Saturday, February 23, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Devils finish conference perfect

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville Lady Red Devils got another 30-point performance from star senior Jessica Jackson, and a loaded stat sheet from sophomore Shakyla Hill in a 68-48 victory over Sylvan Hills Tuesday in Sherwood.

Jackson scored 31 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to follow a 30-point, 15-rebound game in the previous outing against Pulaski Academy.

Hill finished two rebounds and two steals away from a triple-double, despite playing only about half the game. She checked out for the final time with 4:21 left in the game.

Jacksonville coach Katrina Mimms has been employing the strategy of letting reserves play the last half of each quarter in several games the past month. Hill finished with 10 points, eight rebounds, eight steals and four assists.

Shooting guard Tiffany Smith added 15 points to the victory.

“That’s three of our key scorers,” Mimms said. “We’ve got one sitting out with a thumb injury, but you want to see your key players playing well as state tournament approaches. Right now we’ve been playing pretty well.”

Jacksonville (21-4, 14-0) didn’t take control until midway through the second quarter.

Sylvan Hills’ Jalmedal Byrd-Hudson scored 10 points in the first quarter to keep the Lady Bears close. Byrd-Hudson’s three pointer with 3:30 left in the opening quarter made it 10-10, but Jacksonville reeled off the next six points and took an 18-12 lead into the second quarter.

All six points were started or finished by Hill. She got steals on consecutive Sylvan Hills possessions and turned each into transition assists, one to Antrice McCoy and one to Keke Alcorn.

A third steal in less than 90 seconds resulted in Hill taking it in herself.

Jackson got uncorked in the second quarter, scoring 12 of her 31 and leading the Lady Devils to a 38-24 lead at halftime.

The Lady Bears (13-12, 8-6) were within 42-30 before Jacksonville all but put the game away. Two more steals turned into two more layups by Hill. Jackson then added two three pointers to cap a 10-0 run and a 52-30 Jacksonville lead with 4:13 left in the third quarter.

The Lady Red Devils led 59-38 by the end of the third, and started the fourth with a 9-0 run that invoked the mercy rule with 4:45 left in the game.

Byrd-Hudson scored 24 to lead the Lady Bears, who also qualifies for 5A state with a fourth-place finish in conference. Sylvan Hills will play at 1 p.m. Wednesday against Huntsville, the 5A West champion, at the Pine Bluff Convention Center. Jacksonville will play at 7 p.m. Tuesday against either Clarksville or Morrilton.

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot finally set to open new facility

Leader sportswriter

The Cabot High School baseball and softball teams have a new place to call home. With the completed construction of new baseball and softball fields, as well as a spacious new indoor facility, the Panthers and Lady Panthers are opening the 2013 season in style.

“It’s a new complex, and we’re really excited about our indoor facility,” said Cabot baseball coach Jay Fitch. “We kind of have a place we can call our own now, and don’t have to worry about getting run out.”

According to Cabot superintendent Tony Thurman, the cost of the complex is in the $1-million range. The district is waiting on prices for additional parking areas. They are also considering cover for the bleachers.

The new indoor facility measures about 120 feet in length according to Fitch, and will have four 75-to-80 foot batting cages. It’s fully turfed, which allows the teams to run through their daily practice routines even in inclement weather.

“It’s really nice man, we’re proud of it,” Fitch said. “It’s fully turfed, and the cages are set to where we can lower the frames up and down and put the nets on top of the frame, and then raise those back up. So we really have an all-turf indoor facility to practice defense, especially infield.”

The new baseball field itself has similar design characteristics to the high school baseball field in Searcy according to Fitch. The old Cabot baseball and softball complex had small locker rooms about 40-to-50 yards away from the fields. In the new complex, the dugouts are connected to the locker rooms located along the third base line.

Also connected is the coach’s office, as well as restrooms. So going back and forth won’t be an issue for team members or coaches. A new storage building is also close by for all necessary equipment.

The length of the field has shortened from the old one according to Fitch. The old Cabot baseball field benefited the pitchers as centerfield peaked around 390 feet, which as a result, few home runs were hit.

“We ended up shortening it a bit,” Fitch said. “Our old field was so, so big. The dimensions were huge. We just never had a home run hit out of there. We basically shortened it up all-around by about 20 feet. So we brought centerfield in to around 370 feet.”

Twenty feet may sound like a lot, but with the changes to modern aluminum bats teams use at the high school and collegiate levels, hitting one out of the Cabot high school field will still be a tough feat to accomplish.

“It’s still going to take a big hit to get one out,” Fitch said. “The thing is, the way they’ve changed the bats, the bats the kids use are real comparable to wooden bats now as far as the bat-exit-speed ratio. So the balls simply don’t travel like they used to. I may just shorten the field up even more. I still think it’ll be pretty hard to hit one out of there.”

It should be a different season in 2013 for the Panther baseball team, who failed to make the class 7A state tournament in 2012. It was only the third time in Fitch’s 14 seasons at Cabot that his team missed the state tournament. Only three players graduated from last year’s squad, so the Panthers will have up to seven returning starters this season, many of which are now juniors.

To the 2012 Panthers’ credit, they lost a lot of close games that could’ve easily ended in their favor. But with several players back from last year’s team, Fitch hopes this group can learn from those close games, and end up on the winning side more times than not this time around.

“We really kind of have everybody back,” Fitch said. “It’s still a pretty young group. At times we had five sophomores and some ninth graders starting. That’s a tough combination when you play in the 7A Central. As far as wins and losses it wasn’t good, but we lost a bunch of close games.

“It’s like we were in nearly every game, we just didn’t have enough firepower to pull some of those close games off. This year they’ve all got another year under their belt. Hopefully we’ll win those close games this year. The kids have been working hard since August, and we expect good things this year.”

As far as conference play goes, the Panthers’ move to the 7A/6A East means they don’t have to deal with traditional powerhouse Bryant, the defending class 7A state champion. Bryant moved to the 7A/6A South Conference this season. Conway, another traditionally tough team, remained in the 7A/6A Central Conference.

Even though Cabot won’t have to see those teams in conference play, the 7A/6A East is no slouch conference. Jonesboro, Searcy, Little Rock Central and Mountain Home are rich in tradition as well, and will all be threats for the conference title.

The Panthers played at Lonoke in a benefit game on Tuesday, and ended up beating the Jackrabbits, last year’s class 4A state runner-up, 17-2. Cabot opens its regular season Tuesday at Little Rock Hall, and will play its first home game at the new complex on Wednesday against Little Rock Parkview at 5 p.m.

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Bison back in state tourney

Leader sports editor

The Carlisle Lady Bison halted a three-year sabbatical from the state tournament with a dominant win over England on Thursday in the first round of the class 2A East regional in Carlisle.

The Lady Bison and the Lady Lions had met twice before this season. Each previous meeting was also at Carlisle and the two teams split those games in two close contests.

Thursday’s win wasn’t close very much beyond the first quarter.

A clear strategy of stopping England’s leading scorer Alesha Pennster was executed almost perfectly by the Carlisle defense. Pennster didn’t make a field goal until the third quarter on her 14th attempt. She finished with just six points on 2 of 22 shooting from the floor and 2 of 7 from the free-throw line.

“We definitely had a game plan of stopping her,” Carlisle coach Jonathan Buffalo said. “We wanted to get up on her real close outside, and if she got by we wanted one or two girls right in her way with hands all the way up. The girls did a great job of executing that plan.”

Pennster did a poor job ofusing Carlisle’s defensive strategy to find open teammates. She continued to shoot and shoot amidst heavy traffic, but she wasn’t the only Lady Lion struggling from the floor. England made just 16 of 72 shot attempts for 22 percent. They were just 5 of 15 from the free-throw line. Most of England’s points came off putbacks after offensive rebounds.

