Friday, February 08, 2013

TOP STORY >> Special prosecutor considers charges

Leader staff writer

Criminal charges could be filed by March 4 against the Ward man who admits to shooting and killing his employee, Ernest Hoskins Jr., at his home on Nov. 9.

Jack McQuary, the special prosecutor appointed at the end of January, said he got the case file this week and has not reviewed it yet. He also needs to interview the witnesses and talk to the victim’s wife, he said.

But McQuary said he foresees no deterrent to deciding if charges should be filed by the March 4 hearing date, which was set on Monday, when he told the court he would take the case.

Lonoke County Prosecutor Chuck Graham said in late November that he expected to file charges of first-degree murder and aggravated assault charges against Christopher Reynolds, 34, for killing Hoskins, 21, of North Little Rock.

But by that time, Hoskins’ family had hired an attorney who was asking what the holdup was in arresting Reynolds and questioning whether the delay was because Hoskins was black and Reynolds is white.

Reynolds, who is represented by attorney Hubert Alexander of Jacksonville, has been free on a $100,000 bond since he was arrested on Nov. 24.

Graham said this week that in asking for a special prosecutor, he considered the speculation surrounding the case such as why Reynolds was detained but not arrested on the day of the shooting.

But race, Graham has maintained from the beginning, is never something he considers when prosecuting cases.

“I don’t care what color people are. We just do our job,” Graham said after Reynolds was arrested following an investigation by the State Police. “I didn’t know the victim was black until the NAACP called me.”

Graham said he asked for a special prosecutor in the case because it was clear that Hoskins family wasn’t comfortable with him, and he didn’t want to make their loss any harder.

“They’ve lost a family member,” he said. “I can’t imagine how hard that must be.”

Requests for special prosecutors go to the state Office of the Prosecutor Coordinator. Sometimes cases are assigned to elected prosecutors from other judicial districts. But the Reynolds case was given to McQuary, the only special prosecutor who works directly for the state Office of the Prosecutor Coordinator.

Graham said he had no preferences.

“At least it won’t be someone here in Lonoke County,” he said.

Reynolds admitted to killing Hoskins. But he said he was attempting to decock the .44-magnum pistol he had been holding on Hoskins when the gun discharged and shot him in the head.

During the two weeks between the shooting and Reynolds’ arrest, the Hoskins family retained Ben Crump, the attorney for the family of Trayvon Martin, the black teenager who was shot to death 13 months ago by George Zimmerman as he walked through a multi-ethnic gated community in Sanford, Fla.

Crump’s law firm specializes in wrongful death, malpractice, personal injury and civil rights cases.

The Hoskins’ case has received much media attention since Crump was hired.

Special Agent David R. Moss with the Arkansas State Police interviewed Reynolds at Ward Police Department the evening Hoskins was killed and wrote this statement that Reynolds signed according the affidavit for his arrest:

“On Nov. 9, 2012, at approximately 2 p.m., I was conducting a meeting at my house for my business. My business reduces gas mileage on vehicles. Rachel Watson, Brian Washington, Melissa Peoples and Ernest Hoskins were at my house for the meeting. All four are my employees. I was discussing with Ernest why his sales figures for the week were so low. He had lower figures than Melissa and Rachel. Ernest told me that I needed to get off my couch and work as well. We were bantering back and forth. I picked up a Desert Eagle .44 magnum pistol from behind me. I pointed the pistol at Ernest’s head and we were bantering for approximately one minute. I pulled the trigger and the gun did not go off. I then pulled the slide back and a round went into the chamber. I tried to de-cock the hammer on the pistol by pulling the trigger and holding the hammer and it moved forward. The gun then went off and struck Ernest in the face. I put the gun back up and called 911. I have had weapons and firearms training while I was enlisted in the U.S. Air Force.”

McQuary has worked for the Office of the Prosecutor Coordinator for about eight years. He was one of two special prosecutors from the Office of the Prosecutor Coordinator for the 2007 West Memphis case involving a 12-year-old black boy who was killed by a white, West Memphis police officer. A toy gun was found near the boy’s body. The officer said he thought it was real. Criminal charges were not filed against the officer in that case. And in 2011, the boy’s family lost its federal lawsuit for $250 million.

TOP STORY >> Chamber honors seven

Leader staff writer

The Sherwood Chamber of Commerce honored six people and one business at its annual banquet Thursday night at the Sherwood Forest complex.

More than 200 people attended the dinner and applauded as the educator, firefighter, EMT, police officer, man and woman of the year were announced and introduced along with the business of the year.

The Man of the Year honor went to Don Hughes. Marcia Cook, the chamber’s executive director, said Hughes sincerely cares about Sherwood and puts his love for the city into action.

“You can find him out Monday through Friday doing something for the community. It might be delivering food to those in need, setting up doctor’s appointments, picking up trash or distributing coats,” Cook said.

A retired Air Force veteran, Hughes is a founding member of the Gravel Ridge Lion’s Club and very active in the Keep Sherwood Beautiful organization.

The Woman of the Year award went to Dawn Darter, the golf pro at the city-operated golf course, The Greens. She was honored for outstanding work and efforts to promote the golf course and work with young golfers.

Darter first pick up clubs as a six-year-old on the same golf course she now works at, went to college on a golf scholarship, turned pro, worked with young golfers across the country and state, and returned home when the city took control of the golf course.

The firefighter and EMT of the year were honored for their outstanding actions at the same event.

The Firefighter of the Year honor went to Sherwood Fire Chief David Teague and the EMT award went to paramedic Matt Davis.

On Aug. 27, Chief Teague was attending a very crowded council meeting where an older man passionately pleaded with the council over an issue and then sat down.

A minute later, he had slumped to the floor in full cardiac arrest. The chief, along with a nurse in the crowd, rushed to give aid, including CPR, and called for the paramedics. As soon as a police officer arrived with a portable defibrillator, the chief used it to shock the patient twice.

By the time the ambulance arrived, just a few short minutes later, the individual was alert and talking.

In the ambulance was Davis, who had just earned his paramedic license a week earlier. Davis, a 16-year veteran of the Army National Guard, had already alerted the hospital in advance and immediately hooked up a 12-lead EKG machine to the patient. The readings helped determine that there was no time to spare. He needed to go to the cath lab immediately.

Cook said, “Because of Chief Teague and Matt Davis the patient survived and has resumed a normal quality of life.”

The Educator of the Year award went to Abundant Life High School English teacher Lori Williford.

In presenting the award, Judge Butch Hale said in the 13 years that Williford has been at the school her students have consistently scored well above the ACT average and won numerous poetry awards.

“The number of her students taking AP classes for college credit is far above the state average,” Hale said.

Williford is also the producer of the school’s plays and is active in numerous community projects.

Berny Russell, who has been a Sherwood police officer since 1988, took the top cop award. Hale said Russell has the ability to do any job the department asks her to do and can be seen everywhere in Sherwood.

