Friday, June 13, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Gwatney earns first victory in final at-bat

Leader sports editor

The Gwatney Chevrolet Senior American Legion team picked up its first win of the season Thursday at Dupree Park, beating Searcy 3-2 with a run in the bottom of the seventh inning.

The inning started with leadoff hitter Courtland McDonald, who had not had a good game going 0 for 3 with two strikeouts, hitting a high hopper down the third baseline and beating the throw to first. That throw was in the dirt and got by the Searcy first baseman, allowing McDonald to take second base. Ryan Mallison, who was 3 for 3 at the time, grounded out to shortstop but advanced McDonald to third base.

Blake Perry then grounded to shortstop, where a fielding error allowed McDonald to score the winning run.

Searcy took the lead in the topof the second inning with a single run off pitcher James Tucker. Jacksonville tied it in the third. D.J. Scott singled with one out and took second base on a wild pitch. With two outs, Mallison singled to right field to drive him home.

Jacksonville took the lead in the bottom of the sixth when Laderrious Perry hit an infield single to lead things off. He moved to second base on a sacrifice grounder by Deaundray Harris. With two outs and facing a 0-2 pitch, Scott got his second base hit of the game, this one for the RBI and go-ahead run.

Searcy got the run back and tied it in the top of the seventh off a walk and a double down the third baseline to set up Jacksonville’s game-winning inning.

Tucker went the distance on the mound, giving up five hits while striking out five and walking just two.

The Jacksonville junior team managed just three base hits in an 8-0 loss.

SPORTS STORY >> Sharks win first meet by wide margin

Leader sportswriter

The Sherwood Sharks swim team began its season with a dominant performance at Otter Creek last Saturday. The Sharks totaled 929 points at the two-team meet, easily outpointing the host Otters, who finished the meet with 254 team points.

Sherwood had its most dominant performances in the lower age groups. In the 7-8-year-old age group, Sharks’ swimmers Michael Potts and Madelyn Morrow won every event they competed in.

Dillon Wood and Avery Ballany also won every event they competed in. Those two competed in the 9-10-year-old age group. Joseph Potts and Alaya Smith won every event they competed in in the 11-12-year-old group, and Thomas Heye, 15, won every event he competed in in the 15-18-year-old age group.

Despite the early success, Sharks coach Mary Jo Heye is cautiously optimistic about the season ahead.

“We are not the biggest team anymore, and it has to hurt us that there have not been swim lessons at our Rec. Center in about a year, and none of our local high schools have a team like our competitors in Bryant, Conway and Cabot,” said Heye.

“However, this team has a lot of heart, works really hard, and knows this is going to be our toughest year in recent memory.”

Even though Sherwood may be facing some tougher competition down the road, the Sharks showed what they could do against the Otters. In the first set of races, Avery Godbee of Sherwood won the 50-meter freestyle in the 15-18-year-old age group with a time of 34.03, which was good for a gold finish.

For the 11-12-year-olds in that race, Sherwood’s Joseph Potts posted the best time for the boys at 31.09, and Smith had the best time for the girls, clocking in at 32.62 seconds. Both times were good for platinum finishes.

In the 9-10-year-old freestyle races, Wood had the best time for the boys at 36.39 seconds, but fellow Shark Ballany posted the best overall time for either group, finishing in 36.33 seconds.

Michael Potts clocked in the best time in the 7-8-year-old 25-meter freestyle race as he finished in 17.21 seconds. Sherwood’s Morrow had the best girls’ time with an 18.28 finish.

Jacob Dunn won the 6-under 25-meter freestyle race with a gold time of 27.79. Sophie Gaylord, another Shark swimmer in that age group, clocked in at 29.38 for the best time in the girls’ division.

Dunn also topped the other swimmers in the 25-meter backstroke for the lower age group. He finished in 34.02, while fellow Shark Sami Stafford posted a slightly better time in the girls’ division of that age group, finishing in 33.43. Both times were good for gold finishes.

Of course, Michael Potts and Morrow shined the brightest amongst the 7-8-year-olds. After posting the best overall times in the freestyle race, Michael Potts won the 25-meter backstroke, breaststroke and 100-meter individual medley, while Morrow posted best times in the breaststroke, butterfly and 100-meter IM.

Michael Potts finished the backstroke in 20.79, the breaststroke in 23.38, and the 100-meter IM in 1:35.45. Morrow finished the breaststroke in 24.38, the butterfly in 19.99, and the 100-meter IM in 1:47.85, which was good for a platinum finish.

Like Michael Potts and Morrow dominated the 7-8-year-old events, Wood and Ballany dominated the 9-10-year-old events. In addition to the freestyle race, Wood won the 50-meter backstroke with a time of 45.37, the 50-meter breaststroke with a time of 48.25, and the 50-meter butterfly with a time of 39.99.

In addition to winning the freestyle race, Ballany posted best times for her age group in the 50-meter backstroke, 43.44 seconds, the 50-meter breaststroke, 52.97, and the 100-meter IM with a time of 1:37.62, which was good for a gold finish.

Joseph Potts and Smith each had best times in four individual events for the 11-12-year-olds. After winning the 50-meter freestyle, Joseph Potts won the 50-meter backstroke with a time of 36.87, the 50-meter butterfly with a time of 35.68, and the 100-meter IM with a platinum time of 1:18.63.

Smith posted best times in the same events. After getting the best time in the freestyle, she completed the backstroke in 38.30, the butterfly in 34.59, and the 100-meter IM in 1:18.34 – all good for platinum finishes.

Sherwood’s Jordan Woodson posted best times in two events in the 13-14-year-old age group. Woodson had the best time in the 100-meter IM, finishing in 1:10.87 – good for a platinum finish.

His 50-meter breaststroke time of 36.75 seconds was also a best for that age group.