Carlisle didn’t get many offensive rebounds, and thus not as many shots, but they hit at a much higher percentage. The Lady Bison made 43 percent of their attempts on 24 of 46 shooting. Post player Faith Walker was 11 of 20 and finished with a game-high 27 points.

“She was outstanding for us tonight,” Buffalo said of Walker. “She’s been coming on lately. She’s been averaging about 18 the last several games, but she played very well tonight.”

The game was tied at 14 after one quarter. Though Pennster got just one free throw, England point guard Laukinda Criss drained two three pointers and the Lady Lions got six points from their bench in the opening frame. But without Pennster handling most of the scoring duties, the rest of the Lady Lions couldn’t maintain their good start.

Carlisle’s Breanna Young led the charge in the second quarter that saw the Lady Bison move out to a 10-point lead. She had six points in a 14-4 run that forced England to call timeout with 2:23 left in the half. The timeout was effective in stopping Carlisle’s scoring run, but didn’t help England’s offense. A rash of turnovers by both teams meant neither team scored the rest of the half and the score remained 28-18 until halftime.

The second half was a different story for Carlisle, which had its best offensive showing in the third and blew the game open. All six Lady Bison that got on the floor in the third quarter scored, led by Walker’s eight points. The final tally of the third quarter was 20-8 and resulted in a 48-26 lead going into the fourth. England was unable to match its 14 points in the first quarter in the second and third combined.

The onslaught continued a couple of minutes into the fourth with the lead reaching 27 points on two occasions, but Buffalo pulled the starters midway through.

The Lady Lions finally got hot with about three minutes remaining, making four of their last six shots, including two three pointers.

Young was the only other Lady Bison in double figures with 10 points. Presley Carter finished with eight points and nine rebounds. Sloane Henderson came off the bench to add seven points and seven assists.

SPORTS STORY >> Badgers knock off Wynne, win East

Leader sportswriter

The storybook ending did not come without struggle as Beebe rallied in the fourth quarter to defeat Wynne 40-33 at Badger Sports Arena on Tuesday to claim the 5A East Conference title.

The game earned its capacity crowd for three primary reasons, senior night, a shot at wrapping up the league title, but almost as important was the fact that the Yellowjackets handed Beebe its most embarrassing loss of the season in a 67-27 blowout back on Jan. 22.

Beebe senior forward Austin Burroughs had difficulty finding his shooting touch in the first half, as the Badgers went 4 of 15 from the floor in the first quarter and 5 of 24 for the entire half.

Burroughs could not have warmed up at a better time as he hit his first three-point shot of the night with 4:20 left to play to put the Badgers up 33-31, and his second trey at the 1:53 mark gave Beebe its biggest lead up to that point at 36-31, and put momentum completely on the host’s side for the remainder.

“I was extremely proud of the way we defended,” Beebe coach Ryan Marshall said. “We held them to 19 points in the first half, but we just didn’t put the ball in the hole. We got all kinds of looks early, but they had a lot of emotions going tonight. They just played a little tight, but then Burroughs yanks a three and it’s nothing but net. It’s a shot now that’s the biggest shot of the game, but that’s Burroughs.”

The Badgers celebrated their conference championship with a net-cutting ceremony following the game.

For the game, Beebe went 33 percent (13 of 40) with a more selective shot sequence in the second half, while the Yellowjackets were just under 30 percent at 13 of 44.

Burroughs missed on a pair of early three-point attempts and had just four points at halftime but eventually went on to lead the Badgers with 14 points. Senior guard Jake Schlenker had 11 points while junior point guard Tanner Chapman and senior post player Jared Gowen each finished with six points and six rebounds, along with four steals for Chapman. Junior post player Zach Baker had six rebounds and two blocked shots.

“When we played them up there the first time, they really shaded Austin,” Marshall said. “They knew where he was at all the time. So we overloaded some things and kind of brought Austin out as a decoy, and that opened up the post for Baker and Jared.”

Beebe took its first lead of the game with 1:10 remaining in the third quarter when Gowen scored inside to make it 26-25. The lead switched hands five times after that until Burroughs put the go-ahead three pointer away in the middle of the fourth.

“It’s unreal,” Marshall said. “The thing about it is, every one of these kids wearing that jersey is going to be somebody someday. They’re all just that type of character kids. We by far don’t have the best talent in the league, but they want it simply out of character, and just the determination to compete.

“They’re also very coachable, and that’s something people take for granted. We don’t deal with suspensions, we don’t deal with discipline because they do what they’re told to do, and they expect that out of each other.”

For Wynne, Keenan Halk led with 10 points while Romontae Marrs added nine points and seven rebounds.

Beebe played at Paragould last night after Leader deadlines, and will play in the opening boys game of the upcoming 5A state tournament at Pine Bluff Convention Center next week. The Badgers will be the No. 1 seed out of the 5A East Conference, and will face the No. 4 seed out of the 5A South Tuesday at 2:30 p.m.

SPORTS STORY >> Third-quarter run lifts Devils

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville Red Devils found themselves in a major tussle in their regular-season finale Tuesday at Sylvan Hills. A small adjustment at halftime and laser-accuracy shooting by senior guard Justin McCleary in the third quarter lifted the visiting team to a 64-51 win in Sherwood.

The game was tied at 23 at halftime, but McCleary hit 4 of 4 three-point attempts in the third quarter and Jacksonville made 6 of 6 in the second half to move out in front.

“We spread things out a little more with our guards and we got some open looks at threes with the skip pass,” Jacksonville coach Vic Joyner said. “We ran that play a few times to J-Mac and he knocked them down. That pulled them out and it opened up the inside for us. It was a small adjustment but it made a big difference.”

Sylvan Hills’ Aumonie Armond scored the first bucket of the third quarter to give the Bears a 25-23 lead. He also hit two free throws a minute later to make it 27-25, which was the last time Sylvan Hills led in the game.

McCleary then reeled off 14 straight points in a two-minute and 17-second span to give Jacksonville a 39-27 lead with 3:51 left in the third quarter. He scored 16 in the third quarter and finished as the game’s leading scorer with 23 points despite taking just one shot and not scoring at all in the fourth.

“He didn’t have to score in the fourth quarter because the middle was open for us,” Joyner said. “We either got it down to our bigs or we got penetration because we had them spread out.”

Jacksonville led 47-32 at the end of the third quarter and pushed the lead to 17 twice in the fourth. Despite the big deficit, the Bears had one more push left, but a huge blunder put an end to it with 1:30 left in the game.

Sylvan Hills pulled to within 56-48 on an Armond three pointer. Sylvan Hills coach Kevin Davis quickly called timeout with 1:40 left. After the break, the Bears forced a turnover and called timeout at the 1:30 mark. That’s where the blunder came in.

Sylvan Hills sent had only four players on the floor out of the timeout. A forced shot was stripped away by Jacksonville’s Brandon Brockman and there was no safety valve back on defense for Sylvan Hills. It resulted in an uncontested layup and a 10-point lead for Jacksonville with 1:15 remaining.

“It was just a sophomore mistake,” Davis said of the player that failed to take the floor. “He let another player tell him he was out after I told him he was in. When you’re dealing with the kind of inexperience we have, you’re going to have moments like that. We’ve had them all year. That’s the first time we’ve gone out there with four, but we’ve gone out there with six before. I’m still very proud of how hard they battled to get back in it. I’m really looking forward to seeing what this group can accomplish next year. I think they exceeded everyone’s expectations this year.”

They certainly exceeded people’s expectations in the first half on Tuesday, especially after quickly falling behind 14-3 in the first quarter. The Bears closed the gap to 14-8 by the end of the first, and a Cordy Winston three pointer capped a 15-2 run and gave the Bears an 18-16 lead with 4:15 remaining in the half.