She runs the drug take back program, the Fourth of July program and polices the Trail of Lights for the city. Hale said she is a mentor and participates in Cops for Kids and the Sherwood Police academy.

“She is involved in so many Sherwood organizations, it’s hard to keep track,” Hale said.

The Business of the Year award went to a relative newcomer to the city, BJ’s Plants and Produce.

The longtime family-owned area business opened up a shop in Sherwood and instantly became involved with community activities, particularly the Farmer’s Market.

According to Cook, the business believes that to be part of the community you can’t just run the cash register during the day and then go home.

The guest speaker for the evening was Mark Wilcken, a producer for AETN.

At the end of the evening, outgoing chamber president Steve Cobb passed the gavel to the incoming chamber leader, Jessica Rodgers.


Leader staff writer

The nearly 50 participants in Thursday’s earthquake drill at the Lonoke County Department of Emergency Management learned that the amount of resources needed during and after disasters can be overwhelming.

Drill participants were told a 9:30 a.m. 6.0-magnitude earthquake just north of Marked Tree had slightly damaged five miles of Lewisburg Road in Austin and county residents felt it as if it were a mild quake. A 6.0-magnitude earthquake would cause bells to ring and tall objects to topple.

The emergency operation center was up and running at 10 a.m. for the earthquake response exercise.

The drill was held at the department, 200 N. Center St. in Lonoke. It was part of the national level exercise for earthquake preparedness that occurs every two years.

According to Kathy Zasimovich, the county’s emergency services coordinator, the goal of the drill is to impress upon people the importance of being prepared for a disaster, like an earthquake. Being prepared means knowing what resources will be there to help, she said.

Zasimovich explained that Lonoke County has mutual aid agreements with all counties surrounding its borders. She said if there is a resource that the county or its mutual aid partners do not have or cannot supply, her department would coordinate with the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management to obtain that resource.

One of the speakers at Thursday’s drill was David Johnston of the Arkansas Geological Survey. As he loaded his PowerPoint presentation, Zasimovich asked if anyone in the room had experienced an earthquake firsthand. She said she was a fifth-grader in Washington state when one struck as she was walking outside.

Zasimovich said, “The roads rolled. Talk about being scary.”

Thursday’s fake quake was in the New Madrid fault system, which extends 120 miles southward from Charleston, Mo., and Cairo, Ill., following I-55 to Blytheville and Marked Tree. It crosses five state lines and cuts across the Mississippi River in three places and the Ohio River in two places.

Johnston said the New Madrid zone is one of the most hazardous earthquake areas in the United States. He said, “It’s the New Madrid that is our primary concern in Arkansas.”

The last catastrophic seismic event in Arkansas occurred in 1811 and 1812 when three earthquakes with magnitudes between 7.4 and 8.0 occurred. At those magnitudes, structures are damaged or collapse. There is a 7 to 10 percent chance that will happen again in the next 50 years, Johnston said.

There is a 25 to 40 percent chance that Arkansas will experience an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.0 or greater.

The 1811 and 1812 earthquakes struck on Dec. 16, 1811, Jan. 23, 1812, and Feb. 7, 1812. Johnston said, “The shaking continued for months.”

According to him, there were 97 earthquakes in Arkansas last year. Of those, people only felt 15. As of Feb. 6, there had been four earthquakes this year. People only felt one of them.

Johnston added that even though places east of the Rocky Mountains, like Arkansas, have fewer earthquakes, the earthquakes are felt over a broader area because the soil is warm, soft and broken up rather than hard and cold.

Although earthquakes are usually along fault lines like the New Madrid, where tectonic plates meet, they can happen in the middle of a plate too. Those are called intraplate quakes, he said.

Johnston described how two of the four types of seismic waves help professionals give the public an early warning that an earthquake is coming.

A p-wave arrives in an area first and an s-wave arrives next, he explained. Johnston said the delay between the two allows people to prepare for an earthquake, even if the warning can be issued only 15 to 20 seconds before the earthquake occurs.

For example, he said, a train traveling at 100 mph could slow down to 40 mph before the quake strikes. That could save lives and prevent more extensive damage, Johnston said.

Johnston added that in 2010, Gov. Mike Beebe appropriated funds for six permanent seismic activity-monitoring stations. Those stations will help professionals issue those early warnings, determine the magnitude of the earthquake and find out more information about what happened.

Earthquakes can cause riverbanks to collapse, land to subside, landslides and liquefaction, he said.

Liquefaction, which is usually caused by an earthquake of magnitude 6 or higher, is when shallow water-saturated sandy soils turn to liquid. The soil loses its bearing strength and behaves like a viscous liquid.

Liquefaction can cause buildings to sink into the ground or tilt, slope failures, surface subsidence, ground cracking and sand blows.

For liquefaction to happen the sand normally must be loose and less than 30-feet below the ground surface, although it has happened to soil that was 50 feet below the surface, Johnston said. Sand blows are formed when the sand erupts to the ground surface through fissures.

But the possibility of that happening in Lonoke County is slim because ground water is much deeper. That is because agricultural and other uses have depleted the ground water that was close to the surface.

Another resource the county can rely on is the Central Arkansas Task Force 1 Urban Search and Rescue. Task force leader Andy Traffenstadt said urban search and rescue is an area of emergency response the state once needed to improve.

His team is helping officials do that.

Traffenstadt explained that the term “urban” doesn’t just apply to a densely populated area. He said, “It’s anywhere that has a masonry building.”

Traffenstadt said the 100-member task force was started two years ago and has deployed twice. On May 16, 2011, the team responded to Morrilton when a building collapsed and one person was killed.

On Jan. 13, 2012, the team helped retrieve the body of Jacques Parker, 56, of Carlisle when he fell into a grain bin on Miller Road in Lonoke County.

The members of the task force are firefighters from nine departments because, Traffenstadt said, he didn’t want to leave any one department shorthanded.

Traffenstadt said task force members with more advanced training could be assembled in two hours while the entire force would be ready in four hours.

“There is a tremendous amount of training involved,” he said about all of the members. The group is also self-supporting when they arrive at an emergency, Traffenstadt added.

John Huett of the Lonoke County Swift Water Rescue also spoke. He told drill participants the role of his team is, “If anybody gets into any kind of flooding incident our task is to go there and pick them up out of the water.”

Adrian Clark of the Arkansas Geographic Information Office shared a video with the drill participants. The video was about the Geospatial Revolution Project, “an integrated public service media and outreach initiative about the world of digital mapping and how it is changing the way we think, behave and interact,” according to the project’s website at

Clark then used a program to show how many houses were within a half-mile of Lewisburg Road. The program, supplemented by information from the county assessor’s office, also told him the value of the houses. “It’s a great big world out there with a lot of great tools,” Clark emphasized.

