Friday, February 14, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Rabs get their revenge on Clinton

Leader sportswriter

With a 49-37 win at Newport on Monday, and a close 46-40 win over Clinton on Tuesday at home, the Lonoke Lady Jackrabbits locked up the 4A-2 Conference’s No. 2 seed for next week’s District Tournament.

Tuesday’s conference matchup at the Gina Cox Center had a lot riding on the outcome of the game. Clinton (14-7, 7-4) beat Lonoke (19-6, 11-2) at its place last month, and had the Lady Yellow Jackets been able to come out on top again in the rematch, they’d currently be sitting in the No. 2 spot as far as seeding goes for the district tournament.

Even though the Lady Rab-bits got their revenge Tuesday, Lonoke coach Nathan Morris said his team still has a lot to play for before district tournament play begins Monday at Marianna.

“It’s good enough that Clinton has to play a game (in the district tournament) before they play us again,” said Morris. “I fully expect we’ll see them again next Thursday night. It’s not so much about No. 2; we’ve still got some unfinished business to take care of here Friday night with Heber Springs.

“We lost a four-point game there and had a chance, and then the next week (against Clinton) we slipped up on that game. Hopefully, our kids haven’t forgotten about what we’ve done in those two road games. So, we’ll see how it comes out.”

Lonoke played host to top-seeded Heber Springs, who’s undefeated in 4A-2 play this season, last night after deadlines. Look for details of that game in Wednesday’s edition of The Leader.

The Lady Rabbits led 8-5 at the end of the first quarter Tuesday, and 18-16 at halftime. However, it should’ve been an 18-14 lead at halftime. Leading by the four-point margin, Lonoke held the ball for the last shot of the half, but Clinton forced a turnover around the perimeter.

Clinton’s Tori Johnson, who hit two 3-pointers in the first half, got the steal and pushed the ball up the floor. As the final seconds ticked away, Johnson started to pull up for a 3-point attempt, but decided to keep dribbling toward the basket.

Just after time expired, Johnson put up a shot inside and it fell through, and as the two teams started walking to the locker rooms, one official signaled for the basket to count, which Morris vehemently argued.

Despite Morris’ protest, the basket counted, and the score was 18-16 Lonoke at halftime as a result.

In the second half, Lonoke played angry at the start, and opened the half with a 10-2 run to give the host team its first double-digit lead at 28-18. Clinton, however, didn’t go away so easy and steadily grinded its way back into the game. At the end of the third quarter, Lonoke’s lead was cut to three with the score 32-29.

Johnson drained her third 3-pointer of the game on the first possession of the fourth quarter, which tied the score at 32-32. The Lady Jackets took a two-point lead with 3:32 to play on an and-1 by Hannah Stoltzfus, which made the score 38-36.

Lonoke, however, tied the game on two free throws by Kerasha Johnson, and Johnson put Lonoke back on top 40-38 with a steal and layup on the Lady Jackets’ next possession.

The Lady Rabbits never relinquished the lead from there, and with 16.4 seconds remaining, Jarrelyn McCall set the final score with a pair of free throws.

Lonoke made 15 of 41 shots from the floor for 37 percent, outrebounded Clinton 24-21, and had 10 turnovers in the game. Clinton made 12 of 36 shots for 33 percent, and finished with 16 turnovers.

Eboni Willis led all scorers with 22 points. McCall had 15, and Kerasha Johnson finished with seven. Stoltzfus led Clinton with 13 points, all of which came in the second half.