The two teams were even on the boards with 27 rebounds each.

Jacksonville’s Aaron Smith finished with 18 points. Sylvan Hills’ Trajan Doss was the only other player to score in double figures with 11.

Both teams shot very poorly in the first half. Sylvan Hills was just 8 of 28 at halftime and finished the game making 17 of 54 attempts.

Jacksonville made 9 of 30 in the first half, but 13 of 25 in the second. Neither team shot free throws well. Sylvan Hills made 10 of 19 while Jacksonville hit 12 of 20. Both teams made seven three pointers, but Sylvan Hills took 22 shots from outside while Jacksonville just 12.

The Bears’ season ends while Jacksonville prepares to play Huntsville in the first round of the state tournament.

The Red Devils will face Huntsville at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Pine Bluff Convention Center.

TOP STORY >> Cabot’s annual cleanup March 16

Cabot’s cleanup and hazardous waste roundup will be held from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, March 16.

The event will again be co-sponsored by the city and Cabot City Beautiful. It will be held in conjunction with the national Great American Cleanup campaign and the statewide Keep Arkansas Beautiful Month.

Everyone in the Cabot area is encouraged to participate: Civic and service organizations, church and youth groups, schools and clubs, scouting groups, individuals, families, neighborhoods and businesses.

Volunteers should meet at the Cabot Panther Stadium parking lot at 9 a.m. March 16 and check in at the registration canopies.

Volunteers will be assigned routes by event coordinators if participants have not already designated their own areas. Orange safety vests and garbage bags will be available. Participants are encouraged to bring sturdy work gloves.

“Cabot is an amazing community. We all have a responsibility to keep it clean and attractive,” says Pat Watkins, president of Cabot City Beautiful.

“If Cabot is littered and ill-kempt, our potential to attract industry and tourism can be significantly impacted. Simple steps can greatly affect economic development — a fresh coat of paint, a few new flower plantings, roadsides and waterways free of litter. They all can make a big difference in Cabot’s future. We need volunteers to come help us keep Cabot beautiful.”

Irene Ernst, this year’s local Great American Cleanup co-coordinator, said the event will provide a drop-off point for the disposal of various electronic waste and household hazardous waste materials, to include latex paints (waste and recyclable), oil-base paints/thinners, motor oil, antifreeze, fluorescent bulbs, pesticides and herbicides, household cleaners, household batteries (nicad, alkaline and lithium), automotive batteries and off-the-rim tires. Computer components, TVs, VCRs and other types of electronic equipment will be accepted.

For more information, contact the group at 501-920-2122 or 501-941-4905.

TOP STORY >> Cabot resident recalls youth in wartime Britain

Leader staff writer

Shirley Buller of Cabot can be found at the Cabot American Legion Post 71 on Wednesdays sipping coffee from her Union Jack cup. She bakes sweets for the Legionnaires and shares colorful stories.

Buller recalled what life was like as a child during the Second World War in Britain.

Buller was born in 1938, a year before the war started, in Thetford, England, 80 miles northeast of London. The city was surrounded by Royal Air Force bases Mildenhall, Barnham and Lakenheath.

Her father, Robert Pawsey, was a chief gardener at an estate. He was also a member of the British Home Guard, a volunteer group who patrolled the town in case of a German invasion.

Her mother, Muriel Paw-sey, was a cook at a girls grammar school. She did laundry for a Gypsy for free. He gave her pints of goat milk. Buller had one brother, Derek, who was three years older.

“Everything was rationed. Couldn’t get more than the ration books said for the week. It was rough. We didn’t have much, but we got by somehow. Always had baked bread,” Buller said.

“A two-inch square of hard cheese was quartered for a family of four for the week. It didn’t matter if you had money. On the weekends we’d go out to the countryside and pick dandelions, because you could cook and eat the greens,” she said.

Her dad would find a nest of pheasant eggs. They tasted good, but were brighter in color.

He also caught rabbit, but Buller hated it, because they ate so much of it.

Twice a week, the air raid siren blared and residents had to go to a nearby bomb shelter. At night, they closed the black-out blinds, and blew out the kerosene and gas lamps. If they heard an explosion, they knew better than to peek out.

“Sometimes you’d be in bed. The sirens would wail at 1 a.m. and we’d just spend the night at the shelter. It was nerve-racking. But everybody took care of each other,” Buller said.

Sirens would go off when Buller was at school. Students had to sit and wait in a bomb shelter for the all-clear signal. The shelters held 50 people or more.

Her town was not hit, but Buller remembered seeing bomb sites and building burned in the neighboring towns closer to the military bases.

She remembers seeing the German bombers with the swastika on them and the RAF bombers and Spitfire planes flying. Buller said when a plane was shot down, the youngsters would get the glass from the plane’s windows and make rings out of them.

“There was no food until the Americans came. They brought us Spam. They told us it was specially processed American meat. We thought we had died and went to heaven,” Buller said.

The American convoys would stop and give the British more food, such as canned powered pea soup and bags of powered eggs off the supply trucks.

“Got any gum, chum?” they’d ask the American convoy drivers.

“We’d eat Eagle condensed milk sandwiches. We were glad to eat that and the turnip,” she recalled.

Clothing was also in short supply during the war and rationed. The factories were bombed so they produced no clothes.

Buller said her family got only one pair of shoes for the year. Her dad had to repair her shoes. She said if your foot grew, they would cut the toe out of the shoe so you could wear them.

If you went to school and your feet were wet, they allowed you to take your shoes off and dry your socks off on the radiator.

She said there were no hand-me-downs. Clothing was cut-up and made into other things.

Kids played on the sidewalks. The soldiers would stop and give them stuff. One day a soldier gave her a silk parachute to give to her mom.

“It was a blessing to get a parachute. Teenage girls made blouses and petticoats. My mom made me three to four pairs of underwear,” she said.

But there was a slight downside.

“When you walked to school, the wind would blow up your dress and fill the knickers up with air. (It) felt like they would fly, bloomers, true to their nature,” Buller said.

Her mom sewed button holes and slits into the undergarments, but they still filled with air.

Every Saturday, her dad went to the store and bought War Illustrated, a weekly publication about the war, and to see if any of the local boys were killed. She remembered listening to Winston Churchill on the radio.

“It saved our butt when the Americans came,” Buller said.

Buller remembered the day the war ended.

“Everybody was in the streets. Everybody was happy. Everybody was laughing, dancing, hugging and kissing,” she said.

Buller met her husband, John, an American airman stationed at Lakenheath, in 1959.

They marred a year later and were together for 52 years, until he passed away in 2011. They had six boys and two girls.

TOP STORYS >> Young witness tells of evils in Nazi Germany

Leader staff writer

“War is the most devastating, unheroic activity that man has ever devised. No one wins,” Ilse Nunn told Cabot High School history and psychology students Wednesday morning.

Nunn was “not quite” 9 years old when World War II began with the invasion of Poland on Sept. 1, 1939. The German native was 14 when the devastation ended.

Betrayal and deception haunted her family throughout the war.

She described how “a pall or rather pervasive fear hung over our daily lives. For six years, Hitler ruled and he did it with an iron hand.”

She explained how their leaders kept Germans in the dark. “Horrors about the concentration camps were whispered behind closed doors, but no one knew anything for sure,” Nunn said.

Nunn, who lives in Jacksonville, admired her grandmother’s acts of defiance. Her grandmother was friends with an elderly Jewish couple and Nunn played with their grandchildren before the war.

The Gestapo, the secret police, told her grandmother that her son would lose his job if she didn’t stop being friends with the couple. Nunn’s grandmother told the couple to come to her house at night and the friendship continued until Nazis took the family away.