Carlisle Police Chief Eric Frank, who serves as the Lions Club International Regional Disaster director, said the club could provide up to $20,000 within 24 hours of an earthquake. The money would be used to buy immediate necessities like blankets.

Frank said the club could contribute more money within 72 hours of a disaster.

Charles Ray, coordinator of Baptist’s U.S. Disaster Response, said what his group does to provide emotional support, especially for first responders.

Ray said his is one of 53 nonprofits in the National Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters. He explained, “A VOAD member is not bound by bureaucracy. VOAD becomes one of the most powerful tools you’ll have in the county (during a disaster).

Ray continued, “We can come in and help put you back together in a crisis. That’s what we’re supposed to do. And it’s free, of course.”

He added, “You need to be debriefed and helped if you are in the field for an hour or more.”

Ray explained that first responders might also have a difficult time giving 100 percent to their jobs because they could be personally impacted by the disaster.

He described how first responders who were helping in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina had lost family members and their homes to the storm.

“(Victims) hit a wall later. (first responders) hit a wall much quicker. If you add that their family might be affected, that’s a dynamite situation. Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help,” Ray said.

Another important aspect of emergency response is communications. Case Irwin of Motorola said the company would know immediately if its towers are damaged. “We’ll do whatever it takes to restore your communications at any time, “ he said.

During an emergency like an earthquake, Lonoke County would rely on amateur radio, a mobile satellite radio, cell phones and landline phones.Zasimovich said, “If you don’t have a backup system to communicate, you’re in trouble.”

Kathy Wright, the director of the state’s Homeland Security Grants Program, spoke last. she said the equipment that would be used after a terroristic attack would also be used after a natural disaster, like an earthquake.

But, Wright said, “the money isn’t what it used to be.”

That means her budget has to maintain existing programs instead of starting new programs.

Increased regulations require those programs be able to send resources nationwide and engage in multi-jurisdictional collaboration. Lonoke County demonstrated its ability to do just that with the drill.

SPORTS STORY >> Jacksonville gets sweep of city rival

Leader sportswriter

Solid defensive play, especially in the first half, helped Jacksonville coast to a 58-34 victory over North Pulaski in Tuesday’s 5A Central Conference matchup at the Devil’s Den.

Sergio Berkley and Khaleel Hart scored the first six points of the game on jump shots to give Jacksonville (17-4, 9-1) a quick 6-0 lead. North Pulaski (9-11, 3-6) cut it to one after Daniel Drone, Fred Thomas and Andrew Wilson combined to score the next five points, but the Red Devils closed the quarter with an 8-0 run to lead 14-5 after a quarter of play.

The Red Devils’ run continued into the second quarter as they scored the next 11 points to lead 25-5. North Pulaski could only manage two field goals in the quarter while Jacksonville racked up 18 points to take a commanding 32-9 lead at halftime.

“We’ve been working on defense,” said Jacksonville coach Victor Joyner. “Since the Mills game, it really made them realize that defense has to come first. If you notice our point totals are down since the Mills game, but our defensive statistics are better.”

Jacksonville gave up just three field goals in the first half, and contested every shot from the perimeter throughout the game. North Pulaski rarely had an open look from three-point range, and as a result, the Falcons were 0 for 11 from beyond the arc.

North Pulaski coach Roy Jackson, who was a longtime assistant at Jacksonville before becoming the head Falcon, is all too familiar with the Red Devil tradition, and knew his team had to play near-perfect in order to keep pace with the No. 2 team in class 5A.

“We just wanted to play good, solid defense and try and take away some of their strength,” said Jackson. “They came out and shot the ball well and played really excellent defense. We had trouble scoring. I had a couple of kids out. My leading scorer (RaShawn Langston), he’s out sick, and another one of my starting guards (Eric Mouton) is out sick. That makes it tough on us, but there’s no excuses.

“Our other kids have to step up to the plate. My hats off to the Red Devils, coach Joyner and his staff. They do a wonderful job. This is a tough place to win. I knew it was going to be tough on us, but we have to keep working.”

Jacksonville narrowly outscored North Pulaski 12-11 in the third quarter to lead 44-20 heading into the final frame. Each team used several different rotations in the fourth quarter with the game out of reach, and the Falcons had their best scoring quarter as Joe Aikens, Steven Farrior and Jarod Craven combined to score 14 points.

However, it didn’t put much of a dent in the margin as Jacksonville racked up 13 points. The final bucket of the game was a wide-open, two-handed slam by Keith Charleston with seconds to play, that was the result of a North Pulaski turnover.

“You know if you’re running a mile and you’re leading by a lap, then you relax for a minute. And when they pull up to you and you see them coming, you take off again. That’s kind of what they did,” Joyner said describing his team’s play. “They didn’t box out as much down the stretch, but defensively, I think we’re doing a little bit better job than what we’ve been doing.”

Each team grabbed a total of 29 rebounds in the game. North Pulaski committed 18 turnovers, seven more than Jacksonville’s 11. The Red Devils were 17 for 26 at the free-throw line for 65 percent. The Falcons were slightly more efficient, making 10 of 15 shots for 67 percent.

Jacksonville’s defense at the perimeter made it difficult for North Pulaski to get any good looks. On the other end, the Red Devils made 4 of 11 attempts from the three-point line for 36 percent.

Justin McCleary led all scorers with 15 points. Berkley and Aaron Smith each scored nine for Jacksonville. Aikens led the Falcons with 10 points. Craven, Farrior and Thomas added six points apiece.

Jacksonville played at Little Rock McClellan yesterday after deadlines in a game that decided first place in the 5A Central. Look for details of that game in Wednesday’s edition of The Leader. The Red Devils play again Tuesday against Helena-West Helena Central at home.

North Pulaski played at Mills yesterday after deadlines and will host Little Rock Christian on Tuesday.

SPORTS STORY >> Tenpenny stays true

Leader sportswriter

In the middle of the three scorers’ tables lined up consecutively in the center of the court at Wildcat Arena Wednesday morning rested a nameplate that brought a bit of disgust to college football fans in the area.

It simply read “Alabama.”

That’s where North Little Rock senior running back Altee Tenpenny was to take his place among six other Wildcat teammates for National Signing Day following an interview session in which he faced nearly every sports reporter and recruiting groupie in central Arkansas from television, print and Web.

The fact that Tenpenny decided not to stay in Arkansas may have left a bad taste in the mouths of some local fans, but that element did not put any kind of damper on the big day as classmates, as well as other members of the community, filled up the lower level of the home side to watch the signings take place. The day was not just about Tenpenny, however, as six of his classmates also got their chance to sign their Letters of Intent. Gary Vines, Kaylon Daniels and Rodney Bryson all committed to Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, Kenny Howard and Javian Williams both signed on to become part of the Coffeyville, Kan. Community College Red Ravens football program and Gerald Watson to Ouachita Baptist University.