Heye, competing in the 15-18-year-old events, posted the top times in the 100-meter IM, the 50-meter butterfly, and the 50-meter breaststroke. Heye finished the 100-meter IM in 1:02.08, the butterfly in 29.07 seconds, and the breaststroke in 32.91 seconds. All times were good for platinum finishes.

In that same age group, Godbee posted best times in the 50-meter butterfly and 50-meter backstroke in addition to her top time in the freestyle race.

She finished the butterfly in 37.28 seconds, good for a silver finish, and the backstroke in 41.71, which was also good for a silver finish.

In addition to all of the individual successes the Sharks had, they won every race in the 100-meter freestyle relay except for the 18-under age group.

The Sharks compete again today in a home meet against Bryant. The first race is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m.

SPORTS STORY >> CHS grad wins at Pine Bluff

Leader sportswriter

Former Cabot High School standout golfer Marlena Weatherly took first place at the one-day Optimist Golf Tournament at the Pine Bluff Country Club last Saturday, and with the win, she qualified to compete in next month’s Optimist International Junior Golf Championships that’ll take place at the prestigious PGA National Resorts and Spa in Palm Beach, Fla.

Weatherly shot an 84 at last Saturday’s 18-hole tournament, which was the score needed to qualify for the 15-18-year-old junior tournament at Palm Beach, Fla. Weatherly will compete in the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships from July 24-29.

Last Saturday’s event was the second tournament Weatherly has competed in this summer, and even though she didn’t play as well as she’d hoped, she was pleased overall with the result – especially considering she’s made some recent changes in her game.

“I didn’t play as well as I would’ve liked to,” said Weatherly, “but shooting an 84 with having a swing change – my goal right now is to shoot in that range because of everything I’ve had to change. I’ve fixed my putting grip, and little things that have been kind of holding me back from getting to the next level.

“My putting is much better, and the swing change has obviously been difficult. Shooting an 84, it wasn’t in the 70slike I would’ve hoped, but my goal going into it was to shoot around 80.”

Weatherly, a 2014 CHS graduate, signed a scholarship in January to play golf at Central Baptist College in Conway this fall, and CBC coach Lyle Middleton has been helping her adjust to the swing change that she says is improving her shot distance.

“It’s working well,” Weatherly said. “I’m gaining at least seven yards on my shot, and quite a bit on my drive, so I’m having better shots towards the hole.”

Winning the tournament last Saturday was one thing, but qualifying for the trip to Palm Beach, Fla. didn’t come easy. It came down to the last hole, and as Weatherly entered the 18th hole, she was made aware that she had to get at least a par on the distant par four hole to qualify for the chance to compete at the prestigious Palm Beach resort next month.

“I didn’t know till the last hole that I had to do that,” Weatherly said. “I realized going into the last hole that I had to par it to shoot 84 and go to Florida. It was a long par four. I didn’t get on the green like I’d hoped to, but I got up and down and made my chip-in putt, which was all I could hope for.

“It’s very exclusive. You have to be invited to the resort to even stay there. It’s kind of a once in a lifetime thing, so it’s pretty cool.”

Weatherly competed this week in the National Tri-State Junior Girls Golf Championships in El Dorado this week. The three-day tournament is a team event that consists of the best golfers at the junior level, 15-to-18-years-old, from Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana. Weatherly’s team from Arkansas won last year’s event that took place in Tunica, Miss.

SPORTS STORY >> Bears second at Joe T. High

Leader sports editor

The Sylvan Hills skill players turned in an excellent performance at the 7-on-7 tournament at Joe T. Robinson High School on Thursday, winning four games and finishing second to Conway with a 30-14 loss in the tournament championship.

That game was tied 14-14 with five minutes left, but after a Conway score, the Bears failed to execute two fade routes on back-to-back plays from the 4-yard line.

The fade was the obvious call. Sylvan Hills drew a mismatch when 6-fooot-3 receiver Jordan Washington lined up across from a 5-foot-4 Wampus Cat defensive back, but neither throw from the Bears’ quarterback was high enough, and the defensive back was able to knock each pass down, giving Conway two points for the stop. The Wampus Cats then scored on their next possession with less than a minute remaining to set the final margin.

“I should’ve just stuck with what we were doing, but I started coaching and that was our downfall,” said Sylvan Hills coach Jim Withrow. “But man, I’m not going to complain about today. They stuck us in that division with all the big schools, and we competed. I thought (Tra) Doss looked phenomenal throwing the ball. Receivers ran good routes and caught the ball well. It was pretty solid.”

The Bears opened with a 23-17 loss to Pine Bluff in which the Zebras scored on a 40-yard touchdown pass at the buzzer to get the win.

The Bears reversed that fate by scoring on the last play to beat Little Rock Central 37-31. After that they beat Greenbrier 37-21 and beat Bryant 40-21 to earn a trip to the final against Conway.

Doss did a good job of spreading the ball around as well. Nathan Thomas, who was the leading receiver last season, had a good day Thursday. As did tailback Marlon Clemmons, who caught several passes and led the team in touchdown catches in the tournament. Tight end Elijah Sowards also caught several passes, including both touchdowns against Conway.

Washington, a sophomore, and fellow split end Cameron Dews both caught several passes.

“We’re not going to have enough this year to two-platoon, but offensively I think we’re going to be good,” Withrow said. “I say that, and we might go out there and average 10 points, but I don’t think so. We’re still looking for the right pieces to the puzzle on defense, but we’re looking forward to seeing what we can do this next season.”

In the win over Central, Clemmons caught four touchdowns passes for a total of 109 yards. The last two were 40-yard connections including the one at the buzzer after Central had scored with 45 seconds left to take a 31-30 lead.

Sowards had two touchdowns in three different games and Washington had interceptions in two games.

North Pulaski also competed in the event in the small school division and went 0-4. The Falcons lost 32-13 to Malvern, 22-13 to Robinson, 27-11 to Marion and 24-17 to Bauxite. Against the Miners, North Pulaski’s Kalise Vines caught two 40-yard touchdown passes, and caught two others against Robinson, but one in each game were called back for time violations. Teams have four seconds to pass the ball after the snap.

