Friday, December 19, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Raiders run away from Jackrabbits

Leader sports editor

SEARCY – The Lonoke Lady Jackrabbits suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of undefeated Riverview on Monday. The Lady Raider full-court pressure wreaked havoc on Lonoke as the home team officially pulled out a 61-33 victory.

That’s the score that will go down in the books, but the actual score was 61-31. Late in the third quarter, Riverview led 56-18 when Kayla Young got her final steal and scored, but the scorekeeper and scoreboard operator gave the basket to Lonoke.

At quarter’s end, Riverview was given credit for the basket, but the one erroneously given to Lonoke was never taken off the board.

It almost helped the Lady Jackrabbits avoid the mercy rule. Despite Riverview coach Ryan Smith continuing to press with his starters until the final minute of the game, the Lady Jackrabbits held their own in the final period. It wasn’t until Lady Raider bench players took the floor that the home team officially went up by 30 with 36 seconds remaining on the final basket of the game. It was Riverview’s 11th mercy-rule win in its 13 games.

“We just ran into a better team than us tonight, that’s all,” said Lonoke coach Nathan Morris. “Although I don’t think they’re really 30 points better than us. We did a lot of things tonight that helped them get that far out in front.”

Lonoke committed 22 turnovers, including 20 in the first three quarters. All but three were Riverview steals, and the lion’s share was by Young.

A key turning point was late in the first quarter. Riverview had stormed out to a 7-0 lead that shortly became 10-2 with 3:52 left in the period. Lonoke stemmed the tide of early turnovers temporarily, but still struggled to score.

Finally, Lonoke junior Jarrelyn McCall hit a 3-pointer with 1:30 left in the quarter that made it 10-5. Lonoke center Eboni Willis then blocked a Riverview shot and grabbed the rebound. Forward Amanda Sexton was fouled at the other end and went to the line with 55 seconds remaining. She missed both foul shots.

Riverview’s Sharika Irvine was then fouled driving to the basket and made both free throws with 42 seconds remaining. She then got a steal and missed a transition bucket, but Riverview got two offensive rebounds and Madison Riley hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the home team a 10-point lead.

“I think this might possibly have been a different game if that sequence is a little different,” Morris said. “They jumped on us pretty good, and we climb back to five with a chance to make it three. Next thing you know we’re down 10. We have to do better at taking advantage of our opportunities.”

Lonoke continued to battle evenly with Riverview for most of the second quarter. The margin was still 10 after Lonoke’s Ashlyn Allen got a putback with 1:40 remaining. But Riverview closed with a 4-0 run. Erykah Johns hit two free throws with 1:32 left to make it 25-13. Lonoke then missed the front end of a one-and-one trip to the line. Allen got the offensive rebound, but Riverview’s Alexis Baker stole the ball and passed to Irvine for a layup at the buzzer.

It didn’t take long for the Lady Raiders to go on another run in the third quarter. The two teams traded two baskets each in the first three minutes of the period to make it 31-17. That’s where Riverview took off. The Lady Raiders got steal after steal for a 15-1 run before Lonoke was given credit for a Riverview basket.

Young led Riverview with 15 points and had eight steals. Riley and Johns added 11 each for the home team. McCall led Lonoke with nine points.

Lonoke hosted North Pulaski on Friday in a nonconference matchup. Look for details of those games in Wednesday’s edition of The Leader.