There was speculation in the days leading up to the signing that Tenpenny, who is listed as a four-star recruit by most outlets, might possibly have a change of heart and stay in state to become an Arkansas Razorback. But Tenpenny blasted those hopes out of the water late Tuesday with a message on social media confirming his commitment to the defending BCS champs.

The hiring of new Hogs coach Bret Bielema on Dec. 4 changed the landscape in the final stages of the annual football-recruiting frenzy, a series of events that included the new Razorback staff getting a foot in the door at the Tenpenny residence. Reports varied on the NLR senior’s level of interest with the U of A, including a visit to Bud Walton Arena, where he led the crowd in calling the Hogs during a Razorback basketball game.

Bielema and staff kept in steady contact with Wildcats football coach Brad Bolding during the process, and held out hope until the clock hit 8:30 on Wednesday morning.

“You’ve got to comment on coach Bielema and their staff,” Bolding said. “I’ve gotten to know all of those guys really well. They did an incredible job of recruiting him, in a month. If you look at the time period they had versus Alabama, they had a month versus about a year and a half.”

Some believed and hoped that Bielema’s penchant for running the football and record of success as head coach at Wisconsin, along with the overwhelming number of elite-level running backs matriculating to the Crimson Tide program, might sway Tenpenny into staying closer to home, a proposition that looked at times as if it might possibly come to pass.

“They really closed some ground in that month,” Bolding said. “You’ve got to give hats off to them. It says a lot about a teenager to have the kind of loyalty this kid has. You see these kids all around the country flip flopping and going in all different kinds of directions. He said where he was going from day one. He stuck to his commitment, and you’ve really got to appreciate that in a teenager.”

Tenpenny and his teammates came out just after 8:40 a.m. to a roaring ovation, as Bolding stood near the home side of the court and addressed the crowd. He went through a brief summarization of each of the seven players’ journeys to reach the next level, including Tenpenny. Bolding noted that while his star running back’s choice may not have been the most popular one in the state of Arkansas, it was still one he stayed with through numerous other temptations.

With his future bright and a loaded Wildcats team that was just as effective as a passing unit offensively, Tenpenny was used sparingly for the most part during his senior season in a number of easy blowout victories for North Little Rock in 2012. He was still able to pick up 1,008 yards on 93 carries and 16 touchdowns, with an average of 10.84 yards per carry.

The Wildcats went 7-0 in 7A/6A East Conference play and finished up 10-2 overall.

“I think it says a lot about our community and our school,” Bolding said of having seven signees. “I’m really excited about the direction our program is going. We feel like we’re in the elite status of high-school football in Arkansas. We’ve got guys like Altee and the rest of these guys who are signing coming up, and it sounds a little bit cocky, but we don’t look at rebuilding, we look at trying to reload.”

Tenpenny answered the onslaught of questions prior to the signing with the poise of a seasoned celebrity, including one regarding the transition from a fun child’s game to a major endeavor.

“You’ve got to keep the fun in it,” Tenpenny said. “It’s hard to do; I’m not going to lie. Waking up at six in the morning, you’re not going to like it. Running sprints, you’re not going to like it. Lifting weights when your body hurts, having your coach yelling at you to keep pushing, I mean, you’re not going to like it. But you’ve got to remember why you’re doing this. If you love the game, then there’s nothing to it.”

SPORTS STORY >> Bears, Devils play today

Leader sports editor

The Sylvan Hills freshmen boys team became the third local team to advance to the semifinal round of the River City Conference tournament that’s being hosted by Jacksonville High School. The Bears beat Pulaski Academy 51-48 on Thursday to join the Lady Bears and the hosting Red Devils in today’s semifinal round.

Sylvan Hills had to hold off a furious rally from the No. 6seed Bruins to advance on Thursday.

Each of the last two quarters were a mirror image of each other. The Bears led 24-16 at halftime and pushed that lead to as much as 30-18 with a hot start in the third quarter. But Pulaski Academy rallied late to pull within 34-29 by the end of the period.

That momentum did not carry over into the fourth. Sylvan Hills went with pressure to start the final frame and the Bruins couldn’t handle it. The Bears got steal after steal, and with 2:55 remaining in the game, led 46-30.

That’s usually a comfortable margin with less than three minutes to go, but the Bruins didn’t quit. They began to foul and finally started hitting three pointers.

Pulaski Academy was not shy about launching long-range shots.

The Bruins put up 22 of them before finally hitting one with 1:50 left in the game on their 23rd attempt. They would hit three more in that final 1:50, but the rally was too late.

The last one came at the buzzer to set the final margin.

The third-quarter comeback came at the free-throw line for Pulaski Academy. The Bruins got its lone basket of the third quarter in the first minute.

Sylvan Hills stretched its lead to 12 with penetration buckets by point guard Samuel Williams, but Williams also began to struggle with turnovers, which helped lead to the Bruins’ third-quarter rally. Though they didn’t make another basket, the Bruins hit 11 of 12 foul shots to pull back to within five.

Sylvan Hills’ fourth-quarter blitz was led by forward Jaylen Wright, who dominated on the inside and showed a nice shooting touch from mid-range.

Pulaski Academy finished 4 of 29 from three-point range and 13 of 62 overall from the floor. The Bruins made 18 of 23 free-throw attempts.

Sylvan Hills went 20 for 53 from the floor, including 2 of 9 from three-point range. The Bears made 7 of 12 free throws.

Williams led all scorers with 21 points. Wright added 16 points and 15 rebounds. Pulaski Academy was led by seventh-grader Trey Johnson, who finished with 18 points, 12 from the charity stripe.

The three local teams play consecutively today, with the freshmen Lady Bears taking on Watson Chapel at 10 a.m. to start things off.

The No. 1 seeded Jacksonville boys follow at 11:15 a.m. against Watson Chapel before Sylvan Hills takes on No. 2 seed Maumelle.

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot boys turn around in last half

Leader sportswriter

It took one of the best halves of play all season for Cabot to hold off Marion in a 45-39 upset victory at Panther Arena on Tuesday to boost its viability in the 7A/6A East Conference standings.

The Panthers (7-13, 3-7) shot a stellar 75 percent from the floor in the third quarter at 9 of 12, including a perfect 2 of 2 from three-point range. It totaled to 68 percent (13 of 19) in the second half, and 58 percent for the game at 19 of 33. Turnovers also played in Cabot’s favor as the Panthers gave the ball away only once in the second half while forcing nine from Marion in that time. The turnover ratio in the first half was the exact opposite with seven Cabot turnovers to Marion’s one.

Senior forward Ryan Stafford led the way for the Panthers with 14 points, including 10 points in the decisive third quarter, six of which came in the final 1:47 of the period.