The Falcons gave up one touchdown drive to the Miners even though Bauxite completed just 1 of 9 pass attempts.

Twice on third-down incompletions (teams only have three downs to pick up 15 yards) the Falcons were called for defensive holding. After another incomplete pass, Bauxite completed a 10-yard touchdown pass for the score.

The Falcons held the Miners to just 6 of 21 passing when they took possession with time for one snap, and completed a 40-yarder for the winning touchdown.

“I come here strictly to work the defensive backs, but I want kids to compete,” said North Pulaski coach Teodis Ingram. “I felt like we competed hard in every game except Robinson, even though we almost won that one, too. Kids didn’t compete. They got knocked off their routes and they gave up on them. Everything is not a skeleton drill. That’s going to happen and you have to fight to get back on that route. We just didn’t do that in that game.

“Otherwise I felt pretty good about our defense and how we competed on that side of the ball. That’s why we come to these things.”

EDITORIAL >> Open letter to my dad

Father’s Day is just around the corner and I’d like to send this open letter to my dad and to all the dads who have experienced the ups and downs and highs and lows of parenting. No roller coaster can compare.

Dear Dad,

It’s been a long time since I’ve written you. In fact, I can’t remember the last letter I wrote you (e-mail is partially to blame).

Anyway, I’m finally writing a letter to you and an important one.

It’s not because Sunday’s Father’s Day or that I feel guilty. It’s simply because I love you and need to tell you that. I’ve been reminiscing lately about all the good things you did for me while I was growing up.

Remember the hardest spanking you ever gave me? I sure do!

I was about 8 years old and, boy, did I deserve it. I ran across the street without looking both ways and came close to getting hit by a car.

Well, let me tell you, Dad, I sure learned my lesson. Nowadays, I even look both ways before crossing the letter “t.”

How about the time back when you helped me win the kite-flying contest?

You were busy doing something when I suddenly ran out of kite string and just let the kite float nearly out of sight. By the time the judges had given me the blue ribbon for the highest flying kite, you had already jumped three fences, avoided two barking dogs, sprained your ankle and ran nearly a mile chasing that kite down.

Knowing me, I gloated over winning and never told you thanks. To top things off, after all that trouble you went through to retrieve my kite, I let a tree eat it the very next day.

Dad, I’m also grateful for all the things you taught me about nature, especially during our fishing and camping trips.

Remember the time we spent nearly all day in the hot sun without catching a single thing? Then, whoosh, out of the clear blue sky, I hooked your favorite fishing cap right off your head and cast it right into the middle of the lake. I’m sure some catfish is still proudly wearing it. There was also that time you got a concussion showing me how dangerous it was to use a metal sign as a snow sled and that time you burned off all your chest hairs showing me why gasoline shouldn’t be used to light a fire.

Then, every time I wanted to join something, you happily joined it, too. Like Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Indian Guides, Little League and record clubs. You did it so we could continue to be close.

But, somewhere along the line, we drifted apart, or more correctly, I drifted — you’ve always been a bedrock. It seems that I had the same crazy philosophy most teenage boys get – that we know everything and it caused me to rebel. I’ve been away way too long.

With this letter, I’d like to close that gap I caused by saying Happy Father’s Day and I love you.

And one more thing: I hope that I’m at least half the father to my kids as you have been to me and my brothers. (Although I don’t plan on repeating that gasoline experiment.)

Regardless of who boxer Muhammad Ali thinks is the greatest — you are!


Your Son

To every son and daughter, this Sunday shouldn’t be the only day you tell dad thanks. Show him every day by doing right, living life to the fullest and telling something embarrassing about it at every family reunion. —Rick Kron

TOP STORY >> Banker bringing his skills to club

Leader editor

Southern Oaks Country Club in Jacksonville has hired John Hardwick as its general manager.

Hardwick, who recently retired as vice president of First Arkansas Bank and Trust after 33 years with the bank, says he intends to boost membership by attracting people not only from the Foxwood neighborhood, where the club is located, but also from Cabot, Sherwood and North Little Rock. His first day was Monday.

The move coincides with majority owner Brian Hagewood being bought out by his partners, Harold Gwatney and Joan Zumwalt, according to a news release issued Thursday.

A reception will be held to welcome Hardwick at 6 p.m. Friday in the club’s banquet room.

It may seem like a big change for the former banking executive, but his new office is just a few blocks away from his home on Grey Fox Lane. “We all have a belief in Jacksonville and the fact that we need a country club in Jacksonville for quality of life. And Joan and Harold made a huge commitment when they bought (the club). They are very civic minded,” Hardwick said.

His financial expertise will be a vital asset for the club. Formerly Foxwood Country Club, its name was changed in 2011 after Ted Belden — citing the club’s financial disposition — sold it to Hagewood. “I think it’s great for the club,” Hagewood said after the sale. “John retired from the bank three months ago but realized real soon he wasn’t cut out for it yet. The club has been absent of a true general manager for over a year now. He is probably overqualified, but he is looking forward to the challenge of growing the club. He will be great for the members and hopefully increase the membership and revenue.”

Hardwick is confident about Southern Oaks’ future. The club has about 150 members and Hardwick aims to attract 100 new members in the coming months. “That’s what I was hired to do, grow membership,” he said.

Full-membership fees are $145 a month and include unlimited golf with free use of golf carts, access to the pool and use of the club’s meeting rooms for events.

A junior golf membership is available to people under 28 for $125 a month.

There’s also a social membership program for $45 a month, which offers families full access with the exception of golf. It can be good for less-frequent golfers.

And a seasonal pool membership is available for $300. The pool was refurbished last year.

Southern Oaks also offers corporate memberships.

To help bring in new members, the club is waiving its initiation fees.

