Tuesday, December 23, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> NP Falcons roll Lonoke in first win

Leader sportswriter

North Pulaski jumped out to a 10-0 lead against Lonoke on Friday at the Gina Cox Center, and the visiting Falcons never looked back, winning the nonconference matchup by the final score of 68-45.

It was the first win of the season for the Falcons, who lost their first seven games of the season before Friday night’s game.

North Pulaski coach Roy Jackson was pleased with the effort his players gave Friday, and credited the win to their ability to finally bring the same level of intensity they’ve displayed in practice to the game.

“The kids played hard,” said Jackson. “The last week we’ve been out for semester exams and have finally been able to get some good practices in. We just took that same intensity to the game, and that’s what I was looking for.

“Can we take what we do in practice and execute in the game, and I think we did a good job of that. It started with our defense.”

North Pulaski’s defense forced 12 Lonoke turnovers in the first half, eight of which came in the first quarter. After trailing 10-0, the Jackrabbits (3-6, 2-3) finally got on the board with a Justin Meadows free throw with 3:18 left in the opening quarter.

Meadows also made Lonoke’s first field goal shortly after, but the Falcons (1-7) got their lead back to 10 on an and-1 by Brandon England with 1:59 remaining. Meadows added the final bucket of the quarter, though, to make the score 13-5 after one.

Lonoke was able to get into more of an offensive rhythm in the second quarter, and got within two of North Pualski’s lead with consecutive buckets by Yancy Cooney that made the score 18-16 at the midway point of the quarter.

That was as close as Lonoke would get the rest of the way, though, as the Falcons answered with a 6-1 run and led 28-21 at halftime.

The Falcons got their lead back to 10 at the six-minute mark of the third quarter on a steal and transition layup by De’Marik Brown, which made the score 35-25, and North Pulaski led by as much as 51-27.

That score was set on Brown’s third and-1 of the quarter, which came with 2:54 remaining. Lonoke, though, ended the third quarter on a 7-0 run that made the score 51-34 heading into the fourth.

North Pulaski opened the fourth quarter with a 6-0 run that pushed its lead to 23, leading 57-34. The last two points of the run came on two free throws by Breon Baker, which came as the result of a technical foul that was called on Lonoke coach Dean Campbell with 5:39 left to play.

Campbell was arguing a no-call on Lonoke’s previous possession. On that possession, Meadows was knocked to the floor while attempting a layup in transition, and no foul was called.

Lonoke’s first points of the fourth came on a free throw by Jawaun Bryant with 5:07 remaining, which made the score 57-35, but North Pulaski responded with a 9-2 run that gave the Falcons their largest lead at 66-37.

The Jackrabbits were able to avoid the mercy rule, though, and cleaned up the score as the game came to a close, with the final score being set on a steal and slam by Bryant with 11 seconds remaining.

North Pulaski finished the game 28 of 48 from the floor for 58 percent. Lonoke, conversely, made 17 of 44 shot attempts for 39 percent. The Falcons outrebounded the Rabbits 24-16, and had five fewer turnovers than Lonoke, who finished with 22.

Brown led all scorers with 20 points. Two other Falcons scored in double figures Friday. Baker had 15 points and Jalen Kelly added 13. Bryant led Lonoke with 14 points, and like NP, two other Rabbits scored in double figures. Meadows and teammate Nick Bates each had 10 points.