“We did score a few points in the second half for once,” Panthers coach Jerry Bridges said. “I don’t know what attributed to that, I know at halftime I wasn’t very happy. I didn’t think we were playing tough. I’m not going to say we weren’t playing hard, we weren’t playing tough enough. We sort of challenged them at halftime, and they really responded well.

“We were aggressive with the ball, and that’s something we’ve been trying to stress all year. It was a good team effort, and I thought all of our seniors stepped up and did a great job tonight.”

The Patriots (14-5, 7-3) got a few more looks than their host, but could manage only 40 percent from the floor (16 of 40). Cabot’s good ball control in the second half also meant fewer opportunities for Marion, which shot 7 of 15 in the second half, including 3 of 7 in the final eight minutes.

It wasn’t the biggest home crowd seen all season for Cabot, but the members of Panther Nation who were on hand made noise like a crowd much larger. It was an energy that was noticeably picked up on by the players late in the third quarter and early fourth quarter as the Panthers went from a 26-22 deficit at the 3:10 mark of the third to a 39-35 lead with 5:11 remaining. The victory also helped ease the painful memory of a brutal 67-32 bashing from North Little Rock the previous Friday.

“I’m just glad our fans still support these kids,” Bridges said. “Friday was tough, I’m not going to lie to you. When you take one like that, it affects your mojo. We’ve got a good community here that supports our kids. Our kids are going to play hard, and I just thought we stepped up our defensive intensity a little, and just started playing tougher.”

Jake Ferguson pulled the Panthers to within a point when he hit a three-point basket with 3:02 remaining in the third to make it 26-25. Dequarius Brigham hit the front end of a two-shot foul on the other end for Marion before Stafford got busy in the paint for Cabot. Stafford tied the game at 27 with a putback, and answered two more Marion baskets with inside jumpers to pull even again, 31-31 with 37 seconds left to play in the third. The Panthers had not led since the opening five minutes until Ferguson came away with a steal as the third quarter was winding down, and found senior Kyle Thielemier for a layup just before the buzzer to give Cabot a 33-31 lead heading into the fourth.

“At this level, you’ve got to play tough,” Bridges said. “You may not shoot great each and every night, but there’s no excuse for not going out there and being tough and playing hard. I think our guys did that tonight.”

Thielemier and senior forward Clayton Vaught each added 10 points for the Panthers while point guard Bryan Shrum had five points and five steals. For Marion, Darian Barnes led all scorers with 16 points.

Cabot traveled to Mountain Home last night.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

EDITORIAL >> Mayors pushing good alternative

Jacksonville Mayor Gary Fletcher and Cabot Mayor Bill Cypert say there’s little hope that the North Belt freeway will ever be completed, certainly not in our lifetime. They have proposed alternate routes north of the planned loop that could be built in stages toward Hwy. 107 and on toward the Morgan exit at I-40.

There’s no realistic way to fund the much-delayed North Belt loop as projected costs have skyrocketed from $100 million to more than $700 million.

The North Belt fiasco is a typical example of bureaucratic incompetence, from the state Highway Department down to Metroplan and municipal goverments that could not line up funding for the second leg of the project or even agree on a route from the bean fields in Jacksonville to Crystal Hill in North Little Rock.

Short of turning the North Belt into a toll road, the loop as envisioned more than a generation ago will not happen. So Cypert has proposed an alternative, which would start running from Hwy. 89 to Hwy. 107, crossing Camp Robinson on a road that would have to be constructed without access to the base, then connecting with Hwy. 365 to I-430 and on to I-630.

Fletcher offers a slight variation to the alternative route. He suggests building an interchange on U.S. 67/167 in north Jacksonville to Coffelt Road leading to Hwy. 107 and then on to the highways in North Little Rock.

Our guess is their plans would save $500 million. Let’s pick one or the other.

EDITORIAL >> Graham stands tall

Lonoke County Prosecuting Attorney Chuck Graham has a well-earned reputation as a tough lawman. He puts criminals behind bars even when he’s pressured to go easy on them.

A native of Paducah, Ky., Graham finished his military service at Little Rock Air Force Base and decided to settle here and get his law degree. The former special Air Force investigator has been a police officer, defense attorney, deputy prosecutor and public defender. He’s seen it all, from drug trafficking to murder, from break-ins to rape.

Stacy Stracener, a former Cabot teacher, recently pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a minor and was sentenced to 14 years in prison, eight of them suspended. Her supporters, who had hoped she would avoid time in prison, thought the sentence was too harsh. Graham stood his ground.

Graham is an unassuming but no-nonsense prosecutor who some may criticize for being too tough when he tells juries to mete out punishment. He asks the same of judges, who respect Graham’s professionalism and sense of fairness.

He goes strictly by the book. He’ll plea bargain with defendants if they forgo trial, but there are no easy passes. He doesn’t grandstand and doesn’t grab headlines.

Chuck Graham has been good for Lonoke County and deserves the respect of all law-abiding citizens.

It occurs to us the attorney general’s office may become vacant in a couple of years. Chuck Graham would add dignity to the office.

TOP STORY >> Arkansans fight human trafficking

Leader staff writer

Louise Allison, founder of Partners Against the Trafficking of Humans, shared her story with the Cabot Civitan Club on Mon-day to illustrate how victims think.

The Dallas native and Little Rock resident also explained how trafficking can take forms people don’t usually envision.

Allison ran away from home and was “picked up” two blocks from her house when she was 14.

Tears welled up in her eyes as she told the group what life was like being raped, beaten, drugged and living on the streets until she was arrested for the last time at the age of 16.

Allison said, “I was left for dead multiple times. All I thought of was suicide, a way out.” She said that when there were drugs available she took them.

Although girls like her were told to give a fake name to police and say they were 21, officers were able to identify Allison and return her to her mother when she was 16.

She added that trafficking is second only to drugs as the most prevalent type of organized crime.

Allison said she was fortunate in that she didn’t have a sexually transmitted disease, broken bones or any other serious medical condition — such as not being able to have children — when she was found.

But Allison was damaged emotionally. “I was full of shame, full of guilt,” she said.

She returned to that world as a prostitute when she turned 18. “I believed that was all there was to life.”

Eventually, she married and had children. Allison said she was a terrible wife and mother because she didn’t know how to act. So, she tried to emulate other people.

“I didn’t know because I was still that broken little girl,” Allison said.

She said 30 years of her life were wasted because of what had happened when she was 14.

Allison eventually moved to Little Rock and attended a church service. Then she found a woman at the church who listened to her, didn’t pass judgment and loved her.

Allison said that turned her life around, and someone supporting them is the No. 1 thing victims of human trafficking need.

She started Partners Against Trafficking Humans because “I believed I was the only one. I don’t want them (other victims) to waste their lives in fear. I don’t want them to spend one day like that.”

Allison said one of the victims she knows of was a teenager who started dating a boy. The boy learned all about her life and her family, including her little sister.

The first time she was raped and tried to escape the boy, he told her that she could go. The boy said he was sure if she wouldn’t do it, her little sister would.