“It’ll take some time. I went to a meeting this week and there were six people from the Air Force base at that meeting. Only one of the six knew where we were. So we just haven’t done a good enough job of letting people know we are here, where we are, how to get here. But we picked up three new members this week, so that was cool,” Hardwick said.

The quality of the golf course and plans to keep improving the club will be key to meeting that goal, he said.

“We have an excellent course. My friends and members are telling me it’s in the best shape it’s ever been in. We’ve got nothing but compliments on the condition, from people that come to tournaments that don’t normally play here, about what great shape it’s in. We’ve worked on the drainage a lot. It’s just a beautiful course right now. It’s fun to play, not too hard but it’s still challenging for a good golfer,” he said.

Southern Oaks isn’t just looking for Foxwood residents to join. “In fact, there’s not a real country club in the Sherwood and North Little Rock area, so those are good places for us to draw from,” Hardwick said.

“Rolling Hills is the only country club left in Cabot and their membership is full. So we can draw from Cabot, Sherwood, North Little Rock and Jacksonville if someone wants a private course where they don’t have to get tee times, (can get) good food, a nice pool,” Hardwick said.

His team includes club manager Lindsey Beaver, who’s worked with the club since 2012. “She does everything except the course. She’s my right hand,” Hardwick said.

Bo Brocchus, who is head of golf operations, said, “I’ve spent my entire life out there. My parents were members when it was built.”

He first started working there in 1991 and returned in 2012, after working for a couple of years at North Hills Country Club in Sherwood.

Hardwick said, “They’re my two key people. They’re the heart and soul of it.”

He will be taking stock while he settles into his new job. “I have a vision of what I want it to be, which is a quality private club, but I want to make sure that I get input from our members and also from nonmembers about what they want.

“It’s not about me. It’s about the members. I’m going to be getting feedback, reaching out to members,” he said.

TOP STORY >> Splitting district not end to funds

Leader senior staff writer

Even if Jacksonville/north Pulaski residents form their own school district out of the mammoth Pulaski County Special School District, its high school students will still be eligible for the Donaldson Scholars’ Academy and scholarships authorized Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Price Marshall.

Those residents will have the opportunity to form a standalone school district at the Sept. 16 annual school elections.

“Things seem to be moving forward on the Jacksonville front. What about students ending up at Jacksonville?” Marshall asked during the hearing.

“Any new district would come with the same burdens, responsibilities and benefits,” PCSSD Superintendent Jerry Guess testified.

“PCSSD is committed to pay for it,” he said. “We propose to live up to our commitment regardless.”

Daniel Gray, spokesman for the Jacksonville/North Pulaski detachment seekers, said, “We’re encouraged...It’s a good opportunity for kids in Jacksonville.”

Patrick Wilson, attorney for the proposed Jacksonville district, said, “We’re pleased that they stated on the record that Jacksonville students will be eligible and said that PCSSD is going to pay for the program...It sounds like a good program that they put a lot of thought into.”


The innovative, $10 million Donaldson plan would track, tutor and guide at-risk PCSSD students from ninth grade, sending them to college on some Saturdays and, upon graduation, to a three-week, on-campus, summer residence immersion, then on to college with scholarships.

While the joint motion before the judge is from the Joshua Intervenors and PCSSD, the academy is a collaboration between the district, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and Philander Smith College. It would identify students as at-risk beginning in ninth grade and provide tutoring and interventions, as well as the college visits and the three-week summer bridge program after graduation. Those accepted to UALR or Philander Smith are eligible for a $2,500 scholarship, renewable three times with acceptable progress.


Students may self-select to participate in the program, according to John Walker, attorney for the Joshua Intervenors.

White students in the district average in the 21-25 range on the ACT tests, while scores for black students range from 13 to 18, Walker said.

Students with scores of 20 or below wouldn’t be eligible for scholarship money for college at either of those institutions, Walker said. Those with scores above can generally qualify for existing scholarships or financial help.

Marshall approved a desegregation agreement settlement on Jan. 13 between PCSSD, the Joshua Interveners, the Little Rock and North Little Rock school districts and the state of Arkansas, relieving the state of its current $60 million-a-year support for desegregation after the 2016-17 school year and also clearing the way for a standalone Jacksonville/north Pulaski school district vote.

But major changes must still be vetted and approved by the federal court.

That’s what Marshall did to the proposed Donaldson Scholars Academy at the end of Wednesday’s two-hour hearing.


Although this is considered a step toward addressing the academic achievement disparity between white and black students in the district, any poor-performing PCSSD student, regardless of race, is eligible the program and college scholarship money.

Before approving the academy, Marshall wanted assurances that it served as a supplement to Plan 2000 and not a change.

Alluding to the successful outcomes testified to by Summer Bridge Coordinator Amber Smith, Marshall said he had high hopes. “We’ll see if the amazing success (of the existing program) can be expanded.” He cautioned against overconfidence in the new program.

PCSSD will repurpose some of the roughly $20 million a year it will receive through the next four school years to fund the program, along with about $1.8 million a year in cuts to programs and personnel.

Among cuts identified by Janice Warren, PCSSD superintendent for pupil and equity services, are 10 counselors and in-home consultants.


Guess said, by streamlining bus routes, the district can eliminate 20 routes — 20 buses and 20 drivers.

The teachers’ and support staff’s unions have yet to be heard from on these issues. They no longer have negotiating power, but have been quick to court when they feel aggrieved.

The Donaldson Scholars’ Academy is already in place at UALR, where its architect, Charles Donaldson, is the retired vice chancellor of educational, student services and student life.

The preliminary budget suggests that PCSSD’s $10 million contribution will fund the program for four or five years. Donaldson said he hoped that corporate and foundation grants and federal money could pick up the tab after that.

Donaldson’s current program receives funds from the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation and Bank of America, among others.