“There was nothing we could do,” Nunn said. The Jewish grandfather was hung in the square.

Many Germans who wanted to help or simply wanted to find out what was going on paid the ultimate price. A close friend of Nunn’s cousins informed the Gestapo about the couple listening to BBC news on a radio in their basement.

“One couldn’t trust anyone. Suspicion held sway over the population,” she recalled.

Nunn, whose maiden name was Kalmering, added that she heard her parents talking about how their country would lose the war.

Even as a child, she knew instinctively not to mention the conversation to anyone because her mother and father would have been killed for not being loyal to Hitler.

Instead of “good morning,” Germans were required to salute and say, “Heil, Hitler!,” Nunn recalled.

Her cousins, who were also a mother and a father, were shot to death by a firing squad. Their bodies were donated for scientific research.

Nunn said, “It is still unknown what happened to their three sons.”

Her uncle committed suicide after the couple was executed.

“There is still no end to our tragedies,” Nunn continued.

Four of her family members died in bombings.

Nunn also described the ration cards her family used to get food and supplies during the war. The cards told you what you could buy and that depended on the size of your family.

Nunn’s family didn’t starve because they lived near the Baltic Sea where a lot of fishing was done, she said.

The family’s cellar was cold enough to keep potatoes and other foodstuffs that weren’t rationed.

Clothing and candy were rationed too, Nunn said.

The children could have candy for Easter and Christmas only.

She described to the Cabot students the destroyer her father served on as an engineer.

“It was so beautiful,” she said.

Nunn said she saw the ship as a little girl. The sailors served her a refreshing nonalcoholic red drink. They let her see the engine room, which was so clean it shined.

Nunn said her father’s cabin was so nice she wanted to bring it home to live in.

This imagery stands in stark contrast to what her young eyes saw later.

The ship was sunk when the British and the Germans violated Norway’s neutrality in pursuit of iron ore.

On March 12, 1945, Usedom — a Baltic Sea island on the border between Germany and Poland — where Nunn lived, was bombed.

“The bodies were piled a mile high on the walk. Everything shook that wasn’t nailed down,” she said.

At one point during the war, Nunn recalled, she was the one who ran into the open to get what the family needed. Her life could be risked, but her mother couldn’t die because she had to take care of her younger siblings, Nunn said.

She also remembered riding on a truck to the last bakery left standing where she received half of a loaf of bread.

“There were people screaming you couldn’t help. I will not forget that,” Nunn said.

Germany was divided into four sections after the Third Reich was defeated. The British, French, Americans and Russian took over one section each.

Usedom was part of the Soviet-controlled section of East Germany at the end of the war and the area’s residents weren’t safe.

Nunn said, “(The Russians) came in droves. I screamed at the top of my voice and then I prayed. I just expected to die every minute.”

Nunn’s family left on the last train heading west.

Each family member had just one suitcase and the journey was long.

“For my family, cold and hunger became very real, but God helped us through,” Nunn said.

Nunn continued, “Here was Germany at the end of the war, a huge pile of rubble.”

Areas the size of Jacksonville and Cabot were nothing but debris, she added.

America eventually shipped cornmeal to the Germans. “(They) began to feel sorry for us,” Nunn said.

She noted that her fellow citizens weren’t warmongers.

“They were hardworking, nose-to-the ground people and they didn’t believe in debt. (The government) sent you to where you were needed and you had better do your best,” Nunn said.

But the Germans rebuilt and her homeland no longer shows the scars of that dark time, Nunn said.

She said the four most prominent Nazis “took the coward’s way out.”

Hitler married his longtime girlfriend, Eva Braun, hours before they both committed suicide in his bunker while the Red Army was advancing.

Braun bit into a cyanide capsule and Hitler shot himself. Nunn said witnesses claimed the bodies were burned and taken to Russia.

Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels and his wife poisoned their seven children and killed themselves as the Soviets closed in on Berlin.

Herman Goering, the Nazi party leader, was captured and committed suicide in his cell before he could be tried for war crimes at Nuremberg.

Erwin Rommel, one of Germany’s most well-known generals, committed suicide rather than being shot by a firing squad after being implicated in a plot against Hitler.

At the end of her talk, Nunn offered the students advice.

“I suggest you learn all you can in school and in college because no one can take from you what you have learned,” she said.

Nunn then urged the students to be informed about candidates for political offices so that they can vote for the person they think will do the best job.

She left Germany in 1950 and married an American soldier. He was in the Army and had just one stripe, but it took nine months for her family to be declared “deNazified.”

The couple had three daughters and all of them served in the military against Nunn’s wishes. She told the students she was proud of them anyway. One daughter became a nurse and the others teachers.

David Copeland and history teacher Mike Nash organized the presentation.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

EDITORIAL >> Our military biggest target

Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.) visited Little Rock Air Force Base yesterday, concerned about automatic budget cuts that will go into effect if Congress doesn’t find a sensible way to reduce spending this month. A strange mechanism called sequestration will kick in March 1, resulting in about 10 percent cuts in federal spending.

You might say that’s a great idea, but for a military community like ours, that’s a big hit. About half of the cuts would come from the military budget. That figure may be a bit higher since the Pentagon had previously agreed to reductions to reflect U.S. withdrawals from Afghanistan and Iraq and a reduction in forces. The Air Force will shrink to about 300,000, about half what it was in the 1990s with the end of the Soviet empire.

If sequestration takes effect next week, the Pentagon will immediately lose $54.6 billion from its approximately $530 billion budget and will be cut at least $50 billion every year for a decade. The cuts are already being felt at Little Rock Air Force Base, where the 19th Operations Group has reduced flight training from five days to four. Hundreds of civilians will go on furlough if the cuts go into effect.

The Air Force has more than 180,000 civilian employees, and many of them will lose their jobs as the military downsizes.

What’s more, those who will continue to serve will see a vastly different military. Starting March 1, the Pentagon will only have money for emergency facility repairs at military bases.

“That results in a 90 percent reduction in those expenditures through the rest of the fiscal year,” Jamie Morin, acting under secretary of the Air Force, said recently. More than 400 projects at more than 140 bases will be frozen, saving $2.9 billion.

But if there’s sequestration, the Air Force will have to cut $12.4 billion more this year and still come up with $1.8 billion for overseas contingency operations. So more cuts will have to be made elsewhere.

“We’ve taken a series of initial actions, but those actions don’t come close to covering $12.4 billion,” Morin said. “There’s a lot more we’d have to do.” He said aircraft needing maintenance will be grounded until funds become available to service them later.

Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army chief of staff, sees more cuts on the horizon because military planners had agreed to several hundred billion dollars in cuts over the next decade long before there was talk of sequestration.

“Now on top of that with sequestration, we’ll take an additional $500 billion worth of cuts in the Department of Defense, so we’re now up to $1.2 trillion,” he said in a speech last week at the liberal Brookings Institution. “Add in another $100 billion that DoD needs to find in its base budget to preserve programs, like technology to defeat roadside bombs, which were paid for out of wartime supplemental funds that are going away (formally called ‘overseas contingency operations’ funding or OCO), and we’re now up to $1.3 trillion worth of cuts.”

Sure, they speak a different language in Washington and sometimes it’s hard to understand how Congress spends your money. But after a decade of service in two wars, military members will make the biggest sacrifice once again. As one colonel at the air base told us, “Our command is prepared. We will follow their guidance.” May that guidance be wise and just.

TOP STORY >> Cancer victim warns Cabot students

 Cancer survivor Rick Bender had four
operations after using smokeless tobacco.

Leader staff writer

Cancer survivor Rick Bender, 50, of Kentucky is the face of how smokeless tobacco can take on toll on one’s health.

Bender was at Cabot Middle School North and South last Thursday to give a presentation on the harm chewing tobacco does first hand. Bender’s visit was arranged by the Coalition for a Tobacco Free Arkansas.