The teenager couldn’t imagine the same thing happening to someone she loved. So, she stayed.

Another victim Allison knows of was a single mom who met a man on Facebook. She was out of work and he told her about a job in Little Rock.

The man told her the company would provide the money for her to travel to Little Rock for training. She accepted the offer, leaving her son with his grandmother.

When the mother arrived in the city, the man revealed that there was no job training. He said the money she used was his and now she owed him.

Allison said the woman turned her first trick that night.

She asked the club members, “Do you see how people are getting trapped?”

Allison said, “It is real. It is in Arkansas.”

P.A.T.H.’s mission is to “provide safe housing and a program of restoration and reintegration for rescued victims of human trafficking and prostitution, through a variety of services and Christ-centered recovery programs, offering hope for healing, personal growth and future success.”

The nonprofit operates a shelter in North Little Rock, Allison said. The shelter can house eight women.

P.A.T.H. is hoping to open another shelter in Little Rock in August. It will have 10 beds for adult women, eight beds for adolescent women and room for up to four families.

The families could include women who have been allowed to have the children of their clients and abusers. Some victims are forced to have abortions, Allison said.

But a child can be an advantage to the trafficker, she explained. The trafficker can keep the child as insurance that the mother will come back to him or her after turning a trick, Allison said.

The child could also be used as a drug mule or be sold into prostitution when he or she is old enough, she continued.

Allison said P.A.T.H. is working to get the building in Little Rock rezoned so that it can be operated as a shelter.

She added that the organization has 14 acres in north Pulaski County, where it hopes to build a shelter for male victims of human trafficking.

Allison said what the nonprofit needs the most is prayers, financial contributions and furniture for the new shelter.

The Civitan Club plans to discuss making a donation to the group at its next meeting.

Monday night, member Kathy Bilon gave Allison small care bags containing toiletries.

Bilon runs Operation Clean Start, which has provided 344 of the bags she sews to several area nonprofits. The bags are filled with donated items.

So far, 344 of Bilon’s bags have been donated to the Dorcas House, Open Arms Shelter, Wade Knox Center for Children, Union Rescue Mission, Our House, marines in Afghanistan, cancer patients and Safe Haven Women’s Shelter.

TOP STORY >> Slavery exhibit in Cabot

Leader staff writer

How much money was a human being worth in the 19th Century?

Documents now on display at the Museum of American History in Cabot show a 33-year-old mulatto carpenter named Stephan and his 28-year-old mulatto wife Sally who lived in South Carolina in 1829 had a market value of $1,800. Peter, 40, who like Stephan and Sally was a slave, was worth $700.

The exhibit also includes newspaper ads offering slaves for sale, rewards for the return of runaway slaves, a hoe used to cultivate the fields of a South Carolina plantation, a small brass bracelet called a manillas that European slave traders used to trade for slaves and a brick from the Chester Ashley mansion in Little Rock that was handmade by slaves.

“These items document a dark and controversial time in our history, but still a time that is vitally important to be remembered and studied,” said museum director Mike Polston.

Slavery was introduced into the American colonies in the 17th Century and continued into the 19th Century, ending in 1865 with the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.

Initially, slaves were in demand as house servants and field hands throughout the colonies. Slavery as an institution was entrenched when the colonies declared independence from England.

By the early 1800s, when cotton became king in the South, most Northern states had either abolished slavery outright or had laws in place to end it gradually.

But in the Southern states, which depended on slave labor to produce crops, slavery continued until it was abolished following a four-year Civil War that started when the South seceded from the union.

The documents now on display at the museum include inventories of plantations in South Carolina and Virginia.

The South Carolina document gives a detailed description of each enslaved person and their estimated market value, Polston said.

The exhibit is for a limited time. The museum has owned the documents for many years, but they are fragile and are stored most of the time to protect them from light, he said.

Polston started the museum in a classroom at Cabot High School in 1981.

It now contains more than 5,000 pieces that chronicle the history of the United States. It is supported by the school district, donations and the Cabot Advertising and Promotion Commission.

The museum is located at 114 S. First St. beside the health department. It is open Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

To schedule group tours on other days, call 501- 743-3577. Admission is free.

TOP STORY >> Have gun, will pray in church

Leader staff writer

Several area churches plan to welcome with open arms a proposed state law that would lift the ban on concealed weapons in houses of worship.

On Monday, the House of Representatives approved by an 85-8 vote a bill called “The Church Protection Act of 2013.” The bill was passed by the state Senate with a 28-4 vote last week.

Gov. Mike Beebe is expected to sign it into law.

Although many local ministers are in favor of the bill becoming a law, they do plan on establishing guidelines concerning who can carry the weapons in their sanctuaries.

Rev. James Bolden III of Evangelistic Ministries Church in Jacksonville said, “I think it’s a good move because the flock should be protected. But I feel the churches should organize themselves to the point that people inside the church be assigned to carry (the guns). Pastors, don’t be afraid of the law. Use it to look over your flocks.”

Bolden was elected in November to serve on the Jacksonville City Council.
He added that pastors who don’t want guns in their sanctuaries should post a sign stating that policy.

Pastor Mark McDonald of First United Methodist Church in Jacksonville said he wants to do just that. McDonald plans to recommend the posting of signs at every entrance to his church. They would say concealed weapons are not allowed with the exception of those carried by certified law enforcement officers.

McDonald wrote in an e-mail, “Our church has not discussed this yet, but I personally am opposed to allowing concealed weapons in the church because the church — especially the sanctuary — is a place of protection and peace.”

He continued, “We are very intentional about providing a safe place for our children and youth, and I’m surprised that we are considering a bill that would allow concealed weapons in churches while it seems that we all agree that is a bad idea for our schools. The idea of a dozen people drawing their weapons during a perceived conflict does not bring me a sense of protection and peace.”

McDonald added, “If we feel there is a need for armed protection, I would support hiring certified officers to provide this in appropriate locations of the church.”

Some churches are waiting to see what happens while others don’t plan to make any changes.

The minister of a church in Ward did not want The Leader to identify him or his church.

He explained, “You’ve always got some for and some against. (As a pastor) you don’t want to invite any extra controversy to divide your congregation. We’re not acknowledging it. People who have (a license) can bring them. Our policy would be we’re not going to draw a lot of attention to it.”

Pastor Tim McMinn of Sylvan Hills Community Church said his church is fortunate enough to have several members who are police officers.

But, he said, “I’m for (the bill). I think churches need to protect themselves as much as possible.”

McMinn is also a Sherwood alderman.

He said his church would meet this month to discuss rules and regulations about who can have concealed weapons in the church and when they can have them.

McMinn added that his church was vandalized when a man broke the windows with a baseball bat last Wednesday. Repairs were made and the same man came to vandalize the church again on Saturday.