PCSSD graduating seniors or parents can get more information by calling Summer Bridge Program coordinator Amber Smith at 501-569-3328 or by emailing her at

TOP STORY >> D-Day exhibit brings back memories

Leader staff writer

“How anybody got through, I’ll never know,” recalled a 96- year-old World War II veteran who stood on the cliffs above Omaha Beach eight days after the initial D-Day assault on June 6, 1944.

Roy H. Smith, a retired accountant who lives in Little Rock, was one of a small group who visited the D-Day exhibit at the Jacksonville Military Museum on Thursday and reminisced.

Smith said he was drafted in Pine Bluff in 1941 for a one-year stint. Five years later, he got to come home. Even though he was injured in the war, the veteran said he was pretty lucky.

Smith is one of about 12,000 World War II veterans living in Arkansas.

“I went from Pine Bluff to Camp Robinson to Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. I was actually in Wellington, England, on D-Day. It was home to three bases — a Spitfire base, a troop-carrier base and a naval station. All the planes were in the air, and there was activity everywhere. We knew something was going on,” he said.

Seven days later, Smith was stepping on the beach.

Smith’s said, a few years ago, his grandson in Florida had an assignment to interview a World War II veteran.

“The kids watched the ‘Longest Day’ and then had to do the interview. I wrote down all I could recall up to the time I was injured.” The grandson got a good grade on his report, Smith said. Then his family bugged him to put down the rest of it in writing. “It’s not a commercial project, just a family project,” he said.

Smith said he was in a replacement unit, and it took his group about 18 hours to make the 90-mile trek across the English Channel.

“It was a rough crossing. We hit a storm,” Smith said.

After reaching the beach and making his way up the cliffs, his unit moved inward.

“We were going through some hedge rows a few days later. It was as quiet as death. A machine gun team was ahead of me when we were hit by German tank fire,” Smith recalled.

The first round missed him, but the second blast sent shrapnel into his leg. “It was about 2 p.m. and I didn’t get back to the beach until about midnight,” he said.

Smith was taken to a hospital in Wales and spent four months recovering. “The bad thing about it is, to this day, I don’t know the fate of the machine gun team,” he said.

Smith quipped that when he was at the hospital, one of the first things they tried to do was feed him.

“I just wanted sleep. The Germans would fire at night just to harass and keep us awake. It worked,” he said.

Recovered from his injuries, Smith didn’t go home, but was sent back to his unit.

“I joined them right about the time the Battle of the Bulge was occurring. We were down below that, so we didn’t get involved,” he said.

His unit, the 79th Infantry Division, moved into Belgium and crossed over the Rhine River into Germany.

“Our main job was to round up all the displaced people. The Germans captured a lot of people and took them back to Germany to work for them. When the Germans scattered, these people were left behind to live on the land,” he recalled.

As the European war was winding down, Smith and his unit made their way to Czechoslovakia. “Believe it or not, we went there to train for the Pacific battles,” he said.

Smith made it home a week before Christmas 1945. “I hadn’t been home in five years,” he said.

Three years later, he married, till he lost his wife 49 years and two months later. Smith said he was blessed with a son, a daughter and three grandchildren.

Smith, who has been back to Normandy since the war, said the museum’s exhibit that included sand from the beaches there was excellent and brought back a lot of memories.

His unit, the 79th Infantry Division, landed on Utah and Omaha beaches June 12-14 and first encountered combat June 19. According to Army records, the division spent 248 days in combat and had more than 15,000 casualties (killed, wounded, captured or missing).

The unit received eight citations for its actions and efforts during World War II and was deactivated at the end of 1945.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

EDITORIAL >> Taking on liquor laws

Arkansas’ cultural landscape will see big changes if voters approve an amendment to the state’s Constitution in November to do away with liquor laws. It would allow supermarkets and convenience stores to sell beer and wine and restaurants to serve alcohol.

More liquor stores could open in dry areas. Wet counties such as Pulaski County would not see more liquor stores, but existing ones could move to new locations. They’d be treated more like other businesses and less like pariahs, but at a cost. They’d have to compete with Walmart.

Business forces in Jacksonville and Sherwood have been working to expand liquor sales to restaurants, grocery stores and convenience stores in their communities. Supporters of the local effort say it will boost sales taxes and attract more restaurants that have stayed out of our communities. Supporters have been collecting signatures with the aim of bringing the issue to a vote in the fall.

But the larger initiative that could supersede local efforts is now being led mostly by the country’s largest employer — Arkansas-based Walmart. The mega-retailer, seeing millions in potential revenue, is looking to break the liquor stores’ monopoly. Walmart now wants to sell Budweiser and bologna. But are voters ready for it?

Religious sensibilities and concerns about drunk driving have helped keep anti-liquor laws on the books. If the slow process of collecting signatures to get local measures on the ballot are any indication, those same concerns are still on the minds of many residents.

Old-timers remember when blue laws here even prohibited buying diapers on Sundays — a messy inconvenience when rearing children that could spoil anyone’s day of rest. It’s not clear if this amendment would allow Sunday liquor sales outside restaurants, but it seems inevitable.

Since Colorado and Washington State have legalized marijuana to generate tax revenue and reduce prison populations, Arkansas’ liquor restrictions are looking more and more old-fashioned. (Two efforts to legalize marijuana – one for recreational use, the other for medical use – are also trying to make it on the ballot here.)

Thirty-nine of Arkansas’ 75 counties are dry. That means some law-abiding residents have to cross three counties just to buy beer.

More than a third of fatal car crashes in Arkansas are caused by drunk drivers. If the law changes, that ratio might even decrease because statistics in states with fewer alcohol restrictions are surprising.

According to the State Police’s Highway Safety Office, in 2011 – the most recent year records are available – there were 509 traffic deaths in all and 208 were alcohol-related in a state with just under 3 million people. That means 40 percent of traffic deaths in Arkansas were alcohol-related.

