Friday, November 21, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Jackrabbits top Carlisle

Leader sportswriter

The veteran-led Lady Jackrabbits’ basketball team dominated visiting Carlisle from the start of their nonconference game Tuesday night at the Gina Cox Center, as Lonoke improved to 2-0 on the season with a 62-31 win over the Lady Bison.

Lonoke, a team that returns every key player from last year’s group that advanced to the Class 4A quarterfinals, led 16-1 after the first quarter. The Lady Bison (1-1), of Class 2A, were able to find more offense in the second and third quarters, but the early deficit was far too much to overcome the more talented and experienced host team.

“I thought we did a better job of competing in the second and third quarters,” said Carlisle coach Jonathan Buffalo. “It’s tough when you spot a team that good with that much experience a 16-1 lead in their own gym.

“We went on a little run in the second quarter and cut it to 18-12. I told them before coming over here, play hard and compete, because the next 18 games we play are the most important 18 games we’ll play all year.

“We only get two nonconference games, so we wanted to see what we could do, and test ourselves a little bit.”

Carlisle’s 11-2 run to open the second quarter began on a free throw by freshman starter Kylie Warren 44 seconds into the quarter, and ended with a 3-pointer by Molli Weems, which cut the Lonoke lead to 18-12 with 2:37 left in the half.

Lonoke coach Nathan Morris called timeout after Weems’ three, and the Lady Jackrabbits closed the first half with a 9-2 run to lead 27-14 at the break.

Carlisle enjoyed its best quarter, offensively, in the third, despite Warren sitting most of it after picking up her fourth foul with two minutes left in the second quarter. The Lady Bison scored 14 points in the third, but Lonoke maintained its double-digit lead at the start of the fourth.

The third quarter ended on a 3-pointer by Lonoke’s Jarrelyn McCall, which gave the host team a 44-28 advantage going into the final eight minutes. Warren picked up her fifth foul 12 seconds into the fourth, and 35 seconds later, Lonoke pushed its lead to 20 on a short baseline jumper by McCall, which made the score 48-28.

McCall then went on a scoring tear till being pulled near the 4:30 mark of the fourth, with Lonoke leading comfortably. The Lady Rabbits doubled the Lady Bison’s point total for the evening on a short jumper in the middle of the lane by senior guard Callie Whitfield with 1:40 remaining, which also set the final score.

Morris was pleased, for the most part, with the way his team played in transition Tuesday, and although Lonoke got the win in a big way, he notices some areas where his group will need to improve before conference play begins next week.

“We’re pushing the ball pretty well,” said Morris. “We’re getting it up and down the floor in transition, and that’s a plus, but we’re still not talking in transition very well. Defensively, we’re not quite rebounding the way we want to, and we’ve got to work on our shot selection a little bit.”

Morris was definitely pleased, though, with the way his leading scorer from a season ago performed throughout the second half, especially in the fourth quarter.

“She’s got a very good jump shot,” Morris said of McCall. “She’s got a good base, good balance, she elevates well, keeps those elbows high – she’s just a pretty dang-good jump-shooter, and midrange at that.”

Lonoke finished the game 21 of 53 from the floor for 40 percent. The Lady Rabbits made 17 of 28 foul shots for 61 percent, and outrebounded the Lady Bison 28-21. Lonoke finished with 13 turnovers; Carlisle had 29 turnovers in the game, but just eight in the second half.

The Lady Bison went 12 of 38 from the floor for 32 percent, and made 4 of 10 free throws for 40 percent.

McCall led all scorers with 20 points – 15 of which came in the second half. Amanda Sexton also had double-digit points. She finished with 13, and a team-high six rebounds. Whitfield had eight points. Kerasha Johnson had six points and a game-high six steals, and Ashlyn Allen added five points.

For Carlisle, Elex McClain led the way with 12 points. She also had five rebounds. Weems had seven points. Warren added six points, and Kayla Golleher had a team-high six rebounds.

Lonoke plays again next Tuesday at home against Heber Springs in the 4A-2 Conference opener.

Carlisle’s next game will be Tuesday, Dec. 2 at Palestine-Wheatley, which will be the 2A-6 Conference opener. Both games are scheduled to tipoff at 6 p.m.