McMinn said, “There can be people who break into your church and cause bodily harm.”

Pastor Greg Hooper of The Venue at Chapel Hill in Jacksonville, a satellite of the First Baptist Church of Cabot, said the Ministry Support Council, which is elected and includes some of the pastors, will make a recommendation to the congregation about whether concealed guns will be allowed. Then the congregation will decide what to do.

He added, “I like the law in that it defers the decision (to the church).”

Pastor W.C. Willis of Apostolic Revival Church in Ward has a concealed carry permit. He said obtaining the permit requires an extensive background check.

Willis said, “It should be left up to individual churches. We’ll deal with it as it unfolds. We will designate people who can be armed. I’m not going to the pulpit armed. I feel like that would be inappropriate.”

The pastor is a Navy veteran. He added, “I don’t consider a police officer any more qualified than myself.”

Willis also said, “I think the media goes way overboard painting this picture (against gun rights).”

He noted, “There are probably a lot of churches where it (people bringing in guns) is already happening.”

Willis shared that the normal routine for military personnel in Israel, where he has traveled a few times, is to sit down to lunch with rifles at hand. “You feel totally safe. Give us the freedom to make our own choices,” he said.

Pastor Brian Baker of Victory Praise and Worship Church in Jacksonville said, “I agree it should be left up to the discretion of the churches. We already have policies and procedures in place that are adequate for our safety. At this time, we haven’t decided (whether to allow concealed handguns). Our board will meet and make a decision.”

Baker said his church would probably not allow them and, “I would feel better with an outside entity, like a police officer.”

Charles Gastineau, chairman of the church council at the Old Austin United Methodist Church in Ward, said, “We’re waiting to see. I think our church would be for allowing them. It’s a wait-and-see attitude right now.”

Gastineau is also a Ward alderman.

He continued, “I think it’s a good idea, I think in today’s troubled society you should allow people with concealed carry licenses to bring (guns) into houses of worship.”

Lyndon Whitledge, who retired in 2008 as pastor of the North Jacksonville Missionary Baptist Church, thinks allowing concealed weapons in churches will not just help keep people secure. He said the measure would make churches less of an easy target for thieves.

Whitledge said some churches collect up to $1,000 on a Sunday morning in the offering plate.

He explained, “They have a lot more cash at that time than anyone else would. It’s a prime duck for some sort of robbery. It’s high time churches have (guns). We’ve got a society with low morals. We’re just on the verge of people realizing church is where the money is at.”

Whitledge added that a church shouldn’t need a sign saying what its policy is because the congregation should know what the views of their church are.

He then noted, “The people that have got those permits are pretty safe with guns. The people who use them unlawfully aren’t church people anyways. A church is a very close-knit family of people. They’ll do anything to protect their church. Christianity teaches people to forgive and be gracious. That’s not the type of person who will be a loose end with a gun.”

Whitledge, who is in his 70s, also said it is a shame that churches have to be locked now for fear of robbery or vandalism. In his day, “Everybody thought it was a horrible thing to lock a church. That’s like locking the gates of heaven,” the retired pastor said.

The current state law reads that a license to carry a concealed handgun does not authorize anyone to carry a concealed handgun into a church or place of worship.

The Church Protection Act of 2013 would not remove churches and other places of worship from the list of places where concealed handguns are prohibited. But it would add that being on the list “does not preclude a church or other place of worship from determining who may carry a concealed handgun into a church or other place of worship.”

The bill has an emergency clause that states the act would be effective on the date of its approval by the governor, during the period of time when the governor may veto it if he doesn’t take any action or on the date the last house overrides a veto by the governor.

The emergency clause was added because “personal security is increasingly important” and “the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States ensures a person’s right to bear arms,” according to the bill.

The Arkansas Senate is also considering a bill that would make private the state’s list of people who have licenses to carry concealed handguns.

The Arkansas Press Association and the governor have expressed opposition to the measure as it infringes upon the state’s Freedom of Information Act.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Bears get tussle from Mills

Leader sportswriter

Offense didn’t actually come along until the latter stages of the second quarter for Sylvan Hills, but the Lady Bears took control early with strong defense on their way to a 55-45 victory over 5A Central Conference rival Mills University Studies at the SHHS gymnasium on Friday.

The Lady Bears (10-9, 6-3) limited the Lady Comets to 3 of 7 field goals in the first quarter and 2 of 7 in the second quarter, and kept the pressure up in the second half with a full-court press most of the way. That resulted in low overall numbers for Mills, which shot 42 percent (16 of 38) for the game. Sylvan Hills got to the rack more often, but came out worse percentage wise at 33 percent (16 of 49).

Another key stat for Sylvan Hills was the 24 turnovers it forced by the Lady Comets, 16 of which were steals.

“First half, we probably missed six or seven layups,” Lady Bears coach Shelley Davis said. “We were up two, we should have been up 16. They were trying to hustle, but we were in a hurry and didn’t concentrate on making the shots. When we started to slow the pace down a little and started concentrating on what we were doing, I thought the shots were going in and caused the lead to go back up a little.”

Seniors Naomi Gregory and Jalmedal Byrd shared leading-scorer honors with 14 points each for Sylvan Hills. Gregory also had five steals and five rebounds while Byrd had five rebounds and four steals. Both players found success in transition with many of those steals, as the Lady Bears went up 25-17 at halftime and controlled things 40-25 at the end of three quarters.

The Lady Bears stayed aggressive on defense, contesting shots and making possessions generally difficult for Mills. Gregory and Byrd applied man-to-man pressure against Mills’ guards while zone defense denied inside.

“We’re playing a 2-3 right now, but I could tell they were nervous about handling the ball,” Davis said. “So I just pulled those two up to play. Basically, the top two guards were in a man and everybody else was back in that zone. When we did that, it caused them to throw it away where we could get some steals going, and it worked. We got some steals off it and some layups. We just tried to put a little more pressure out on the guards.”

Jessica Brasfield added nine points and four steals for Sylvan Hills while Ryan Hendricks finished with seven points and four rebounds.

Things did not go as well for the home team in the final game as Mills downed the Bears boys 53-47. The Comets (11-8, 5-3) controlled things from the start, but could never build a lead any larger than 12 points.

For the Bears (5-11, 2-7), it was yet another of many installments this season in which they were talented enough to stay close but not experienced enough to come back, as Mills built a 28-18 lead at halftime and held off a fourth-quarter run by its host.

“We go out and play a great first quarter, moving the basketball,” Mills coach Raymond Cooper said. “And then from the second quarter, we got into individualistic play. We start holding the ball, passing up open people. Then, Sylvan Hills makes a great run, they’re going to come back. That’s a good team with pride, they were at home, guys who can make shots. And then, all of a sudden, let’s go back and run the offense again.”

The two teams shot similar from the floor as Mills went 46 percent (17 of 37) while the Bears were 43 percent at 17 of 40.

