play after three games.

The Lady Badgers (12-5, 3-0) came back from a 28-24 halftime deficit, taking the lead early in the second half on the strength of their 83 percent (15 for 18) shooting from the free-throw line as senior guard Jamie Jackson led the way with 25 points and six rebounds with 17 points and three boards for junior Kalela Miller.

“We came out strong in the second half, and once we got the lead, we were able to dictate what we wanted to do,” second-year Lady Badgers coach Greg Richey said. “We had a good second half. We knew we had to beat them at home, and we knew it was going to be tough. I give credit to the girls with the win.”

Beebe built a lead as high as eight early in the fourth quarter and prevented the Lady Rams (10-4, 2-1) from coming back with a strong performance at the foul line. Richey also complimented his team on its defensive performance against a normally unstoppable Paragould offensive attack. The Lady Badgers held their guest to44 percent from the floor and only 11 points for Lady Rams standout Sydney Layrock.

“I thought our whole team played well,” Richey said. “Everyone played their role, and everyone played outstanding defense.”

Last year’s home game against Paragould ended in heartbreaking fashion as the Lady Rams stole a 33-31 victory on a last-second shot by Layrock.

“It was something the seniors really wanted,” Richey said. “This is one of the goals they set at the beginning of the season was to beat Paragould. To know that we could do it was a relief to them.”

Richey also extended praise to the home crowd, which always turns out in large numbers, and has a penchant for rattling visitors during big conference matchups.

“We had great support from our fans,” Richey said. “They were full in the stands and full in the student section. Anytime you have that kind of support, it gives you that extra adrenaline. I think the fans were key in us winning.”

The boys’ matchup took the same tone as the girls’ game before it as the Badgers rallied from a 28-23 deficit at the break to win 50-49 in heart-stopping fashion, with Chapman knocking down the winning shot in the final five seconds.

Beebe (11-4, 3-0) carried a 36-34 lead into the last period, but the visiting Rams (8-3, 2-1) outshot the Badgers 54 percent to 46 percent to keep it close the entire way.

Senior forward Austin Burroughs led the Badgers with 20 points and four rebounds while junior post player Zach Baker added 12 points and a game-high seven rebounds. Chapman finished with seven points. Beebe outrebounded Paragould 21-14.

Beebe’s scheduled home games against Forrest City on Tuesday were canceled until further notice. The Badgers will rival host Greene County Tech on Friday at Badger Arena.