Missouri and Louisiana have almost no restrictions on alcohol, but alcohol-related deaths are a lot fewer than you’d expect.

Louisiana, with a population of 4.6 million, had 710 traffic deaths in 2012 and 280 were alcohol related. That is 39 percent, about the same as Arkansas. In 2001 in Missouri, with 6 million people, there were 773 road deaths. Alcohol-related deaths were attributed to 209 accidents. That is 27 percent.

Parents in the Show Me state can even give their underage children alcohol. Louisiana, whose northern region is as conservative as any Bible Belt state, has some of the loosest liquor laws in the country. In other parts of the state, drive-through frozen daiquiri stands are common.

In Texas in 2011, there were 3,067 traffic deaths in all, and 1,104 were attributed to alcohol. That is 35 percent. With almost 10 times our population, that state has 18 dry counties and 47 completely wet counties.

But these laws are not unique to the South. Pennsylvania, Vermont and Utah have some of the most restrictive alcohol laws in the country.

We’re far from the freewheeling ways of our neighboring states. Perhaps the biggest change to come: Liquor stores near county lines could move into town. Stores could open on Main Street or near Greystone in Cabot, and restaurants might serve alcohol in communities where it’s been prohibited for a century.

TOP STORY >> Weather hurting farmers

Leader senior staff writer

Parts of Lonoke County got as much as six inches of rain over the past few days, and high winds have blown down corn on some farms, according to Lonoke Extension Agent Jeff Welch. Early soybeans are in the ground and doing well, but the fields are too wet for tractors, and only about half of the regular season beans are in, Welch said.

“We’re still assessing the weather,” he said. While some corn was just flat blown down by 50 and 60 mph winds that came through Thursday night, more seems to have suffered green snap, where fast-growing corn can be injured at the joint. Welch said a little sun and dry weather will put most of that corn right. The corn will grow toward the sun, he said.

“We have a potential problem with wheat,” Welch noted. The grain heads had dried down, and it was ready for harvest. Now there is sprouting in some of those heads, which can affect the quality. Farmers could be docked.

“Kenny McFarland of Carlisle hasn’t put a bean in the ground yet,” Welch said. “He’s glad he hasn’t.”

The McFarlands are the Farm Family of the Year.

As soon as farmers can get a few dry days, they will be going into high gear. They will need to harvest wheat even if the equipment ruts up the fields. But they can’t plant more beans until the fields dry out some.

“We do have all the rice planted and milo and corn planted,” Welch said. “We’re in good shape on those.”

Cotton continues to make a cautious comeback, with maybe 1,000 to 2,000 acres more planted this year than last year.

“If the water stays on the field too long, it will hurt the cotton,” Welch said. So can hail. “So far we’ve avoided them both.”

Last year, three Lonoke County producers harvested at or near 100 bushels per acre in test fields, Welch said. That’s not out of the question for some this year. But Laudies Brantley said he’d rather average 85 bushels per acre across 60 acre fields.

The same weather that has plagued farmers has flooded roads, blown over trees and downed power lines in Lonoke County, according to County Judge Doug Erwin.

He said he’s had road crews cleaning up debris across the roads, cleaning out drainage ditches and culverts.

He said the Woodlawn community received the worst of it.

“As of right now, it’s all passable,” he said Monday, crediting crews that worked late into the night.

Erwin said he hadn’t heard of any injuries from the high winds, but that some grain bins were damaged. Power and telephone poles were down, too.

TOP STORY >> Sherwood is getting call center

Leader staff writer

A new customer-experience center is coming to Sherwood, and the company is already interviewing and hiring.

TeleTech, which has more than 41,000 employees, will use the facility to serve its clients in the health-care industry. The center will serve as a contact for customers’ concerns about major health-care providers.

The Denver-based company picked Sherwood over three dozen other possible sites for the new facility, which will hire about 250 people with an average salary between $15-$16 an hour.

Barry Sellers, Sherwood’s economic development director, said the company would like to be open and operating in about a month or so, adding that the firm may not be done investing in Sherwood. “They have other projects that we are a candidate for,” Sellers said.

According to the TeleTech website, “We help companies grow by simplifying and personalizing interactions with their customers.”

Kenneth Tuchman, chairman and chief executive officer of TeleTech said, “The Little Rock area holds great talent and expertise that will help us expand and improve upon the services to our clients.”

The new center will be located in the Wildwood Centre and Medical Tower – the old Heritage building — at Wildwood and Country Club.

“TeleTech’s decision to locate in Sherwood brings with it a significant number of new jobs that will have a positive impact on our local economy for many years,” Sellers said. “We appreciate the company’s decision to establish its first Arkansas location in Sherwood and look forward to adding another great partner to our business community.”

Gov. Mike Beebe, in making the announcement on Monday, said, “The services TeleTech will be providing are vital in our information age, and central Arkansas’ workforce has the talent and dedication required to help the company thrive and prosper here.”

Sherwood Mayor Virginia Hillman added to the accolades, saying, “We are proud to welcome TeleTech to Sherwood and know the company will find the local workforce a great fit for its needs. The addition of more than 200 new jobs will benefit the entire Sherwood business community.

“TeleTech had the opportunity to locate its new operation anywhere across the U.S. and chose Sherwood. This is a testament to the strength of our workforce and our citizens.”

TeleTech, founded in 1982, “is a leading global provider of analytics-driven, technology-enabled services that put customer engagement at the core of business success,” according to its website.

For the Sherwood site, the company is hiring customer service representatives, team leaders, trainers, recruiters, technical assistance and IT specialists, operations managers and facilities staff. Visit to view job descriptions and to apply.

The TeleTech announcement is a big coup for Sherwood, but not its only recent achievement. Other recent economic development accomplishments or announcements for the city include:

 A CVS Pharmacy is going up at the Kiehl and Hwy. 107 intersection.

 A new Dollar General store opened April 1 in front of the old Harvest Foods on Kiehl Avenue, and the old grocery store building has been converted to a storage facility.