Things started slow for the Bears as they were just 5 for 23 in the first half, but they went 7 for 9 in the third quarter, including a perfect 3 for 3 on three-point attempts.

Post player Aumoni Armond led the Bears with 12 points and four rebounds while junior guard Ronnie Hinton added 11 points. For Mills, Kaylon Tappin led with 16 points and five rebounds and junior guard Omar Avance had 11 points.

Sylvan Hills will host Little Rock Christian Academy on Friday.

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.

SPORTS STORY >> Wildcats win in overtime

Leader sportswriter

A low-scoring game got the boost of an extra four minutes of playing time as North Little Rock downed Cabot 50-40 in overtime at Wildcat Arena on Friday. The Lady Wildcats took over sole possession of second place in the 7A/6A East Conference with the victory behind league-leading Little Rock Central.

The Lady Wildcats led 17-16 at the end of three quarters after the two teams were tied at 13 all at halftime of the defensive struggle. But North Little Rock (13-5, 6-2) helped itself at the free-throw line late, and tacked on 33 points through the fourth quarter and overtime.

Danielle McWilliams pulled the Lady Panthers (12-7, 5-4) to within a point early in the fourth quarter with a basket that made it 19-18. North Little Rock’s Malica Monk answered on the other end with a basket and free throw to put the Lady Wildcats back up 22-18.

NLR pushed the score as high as 26-19 before the Lady Panthers came back with help at the free-throw line, including a pair of foul shots by senior guard Ally Van Enk that cut it back down to two possessions at 26-22.

Things got even more interesting down the stretch as point guard Jaylin Bridges scored to make it 27-25, and Alyssa Hamilton finally tied things up at 27 with a late basket. Monk made two more free throws as the Lady ’Cats pushed the margin to 30-27, but a pair of free throws by Cabot senior forward Elliot Taylor in the final minute assured overtime after a last-second three-point attempt by North Little Rock failed.

Once in overtime, the Lady Wildcats made the most of repeated trips to the foul line, going 12 for 15. North Little Rock was 11 for 41 from the floor for 27 percent and made only one of 11 three-point attempts for nine percent.

The Lady Wildcats made up for their weak shooting from the floor with a 60-percent effort from the foul line at 25 of 42.

Cabot shot 25 percent from the floor (10 of 40) and made 1 of 5 three-point attempts for 20 percent. The Lady Panthers made 63 percent from the free-throw line at 17 of 27.

Taylor led the Lady Panthers with 13 points, with only two of those points coming in the first three quarters of play. McWilliams, Van Enk and Hamilton each added seven points for Cabot while Bridges finished with six points. For North Little Rock, Monk led with 20 points. Cabot had a slight rebounding advantage at 36-30.

The Charging Wildcats boys team took care of business in a 67-32 rout over Cabot in the finale on Friday. T.J. Francis led the way for North Little Rock with 16 points. The victory improved the Wildcats to 21-1 overall and 9-0 in the 7A/6A East Conference, and still in sole possession of the conference league as well as the overall No. 1 ranking in class 7A/6A.

Cabot moved to 6-13 overall and 2-7 in the 7A/6A East in a three-way tie for fifth place with Mountain Home and Little Rock Central.

SPORTS STORY >> Jacksonville ladies win it in the fourth

Leader sports editor

For the second time this season, the No. 1 ranked Jacksonville Lady Red Devils needed a strong fourth quarter push to get past Little Rock Christian Academy. The home game on Friday was even tougher than the road game in early January.

The Lady Warriors were on fire from outside for three-and-a-half quarters, but lost the touch late, just as Jacksonville found it, resulting in a 64-57 win for the home team.

Jacksonville was down 29-23 until Shakyla Hill hit a driving floater in the lane at the buzzer to end the first half. It wasn’t quite the spark the team needed in the second half. LRCA stretched the lead to as much as 39-30 in the third quarter, then pushed out to a 10-point lead early in the fourth, almost exclusively from three-point range. The Lady Warriors made 14 three pointers in the game on 22 attempts.

“We were hot for three quarters,” LRCA coach Skip Sanford said. “All of a sudden we lost it and they found it. It’s hard enough to deal with Jessica Jackson on the inside. When they start hitting from outside you just have to try to score with them, and suddenly we couldn’t make anything.”

Jacksonville junior Tiffany Smith tied the game with a three pointer with five minutes left to cap a 12-2 Jacksonville run. Still, the Lady Warriors retook the lead with a pair of free throws at 3:28.

Hill tied it again with a transition layup. Jacksonville (16-4, 9-0) wasn’t pressing, but Smith, alone in the backcourt with four Lady Warriors, snuck up on Carlee Earls and stripped her from behind.

“I usually get about one of those a game,” Smith said of her sneaky steal. “Just plays where they don’t even see me coming.”

She pulled the ball out to the top of the key and passed it to Hill. After passing the ball around the perimeter, Smith hit a 23-foot shot with 2:26 left to give Jacksonville its first lead in the second half at 55-52.

It didn’t last long. Little Rock Christian’s Rachel Rudder drained a three just 16 seconds later to tie the game again. Smith answered that with her third three-pointer of the fourth quarter with 1:43 to play.

“That’s my strength,” Smith said. “I’m an outside shooter. It wasn’t working early but when you’re a shooter just keep shooting. That’s all I did.”

The Lady Warriors’ hot shooting was over with Rudder’s three pointer. They didn’t make another shot from the floor the rest of the game. An air ball out of bounds followed Smith’s last three pointer.

Little Rock Christian (15-6, 7-2) fouled Jackson with 1:15 left and she missed the front end of a one-and-one. It was the second front-end miss of the quarter for Jacksonville. Little Rock Christian got the rebound but threw it away under no pressure.

Jacksonville’s Markela Bryles then hit two free throws with 46 seconds remaining for a 60-55 Lady Red Devil lead.

The Lady Warriors missed two more threes before Jackson got the rebound and was fouled. Her two foul shots made it 62-55 with 16 seconds remaining and sealed the victory.

Smith led Jacksonville with 17 points while Jackson and Hill each added 13. Earls led all scorers with 21 points.

The Jacksonville boys were expected to have an easy time with winless Little Rock Christian, and did, winning 54-26. The Warriors (3-15, 0-8) didn’t score until a minute remained in the first quarter and it made it 14-2. Senior Justin McCleary scored six points before head Devil Vic Joyner went to the bench for most of the final three periods.

Jacksonville (16-4, 8-1) led 50-22 after three quarters and invoked the sportsmanship rule early in the fourth.

Senior Khaleel Hart led the Red Devils with 12 points.

Jacksonville’s boys and girls hosted North Pulaski on Tuesday. They will travel to McClellan on Friday with first place on the line in the boys’ game. Jacksonville and McClellan are 8-1 in league play with McClellan’s only loss at Jacksonville.