Bender started using chewing tobacco as a 12-year-old influenced by peer pressure, advertising and baseball.

When Bender asked the 860 Middle School North students how many have tried smokeless tobacco, four students raised their hand. Over half the students in the gym knew someone who used tobacco all the time.

“Smokeless tobacco sounds nice, neat — pretty harmless. I didn’t want to smoke. I didn’t want anything to do with cigarettes but wanted to fit in with the crowd who smoked,” Bender said.

He remembered seeing the smokeless tobacco advertisements catchphrase, “Take a pinch instead of a puff.”

Copenhagen was once his preferred brand of snuff. With aspirations of playing baseball in the major leagues using spit tobacco went hand in hand.

In high school Bender was using a couple cans of tobacco a week. In February 1988, at age 25, he was up to a can a day. He noticed a white bump on his tongue and white patches on his mouth. Some had not healed up.

The tobacco irritated the sores. He quit dipping, but by Christmas the sore came back. The pencil point sore had grown to the size of a dime. He went to the doctor and the doctor cut a hunk of tongue with the sore for a biopsy.

In March 1989, Bender was diagnosed with an aggressive, fast-growing cancer. It had no remission. It wasn’t going to stop growing and had to be cut out or he would die. Doctors gave him two years to live.

A month later, he underwent his first of four surgeries to cut out the cancer that spread from his mouth down into his neck.

He lost a third of his tongue. Surgery destroyed the nerves in his neck run ning down to his right arm. He has 25 percent use of his right arm. Doctors had to cut through his jaw to get at the cancer. Complications and infection caused his jaw to fall apart. He has six teeth remaining.

Twenty years later, in 2009, infection developed in the other side of his jaw. He speaks with a little bit of a lisp and slurs some of his words. “I can’t even lick my lips,” Bender said.

“Spit tobacco causes heart disease, high blood pressure and gum disease and cancer. The survival rate from cancer is 50 percent after five years. If cancer occurs under the age of 30, it’s almost zero,” Bender told students. He told them if they know someone who has a sore in their mouth that does not heal and go away in 10 days, then they need to go to the dentist or see a doctor right away.

One can of snuff has the same amount of nicotine as three to four packs of cigarettes. It has 28 cancer-causing ingredients, Bender said. “I thought it was safer than smoking,” Bender said.

He then talked about electronic cigarettes. Nearly half to three-fourth of students raised their hand for knowing someone who used e-cigarettes.

Bender said the e-cigarettes contain nicotine that leads to heart disease. They also have nitrosamines, a cancer-causing compound in the vapor.

TOP STORY >> Discipline an issue in PCSSD

Leader staff writer

Black students made up 44.2 percent of the Pulaski County Special School District’s 2011-12 enrollment. But 63 percent of the students who were suspended last school year were black, only 2 percent less than in 2010-11.

These figures don’t bode well for the fiscally distressed PCSSD as it crawls toward a resolution of the decades-old desegregation case. Closing the gap in discipline rates between blacks and non-blacks is one of the goals listed in the district’s desegregation plan — known as Plan 2000.

PCSSD receives between $17 million and $20 million in desegregation money for programs like majority to minority transfers. If the district is declared desegregated, court supervision of PCSSD will end.

By comparison, the Cabot School District isn’t struggling with a gap. Its student population is 90 percent white, 4 percent Hispanic and 3 percent black. Less than half a percent of blacks receive discipline.

How is PCSSD combating disproportionate discipline rates?

The district is using a dual-approach that involves social and academic remedies, according to Brenda Bowles, assistant superintendent for equity and pupil services.

“You can’t separate the two. You have to look at the big picture. Schools are not just academic institutions. They’re social institutions. They’re interdependent,” Bowles said.

PCSSD has a discipline committee that meets every two or three months, she continued. The committee is helping the school pilot intervention and credit recovery programs.

During an intervention, a committee member or members, the principal, the teacher, the parents and a response to intervention staff member try to identify the cause for the student’s misbehavior and brainstorm solutions.

Bowles said, “It’s got to be prescriptive.”

She explained that when students are always late to class, those involved in the response-to-intervention program will ask them why they are always tardy. Parents would be informed of the problem and asked if they know the cause of the misbehavior.

“We want to do what can we do to make sure he comes to class,” Bowles said.

She said the cause could be bullying, that the student doesn’t realize he could fail a class because of his tardiness or it could be that the student’s previous class is on the other end of the school’s campus.

Solutions to the misbehavior could include having the student sign in when he comes to class and rewarding him for being on time, Bowles noted.

She said district officials are visiting schools with an excess of disciplinary problems or more of a disparity in their rates.

The schools with the greatest number of students suspended in the 2011-12 school year of students suspended in the 2011-12 school year were Bates Elementary School in Little Rock, Pinewood Elementary School in Jacksonville, Taylor Elementary School in Jackson-ville, Jacksonville High School, Jacksonville Middle School and Sylvan Hills High School in Sherwood.

PCSSD is also looking at whether there are cultural reasons related to black students misbehaving more than white students, whether more black students are victims of “special circumstances” and how repeat rule-breakers affect the gap.

The committee is compiling a report to explore why there is a gap in discipline rates between blacks and non-blacks. It should be completed by the end of the year, Bowles said.

PCSSD is also addressing academic needs that could be related to disciplinary problems, she continued.

One of the things the district is doing is allowing students who fail the first nine weeks of a class to repeat that part of the course during the second nine weeks.

In this way, a student can pass the class and not be retained, Bowles said. She explained that the new program also keeps a student from being discouraged, which can lead to misbehavior.

“We try to give students more success, better choices, better options. Research hasn’t supported retention,” she said.

Discipline is not one of the areas PCSSD asked U.S. District Judge D. Price Marshall to look at in the fall.

PCSSD attorney Sam Jones said the district submitted a status report this month requesting that the judge examine whether it has achieved unitary status in student assignment, advanced placement, gifted and talented and honor programs and special education and staffing.

The district expects the judge to hold a series of hearings in August and September on those issues, Jones said.

Plan 2000 requires that minorities be sufficiently represented in advanced placement classes and not over represented in special education classes, the recruiting of more minorities for professional positions and the elimination of one-race classrooms, he continued.

The state Education Department took control of PCSSD in 2011, disbanding the school board and replacing then-superintendent Charles Hopson with Dr. Jerry Guess.

Education Commissioner Tom Kimbrell is acting as the district’s one-man school board. Last month, he said he would ask the Legislature to extend the two years of supervision allowed by state law to five years. That would give PCSSD three more years to get out of fiscal distress.

No extension means that if the district isn’t out of fiscal distress by June the state can disband it, annex it to another district or move various schools to other districts.

The Cabot School District isn’t dealing with the problems PCSSD has, especially when it comes to disciplining black students.

Black students make up about 3 percent of the district’s enrollment. White students are about 90 percent of the student body while the second highest student population — about 4 percent — is Hispanic.

Of the 74 Cabot students who received corporal punishment last year, one student was black, one was of another race and 72 were white.

PCSSD doesn’t practice corporal punishment.

In Cabot, 37 black students, 41 students of another race and 743 white students received out-of-school suspension during 2011-12. Of the 1,118 Cabot students who received in-school suspension, 52 were black, 56 were of another race and 1,010 were white.

Of the 3,300 PCSSD students who were assigned to in-school suspension, 2,080 — 63 percent — were black.

Both of the districts saw more students punished with in-school suspension than with out-of-school suspension.

There were 81 more in-school suspensions in PCSSD than out-of-school suspensions.

In Cabot, there were 297 more in-school suspensions than out-of school suspensions.