 A new Mapco Express gas station is being built at the intersection of Brockington and Kiehl.

 Harp's is building one of its grocery stores near the intersection of Brockington and Hwy. 107.

 The Kiehl Avenue Animal Clinic was expanded into an animal hospital near Arby’s on Kiehl Avenue.

 ACE Hardware is converting the old Skate Connection rink on Kiehl Avenue into one of its stores.

 A 5,300-square-foot retail is being built at the North Hills Shopping Center.

TOP STORY >> Crowding problem in county jails

Leader senior staff writer

As always, the state Correction Department is full up and about 2,700 of its inmates are backed up in county jails, awaiting transfer.

A couple of them have been awaiting transfer from the Lonoke County Detention Center for more than a year, according to Sheriff John Staley.

Staley, Pulaski County Sheriff Doc Holladay and White County Sheriff Ricky Shourd support the Arkansas Sheriffs’ Association in its call for consideration during a special session of the legislature this summer.

If Gov. Mike Beebe calls a special session, Arkansas sheriffs say it is imperative for the state inmate crisis to be added to his call.

“This is a dire situation in our county jails and in our communities across the state,” said Ronnie Baldwin, executive director of the sheriffs’ association.

Local jails are overcrowded with state inmates, and the state doesn’t pay full freight for the beds it uses, the sheriffs say.

The Pulaski County Detention Center, which houses inmates for Little Rock, North Little Rock, Jacksonville and Sherwood, has just begun receiving nonviolent inmates again for the first time since April 29, according to Sheriff Doc Holladay.

While Pulaski County has beds for 1,370 inmates, it is funded and staffed for only 1,210, Holladay said Tuesday.

It had 1,300 inmates when it stopped accepting inmates, he noted. “We have another 160 beds not funded, and I don’t anticipate they’ll be funded this year.”

More prisoners take more jailers, more food and more medical services.

Overcrowding at the Pulaski County jail is about as old as the jail itself. In 1981, to relieve overcrowding, Sheriff Tommy Robinson took some inmates awaiting space in prison to the state Correction Department in Pine Bluff.

When the prison refused them, Robinson chained the inmates to the front gate and left. He ordered deputies to shoot state troopers if they dared to try returning the prisoners to the county.

Even then, it was an old problem. In 1858, the Arkansas Gazette reported that “The present jail of Pulaski County is too small for the comfortable keeping of the prisoners who have to be confined in it and too old and worn out for their safe keeping.”

This is according to a paper by the UALR History Department’s Raymond D. Screws.

Lonoke County’s new detention center opened in 2010, according to Sgt. Jim Kulesa, the public information officer.

The jail’s capacity when opened was 138, according to Staley. “When I took office, we re-evaluated and added some beds in the open pods to expand our current capacity to 150 beds. We are usually at or exceeding capacity. Current count as of today is 163, with 49 committed to the Arkansas Correction Department, 10 held for parole hearings and 31 being held for the federal authorities.

“If the state would take its prisoners, that would open 50 to 70 beds,” he said.

In White County, which can usually accommodate 290 to 300 prisoners, is averaging that. But an expansion to 40 or 55 additional beds is planned by August 2015, according to Chief Deputy Phillip Miller.

Miller said that, when the classification demographics are just right, the jail can handle 330. But segregating by gender and also by those charged or convicted of more serious crimes keeps the numbers down.

In Pulaski County, at any given time, convicted inmates awaiting room in the state Correction Department or awaiting parole revocation hearings account for as much as a quarter of the population.

Holladay said about 2,700 state prisoners are backed up in county jails around the state, and the sheriffs would like to see that capped at 1,600.

Also, the state pays the counties $28 a day for housing inmates, but a legislative audit determined it costs those jails $45 a day to house an inmate.

“Most counties are losing money” Holladay said.

The Public Safety Improvement Act, Act 570 of 2011 — part of Gov. Beebe’s agenda — was intended to reduce recidivism, hold offenders accountable and contain correctional costs. It went into effect in July of that year. The mandatory sentencing was changed with Act 570.

Holladay said it began to reduce prison and jail populations in the state until Darrell Dennis allegedly robbed and killed a teenager two days after he was released on parole.

The sheriff said that put the brakes on paroles and jail populations began climbing again.

Overcrowding first touches medical, food and overtime budgets, Holladay said. “We have to have adequate staff to manage growth and population. When you budget for 1,210, and you have 1,300, that results in stress on staff and conflict for inmates and staff.

“A year ago, I would have said I had 70 percent pretrial, nonviolent felons. Now, only accepting violent felons, I have 70 percent violent felons. As the threat of violence escalates, it creates a dilemma.”

Staley said, “The problem with a full facility is multifaceted. First, it causes low level, nonviolent felons to be released and the ability to hold misdemeanors is almost nonexistent. It causes tense relations with courts due to our inability to hold civil commitments such as child support violators. It also causes tension between agencies that have misdemeanor commitments. The sheriff’s office detention center is full of newly arrested felonies and over one third are state-committed inmates.”

Staley said his jail must hold 30 federal inmates to fund its operations. This is how the quorum court, prior to his time, chose to help fund the operations. “This also causes stress on the jail staff due to the overcrowding.”

Staley’s current budget is $1.5 million, and this includes $35,000 for medicines and $50,000 for other medical costs.

The sheriff continued, “It is a public-safety issue and causes undue stress on the county budgets and citizens...We catch the criminals, take them to court, get them convicted, and they are in the county jail during this time. Once the suspect is convicted, they become state inmates and should be transferred to a state prison in a timely manner. This is not happening.”

As far as staffing, the Lonoke County Detention Center now manages as many as 170 prisoners with the same number of jailers it had when the population was only 90, Staley added.

