Friday, December 12, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> One-man show not enough at Lonoke

Leader sports editor

The Lonoke Lady Jackrabbits rebounded from back-to-back losses at the Conway St. Joseph tournament to earn a conference win on Tuesday, beating Helena-West Helena Central 70-41 at the Gina Cox Center.

Central features one of the top sophomores in the state in Kevonshaye Stackhouse, but features little else. Stackhouse scored 28 of her team’s 41 points, but was worn out by the fourth quarter.

“She scored 28 and I still thought Kimistri (Ballance) did a great job defending her,” said Lonoke coach Nathan Morris. “I’ll take my chances on a kid shooting a 35-footer. They’re not going to make a high percentage. I don’t care who they are. And if you go out and guard her that far away, she’s going to run around you and get the rebound. We let her shoot outside tonight and she made some, but we made it really hard for her to penetrate and she didn’t get to the line that much.

“We put Kimistri on her and then we used Amanda (Sexton), who’s also a good defender. But I told them when we go to Helena we’re going to need Kimistri, Amanda and one other one. There’s probably going to be some foul issues when we play them there.”

The first quarter became a shooting contest between Stackhouse and Lonoke junior Jarrelyn McCall. The difference was the quality of other players on the floor.

McCall and Stackhouse each hit a pair of 3-pointers in the opening frame, but Lonoke also got four points apiece from Sexton, Eboni Willis and point guard Kerasha Johnson.

Meanwhile, Central was all about Stackhouse and the Lady Jackrabbits held a 20-14 lead by the end of the fast-paced first quarter.

It was still close throughout the second period. Five different Jackrabbits scored one bucket apiece and Lonoke took a 32-25 lead into the break.

Lonoke stepped up the pressure on Stackhouse and no one else from Central stepped up at all in the third quarter.

Lonoke held the Cougars to just six points in the period, all by Stackhouse, and she had to work hard for all six.

Meanwhile, Willis, Lonoke’s center, began to assert herself inside and Central had no answer.

She finished the game with a 16-point, 13-rebound double-double, including 10 points and eight rebounds in the second half.

“She went to get the ball and had some lanes to go get it,” Morris said of Willis. “She didn’t accept being blocked out. She worked to get in those lanes and went and got it. It was probably her best game of the season so far. We need that from her every night.”

The Lady Jackrabbits held a 45-31 lead by the end of the third, and with Stackhouse slowing down, blew it open in the fourth.

McCall led Lonoke with 18 points while Sexton added 14 points and six rebounds. Johnson was also in double figures, finishing with 11 points and six assists.

The Lady Rabbits, 5-3, 2-1, played at Stuttgart on Friday and will travel to Searcy to play Riverview on Monday in another 4A-2 Conference matchup.