According to Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, the state ranks 15th in the nation in the use of out-of-school suspension for all students and 13th in the gap between black and white students in out-of-school suspensions.

A news release from the organization makes the point that out-of-school suspension decreases the learning opportunities of the students who misbehave. Also, according to the National Opportunity to Learn Campaign, suspensions and expulsions can cause lower graduation rates and students with three or more suspensions by their sophomore year are five times more likely to drop out.

Bowles said a PCSSD student could receive five days of in-school suspension every year because of capacity issues. Those five days are usually split into half-days or a couple of days depending on what the punishment is for.

Bowles said, “Being out of school doesn’t help them pass (courses). It gives them more opportunity to get in trouble.”

She said alternative responses to correcting misbehavior include detention hall, a behavior contract, a school discipline management plan, a home school consultant or counselor, a mental health provider, a multi-age classroom, community service and mentoring programs.

Some of the rule violations that a student could receive out-of-school suspension for are gambling, smoking, fighting, theft, vandalism and sexual harassment, Bowles said. PCSSD does not have any zero-tolerance policies that automatically result in out-of-school suspension, she noted. But state law requires that a student who brings a gun to school be expelled, Bowles added.

Cabot Superintendent Tony Thurman said out-of-school suspension could vary from a few hours, typically for the remainder of the day on which the student misbehaves, up to 10 days depending on the behavior.

He continued, “We limit the amount of time a student is out of school as much as possible. It is very common, depending on the severity of a behavior, to do a combination of out-of-school and in-school suspension for the purpose of having the student attending school.”

Thurman said building administrators decide an appropriate punishment for a student who misbehaves. “The punishment and duration, if applicable, considered by our administrators should be set at the minimum level necessary to correct the misbehavior and provide an appropriate consequence,” he noted.

TOP STORY >> Boozman: Base a star

Leader senior staff writer

Congress isn’t likely to agree on alternative cost-cutting measures in time to head off sequestration — automatic budget cutting — on March 1, Sen. John Boozman (R-Republican) said Tuesday afternoon. But he said Little Rock Air Force Base is too strong and its mission too important to be severely hurt by those cuts. (See editorial, page 6A.)

“At some point, the Senate is going to have to pass a bill so it can go into conference with the House and work out some details,” the senator said.

Boozman said he believed the military was being disproportionately cut. “We want to redistribute where the cuts are coming from.”

Boozman, who met jointly and separately with the commanders of the four wings at the base, called the base “the superstar of the world for C-130s.”

“Lift capacity is always needed,” he said.

“Little Rock Air Force Base has a great story to tell,” he added.

“Central Arkansas and Arkansas depend on the base, as does the whole country,” he said of the pilot, crew and maintainer training, as well as the expeditionary 19th Airlift Wing, which provides airlift in support of military excursions and humanitarian efforts around the world.

He said he doesn’t believe sequestration or alternative budget cuts threaten the Air Force’s procurement of the state-of-the-art C-130Js. He added that he hoped that some sort of avionics upgrade for the older C-130s is still possible. “I would like to see an avionics upgrade go forward,” he said.

And, he said, no other base has the kind of community support that Little Rock Air Force Base has, as evidenced by the base’s winning of the Abilene Trophy for Air Mobility Wing base with greatest community support.


“We’re spending an extra trillion dollars a year. Forty-five cents of every dollar we spend is either borrowed or we’re printing it. You just can’t continue to do that forever. The military is taking the brunt of the cuts. It needs to be spread among everything.

“The super committee came up with a bunch of agreements, but couldn’t come up with a final agreement,” he said.

Boozman said members of the Arkansas congressional delegation fought unsuccessfully to keep the A-10 fighters at Fort Smith, but that the base there would convert to a center for unmanned aircraft.


“The threat is not the old Soviet-style threat, so the military is changing,” Boozman said.

With sequestration looming large, all governmental agencies — including the Air Force — are trying to figure out what they can most afford to axe or reduce in order to meet these mandatory budget cuts.

Sequestration, or automatic budget cuts, could start next week.

Unless Congress acts to make different cuts, the reduction of $1.2 trillion over a decade would be split evenly between defense and domestic spending.

In order to increase the 2011 U.S. debt ceiling so the government could pay its bills, Republicans insisted on $2 trillion in budget cuts. About half of that has been made, leaving the rest to be implemented now.


If sequestration occurs, it would cause the Air Force to have a $12.4 billion shortfall this year, “compounded by another $1.8 billion in overseas contingency operations, Air Force Vice Chief of Staff, Gen. Larry Spencer and Jamie Morin, the acting under secretary of the Air Force, told the press in Washington earlier this month.

Air Force-wide, additional cuts could include irreversible actions, Morin and Spencer said, including one measure that would halt “all but emergency facility repairs across the force.”

That could affect more than 400 projects across more than 140 bases, but result, they said, in only about $2.9 billion in savings.

Aircraft overdue for depot maintenance would be grounded until funds to service them become available later, Morin said.

That will result in serious inefficiency and reduction in operational capabilities, Morin said.

SPORTS STORY >> North girls drop title to Conway

Leader sportswriter

After a quarter of play, it looked as if the Cabot North Lady Panthers were on their way to the school’s first postseason tournament championship since 2006, but Conway Blue outplayed the host team from the second quarter on to win 48-38 and capture the Central Arkansas Junior High Conference championship Saturday at Panther Arena.

Lily Sinclair and Maddie Rice combined to score the first seven points of the game to give the North ladies a quick 7-0 lead. Futra Banks answered with five points for Conway Blue (19-3) to cut the North lead to two, but the Lady Panthers closed the quarter with a 5-0 run to lead 12-5 after a quarter of play.

The second quarter was a different story all together. A three pointer by Alexis Tolefree with 1:53 to play in the half gave Conway Blue its first lead with the score 15-14. Tolefree’s three capped off a 10-2 start for the Lady Wampus Cats.

MaKenzie Sexton, who scored all five of North’s points in the second quarter, scored her final points of the period on an and-one play with 1:29 to go, which gave the host Lady Panthers a 17-15 lead. But another three from Tolefree on Conway Blue’s ensuing possession gave the visiting team an 18-17 lead at halftime.

“We had a great start, but we didn’t close the second quarter like we wanted to,” said North coach Jeremy Halbrook. “We played them right after Christmas at home, and actually beat them by 10. So they got that back on us. CoCo Calhoun had 21 points the first time we played them. We rely on her to score the majority of our points, and she didn’t have that kind of game today.

“I was really proud of MaKenzie Sexton who came in off the bench. She got some good baskets for us. The effort was there. We just weren’t smart on some possessions and we needed to get her involved a little bit more, CoCo that is.”

Calhoun scored all seven of her points in the second half, two of which came in the third quarter.

Sinclair scored seven of North’s 10 third quarter points, but Tolefree and Banks combined to score 16 for Conway Blue in that time to give the Lady Wampus Cats a 34-27 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Conway Blue increased its lead at the start of the fourth with a 4-0 scoring run. The Lady Panthers did all they could to make a run late, but could never put a serious dent in the Lady Wampus Cats’ lead.

Near the 2:00 mark, Calhoun scored her final basket on a three pointer from the corner that cut Conway Blue’s lead to 43-36, but the Lady Wampus Cats outscored the Lady Panthers 5-2 down the stretch to set the final score.

“Their two players brought it today,” Halbrook said of Tolefree and Banks. “You could see (No.) 5 and (No.) 32 were their go-to girls. They brought it today. But I’m proud of them (North girls). They’ve all done good and they’ve worked hard this whole season. From their stretch from seventh grade to now, I think they lost three games in seventh grade, eighth grade lost one, and we lost six this year.

“So we can’t complain. Our goal was to win our conference, which we did. Of course we’d like to finish off winning the tournament, but we fell one game short. It was a good year. We can’t be ashamed. We finished 18-6 as our final record. This has been one of the better groups we’ve had at North.”

Sexton led the North ladies with 13 points. Sinclair scored 12 and grabbed six rebounds. Calhoun also had six rebounds to go with her seven points. Tolefree scored a game-high 25 points and had six steals. Banks had a great all-around game as she totaled 21 points, 10 rebounds, six steals and three blocks.

SPORTS STORY >> Jackson to play at women’s final four

Leader sports editor

Jacksonville basketball sensation Jessica Jackson has been named to the Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Association All-American Team, and will play in the WBCA high-school All-American game in New Orleans on April 6 during the women’s NCAA final four, which will be played April 5 through April 9.

Jackson, who called a press conference in November to make a verbal commitment to the University of Arkansas, has averaged 24 points and 12 rebounds this season for the Lady Red Devils. Jackson is joined on the team by Little Rock Hall standout Tyler Scaife and the two become only the second and third players from Arkansas to make the WBCA All-American team. The only other Arkansas player to ever make this elite team was Osceola’s Ruby Vaden in 2002.

“I feel it’s an honor,” Jackson said. “I was very blessed and happy when I got it. It’s an honor to be an All American any way it goes so I was very excited.”

Jackson, 6-foot-2, is the only player that will participate in the game that hasn’t yet signed an NCAA letter of intent, though she remains committed to her verbal declaration in November to sign with the University of Arkansas.

Duke and North Carolina each have three signees playing in the game to lead all NCAA teams. The 20 All Americans will be divided into two teams of 10, though the teams have not been announced.

Despite how they are divided, Jackson expects it to be challenging.

“I think it’s going to be fun,” Jackson said. “The hardest thing will be playing all the top girls around the nation. So I think it’s going to be fun but hard.”

Jackson and the No. 1 ranked Lady Devils just set a school record by running through conference play undefeated, and hope to bring home the school’s first state championship in girls basketball in early March.

“That’s our goal,” Jackson said. “We have a lot to improve but I think we have what it takes to win it all if we’re willing to work for it.”

SPORTS STORY >> Jacksonville defeats PA

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville Lady Red Devils had already locked up at least a share of the conference championship and the No. 1 seed in the state tournament from the 5A Central Conference, but that didn’t stop senior guard Jessica Jackson saving one of her best performances of the season for senior night on Friday. Jackson scored 30 points and pulled down 15 rebounds in the Lady Red Devils 58-48 win over Pulaski Academy in Jacksonville’s final home game.

Jackson played her final game at JHS and admitted she wanted to have a great performance in her final home game, and set out to do it.

“It was my last time to ever play in the Devil’s Den so I was like, I’m just going to leave it out there,” Jackson said. “I had a lot of fun. They came out and played well. They really slowed us down and we’re not used to that. But we got the win.”

Jacksonville (20-4, 13-0) never trailed, but also never put the game away until late in the fourth quarter. The Lady Red Devils built a 12-5 lead early in the first quarter, but the Lady Bruins scored six straight to make it 12-11 with 20 seconds left in the opening frame. Jackson scored to end the quarter and the Lady Devils scored the first nine points of the second for a 23-11 lead with 2:45 remaining in the half. Pulaski Academy finally got on the board in the second quarter, but still went into intermission trailing by 11 at 27-16.

Jacksonville scored first in the third quarter for a 13-point lead, but the Bruins scored the next seven in a row to make it 29-23 with 5:20 left in the third.

Jacksonville then went on a 10-0 run with Jackson scoring eight of those points for a 39-23 lead with 1:20 on the clock in the third period.

The Lady Bruins (11-9, 8-4) trimmed the lead to 10 three times in the fourth quarter, but could never break the double-digit barrier again.

Jackson led all players in points and rebounds. She also finished with a remarkable five steals, four assists and seven blocked shots.

Guards Shakyla Hill and Tiffany Smith scored 10 points apiece for the Lady Red Devils.

Pulaski Academy guard Mackie Kuhn scored 16 points to lead the Lady Bruins. Liana Krisht added nine for PA.

The win assures the Lady Red Devils of an outright conference championship, their first in nearly two decades. Still, Jackson believes her team has some things to improve before the state tournament begins on Feb. 26 at the Pine Bluff Convention Center.

“We have a lot to improve before state,” Jackson said. “We have to be more serious and work harder in practice. We have to put in more running work and get in better condition. And we have to be more ready to play at tip off, and not start slow like we did tonight and against Little Rock Christian.”

SPORTS STORY >> Red Devils seal up No. 1 seed by beating PA

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville Red Devils sealed up the No. 1 seed from the 5A Central with a 51-35 win over Pulaski Academy on Friday. The win doesn’t yet secure an outright league championship.

Even if the Red Devils lose a major upset to Sylvan Hills in their season finale, and second-place McClellan wins, leaving both teams with identical 12-2 conference records, Jacksonville (20-4, 12-1) owns the tiebreaker by virtue of its two wins over the Crimson Lions in conference play. A win over Sylvan Hills in last night’s game after deadlines, means another outright conference championship for Jacksonville.

The Bruins entered the game with no intentions of letting Jacksonville cruise to a No. 1 seed. Though Jacksonville led the entire game, they couldn’t shake the Bruins and seal the win until late in the game.

Jacksonville built a double-digit lead early in the second quarter, but Pulaski Academy cut into that lead then, and the next three times the lead grew to double figures. Jacksonville coach Vic Joyner gave the Bruins all the credit for staying in the game when they were on the ropes so many times.

“I don’t think we let up on them,” Joyner said. “I think they bowed their backs and made some plays. When they had to have a basket, they got aggressive and got to the rim. That team plays hard.”

Jacksonville’s first double-digit lead came with a run early in the second quarter. Jacksonville led 17-7 before the Bruins scored eight unanswered to make it 17-15 with a minute left in the first half. Jacksonville’s Sergio Berkley got a three-point play before halftime to send the Red Devils into intermission with a five-point lead.

Jacksonville scored six points in a hurry to start the third quarter, quickly turning a close game into an 11-point advantage for the home team at 26-15. Both teams bogged down at that point.

Neither team scored for the next two minutes and 30 seconds. Jacksonville’s Brandon Brockman broke the scoreless streak with a three-point play that made it 29-15 with 3:36 left in the third quarter. The play was sparked by an offensive rebound and brilliant pass by junior guard Sergio Berkley.

Berkley stayed with a ball that was being bounced around by several players from both teams. When he finally gained control along the baseline to the left of the goal, he used stellar court awareness to pass the ball backwards over his left shoulder to Brockman, who was standing underneath the basket. Berkley, a guard who came off the bench late in the first quarter, finished with a game-high nine rebounds.

The Bruins finally broke a long scoreless streak 23 seconds later when reserve guard Chad Michaels got a putback. On the ensuing possession, Pulaski Academy’s Brandon Brady got a steal out of the Bruins’ press and scored to make it 39-29 with 2:47 left in the third quarter.

Michaels’ bucket with 3:23 left in the third was PA’s first points of the second half, and first since a 1:10 remained in the first half.

After Brady’s initial steal and layup, the Pulaski Academy press failed to be effective. The Bruins usually run a 3-2 zone defense, but in the face of the deficit, it tried full and half-court pressure to get back into the game. Both presses yielded several layups and free throws for Jacksonville.

“That’s certainly not the original game plan when you play Jacksonville,” Pulaski Academy coach Roger Franks said. “But at a certain point you have to try whatever you think gives you the best chance to win the game. I felt like we had to try something else to have a chance to win it, and it just didn’t work. Jacksonville is a very talented team with a very good point guard in No. 4 (Justin McCleary).”

Joyner believes that Pulaski Academy’s unfamiliarity with running a press defense was the reason his team beat it so easily.

“When you’ve face Mills’ press, Jonesboro’s press, McClellan’s press, and then you face a team that’s not used to doing it, it’s not that hard,” Joyner said. “A press depends on everybody moving in unison. If you’re not used to pressing and you’re not moving together like you need to be for a press to be effective, you can beat a press pretty easily, especially when you’ve faced as many teams as we have that press so efficiently.”

Jacksonville again won the rebounding battle 34-24, but trailed 14-13 in that category at halftime.

“We were allowing ourselves to get boxed out,” Joyner said of his team’s first half play. “When the ball is in the air, you have to fight for position. We’re taller than they are, but we were getting outworked in the first half. So we talked about that at halftime and the players responded to that.”

Brockman and Keith Charleston led Jacksonville with 12 points each. McCleary added 10 for the Red Devils. Brady was the only Bruin in double figures with 14 points. Jacksonville was only 33 percent from the floor on 19 of 57 shooting, including an abysmal 3 of 17 (17 percent) from three-point range.

The Bruins (11-7, 7-4) weren’t much better and took far fewer shots. They were 11 of 41 from the floor and 2 of 8 from outside the arc.

SPORTS STORY >> Badgers after top seed for playoffs

Leader sportswriter

The combined scoring attack of Austin Burroughs and Zach Baker proved too much for visiting Nettleton as Beebe eased its way to a 56-44 victory over the Raiders at Badger Sports Arena on Friday to stay atop the 5A East Conference standings.

The Badgers (19-6, 10-2) pushed their advantage to 46-22 by the end of the third quarter before going with subs for most of the final period. Burroughs, Beebe’s dynamic senior forward, finished with 20 points while junior post player Baker was right behind him with 18 points to make up all but eight of the Badgers’ total points.

Three inside shots by Baker in the first quarter, along with a pair of three-point baskets by Burroughs in the opening eight minutes, gave the Badgers an early 12-6 lead through one, and the hosts never looked back.

“That’s something we’ve been wanting the last few weeks is a much better start,” Beebe coach Ryan Marshall said. “Austin putting the ball in the hole the way he did obviously helped that out. I thought we were locked in pretty well defensively. The thing I really liked about it was we got up and never really gave them a chance of winning.”

Both teams had a decent night percentage wise as Beebe went 49 percent (20 of 41) from the floor while the Raiders were 44 percent (19 of 43). The biggest difference for the Badgers was their rebounding advantage in which they finished with 25 boards while holding Nettleton to 13 rebounds.

Senior post player Jared Gowen led the Badgers on the rebounding front with six, many of which he pulled from the reach of unsuspecting Nettleton players underneath.

“Jared has been such a plus for us,” Marshall said. “For two years as a sophomore and junior, he practiced and busted his butt every day. He didn’t get to play a lot of minutes, and of course this year, he’s started for us 90 percent of the time. He does what he can do, and that’s part of having a good ball club is having kids who know their role. He’s just really been a pleasure to have.”

The Raiders doubled their points in the final frame as Beebe sat out most of its starters, particularly junior point guard Tanner Chapman, who has started the past two games despite a nagging knee injury. It is believed Chapman tore his meniscus against Batesville back on Feb. 5.

“We had a couple of kids who needed to rest from an injury standpoint,” Marshall said. “We didn’t want to keep them out there. Don’t think that group didn’t hear about it in the locker room about giving up what they gave up. We don’t want to finish games like that.”

With the victory, the Badgers clinched a spot in the 5A state playoffs regardless of how the final week of conference plays out.

Beebe hosted Wynne last night in a game that could provide redemption after the Yellowjackets embarrassed the Badgers 67-27 last month in Wynne.

Beebe has to win that game or its final East game against Paragould on Friday in order to clinch the conference title outright.

SPORT STORY >> Lonoke loses its lead in fourth quarter

Leader sportswriter

NEWPORT – Adversity finally caught up with Lonoke as the Jackrabbits lost their grip on the lead late against Dollarway in a 45-38 loss to the Cardinals in the 4A-2 District Finals at Greyhound Fieldhouse on Saturday.

The rubber match between the two teams was the result of their dominant runs in the 4A-2 Conference during the regular season. Dollarway played as the home team on the scoreboard by virtue of winning the conference with a 13-1 record with its only league loss coming to Lonoke, which finished 12-2 in conference to earn the No. 2 seed entering the tournament.

Lonoke played through the district tournament without head coach Dean Campbell, who was forced to sit out due to a strong case of influenza. Assistant coach Heath Swiney led the Jackrabbits to victory in their semifinal-round game over Clinton on Thursday, and looked to be in a good spot in the second half against Dollarway until the Cardinals rallied early in the fourth quarter to seize momentum down the stretch.

“The disappointment was, we had a chance to push it to six or eight there and missed a couple of shots right at the basket,” Swiney said. “Their length bothers you. We got a little rushed and just missed a couple of those layups there that probably would have sealed the game.”

It was a game of clear and definite momentum shifts as the ’Rabbits struggled early with 12 straight misses to start the game.

Lonoke spent the rest of the game recuperating percentage wise after a 1 of 13 start from the floor in the first quarter, finishing 12 of 45 on the game for 27 percent. The Cardinals got off to a slightly better start at 3 of 7 for the opening period and finished 16 of 39 for 41 percent.

“We had a long layover,” Dollarway coach Ellis Berry said. “It kind of hurt us, but the guys picked it up on defense in the third quarter. Coming out of halftime, we got two quick steals, and that’s really what got us going.”

Turnovers played a big role as Lonoke gave the ball away 18 times and Dollarway committed 16 turnovers, all but six of which came in the first half. Kabian Enjo grabbed a steal he converted with a layup to begin the second half, cutting the Jackrabbits’ seven-point margin at the break to 20-15, and Josh Liddell picked up the steal for the Cardinals on the next Lonoke possession that turned into a dunk at the 7:16 mark to make it 20-17.

Lonoke made the most of its momentum in the second quarter after a slow start. Jamel Rankin put a point up for the Jackrabbits in the first 20 seconds when he hit the back end of a two-shot foul, and Blake Mack added two more foul shots at the 5:08 mark to tie the game at 3-3. The first shot from the floor did not come until 1:21 remaining in the opening period when post player Reid McKenzie took a bounce-pass assist in the lane from Rankin and scored to tie the game at 5-5.

Dollarway tied the game at 32-32 to start the fourth quarter but the Jackrabbits responded with back-to-back baskets from junior guard Darrius McCall to put Lonoke back on top 36-32 by the 4:39 mark. The ’Rabbits had a chance to extend the lead to six, but Mack was called for a charging foul while working his way into the lane for his fourth personal with 3:50 to play.

Although the Jackrabbits came up short on the scoreboard, their gutsy performance in the absence of their head coach spoke to their character, especially with their assistant coach.

“Their maturity level has impressed me,” Swiney said. “They’ve done a great job, and that’s what I told them. They’ve responded well to coach Campbell being out, because it’s different when your head coach is out. They’ve done really well in practice for me, and I’m just proud of them and their maturity level. We will be glad when coach Campbell comes back.”

McCall led the Jackrabbits with 13 points while Mack added 12 points. Rankin and senior guard Dra Offord led rebounding with seven each.

For Dollarway, Dequan Christmas led with 17 points while Davone Chapman had nine points and 10 rebounds.

With the win, Dollarway takes the No. 1 seed from 4A-2 into this week’s 4A East Region tournament at Heber Springs, and will face 4A-3 No. 4 seed Jonesboro Westside today at 5:30 p.m. Lonoke is the No. 2 seed from 4A-2 and will take on 4A-3 No. 3 seed Pocahontas Thursday at 8:30 p.m.