SPORT STORY >> Cabot jumper makes nationals on first try

Special to The Leader

FAYETTEVILLE – Vaulting out of Cabot as a two-time girls state Indoor champion and one time Outdoor champion with a 12-6 career best, Ariel Voskamp knew she could have pole vaulted at Arkansas State on a full scholarship and been very good.

Still, she thought it worth taking less scholarship money from the University of Arkansas on the prospect she would become even better.

Despite what has amounted to two redshirt years, one because she redshirted in 2012 then was sidelined by a stress fracture in 2013, the risk seems to have paid off for the third-year sophomore. At this week’s NCAA Women’s Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Ore., Voskamp is one of four Bryan Compton coached vaulters for head coach Lance Harter’s Razorbacks competing after advancing through the NCAA West Outdoor Preliminary meet.

At the SEC Outdoor, with teammates Sandi Morris (14-9) and Danielle Nowell (13-11.25) finishing second, Voskamp completed a 1-2-3 finish for the SEC champion Razorbacks while vaulting her personal best 13-11.25 in Lexington, Ky. which she followed at 13-3 at the West Prelim that Arkansas hosted at John McDonnell Field in Fayetteville.

The third-place SEC Outdoor finishes from in-staters Voskamp and high jumper Kirsten Hesseltine of Springdale Har-Ber, also qualifying at the West Prelim to advance to Eugene, especially gratified field events coach Compton.

“We have got two Arkansas girls with Ariel Voskamp and Kirsten and both of them have done really well,” Compton said. “Both of them are bronze medalists at the SEC which is hard to do. Ariel had jumped liked 12-7 out of high school. She wanted to come to school here and we offered a little bit of scholarship and her parents are great people and just support her all the way. Same thing with Kirstie. Kirstie was fixing to go play volleyball at Campbell University. We had seen her jump and said here is 5-8 straight out of Arkansas and we know they do volleyball then just a little bit of track after the season is over with so we thought we could do a lot with Kirsten and it came out great for us.”

Obviously Hesseltine picked the right sport, and just as obvious to her, Voskamp said, she picked the right program even as she continues to admire Earl Bell, the former Arkansas State Olympian still training vaulters in Jonesboro.

“Arkansas State gave me a full ride and Earl Bell was there and I had vaulted at Earl’s a lot,” Voskamp said. “ But I realized that all the success that Compton has had, I thought I would flourish more at Arkansas than I would at Jonesboro.”

She thought she would flourish more at Arkansas for the long run even though for the short run she assumes she would have quickly vaulted ahead at Arkansas State.

“If I had gone to Jonesboro I would have already been one of the top vaulters going into the Sun Belt Conference,” and this is SEC and that’s kind of hard to turn down. It’s just a great program.”

Especially with national co-leader Morris, a junior, on the premises, as well as senior Nowell, sophomore Zimlich and so many great All-Americans before them like NCAA Outdoor record-holder and former two-time NCAA Indoor champion Tina Sutej, U.S. Olympian April Steiner Bennett, back in Fayetteville training for 2016, Jonesboro’s Katie Stripling and Stephanie Irwin of Mount Ida among others.

“Before I came I knew all the names, April, Katie, Tina, and then you get here and get to meet them,” Voskamp said. “It’s pretty special. Why would you ever want to be the best with no competition? If you are going to try to be the best in the conference that is No. 1 in the nation that is much more of an accomplishment.”

What sets Compton, apart?

“He definitely holds us accountable,” Voskamp said. “He already has an expectation of us so there is no room for us to doubt ourselves. We have to live up to that expectation and we have to work hard. People already know that Arkansas Razorback vaulters are good so we have to live up to that.”

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot Red gives one away to HSL

Leader sportswriter

Despite both teams totaling seven hits for the game, the Cabot Red junior American Legion team was handed a 14-5 defeat to Hot Springs Lakeside in four innings Saturday at Brian Wade Conrade Memorial Field.

Even though the two teams had the same number of base hits, Centennial Bank’s three pitchers that threw Saturday combined for eight walks and three hit batters.

The Lakeside Rams walked just one batter the whole game, and Cabot committed three errors to Lakeside’s one.

Lakeside scored its first at-bat. Rams’ leadoff hitter Caleb Lloyd was hit by a pitch to start the game. A groundout by two-hole hitter Colton O’Keefe advanced Lloyd to second base.

A strikeout followed for the second out of the inning, but Rams’ cleanup hitter Harrison Russell drove in Lloyd with a stand-up double to deep left field, giving Lakeside a 1-0 lead.

The score remained 1-0 till the third inning, when Lakeside added nine runs to its side of the board. Lloyd was hit by another pitch at the start of that inning, and O’Keefe walked the following at-bat.

Catcher Erick Aguirre followed with a stand-up double to right center, which drove in Lloyd and O’Keefe and gave Lakeside a 3-0 cushion. Russell walked the next at-bat. A groundout followed, but shortstop Zac Goins walked to load the bases.

Blayne Porterfield was then hit by a pitch, giving him an easy RBI as Adysen Kelley, Aguirre’s courtesy runner, scored. Russell scored the next at-bat on a passed ball at home plate and Lloyd later sent two more runs across the plate after reaching on an E6.

As the low throw got by Cabot first baseman Chris Odom, Goins and Porterfield scored while Lloyd ended up at second base.

Those two unearned runs gave Lakeside a 7-0 advantage, and with two outs in the inning, O’Keefe drove in two more with a double to deep right center.

The Rams scored their 10th run of the game on a pop up to second base by Russell that was dropped by the Centennial Bank second baseman.

Trailing 10-0 going into the bottom of the third, Cabot finally broke through with two runs scored. Leadoff hitter Blake McCutchen singled to the left-field gap to start the inning.

Braden Jarnagin hit an infield single to first base the next at-bat, and three-hole hitter Denver Mullins drove in McCutchen with a single up the middle of the diamond.

Cabot cut its deficit to 10-2 the following at-bat after cleanup hitter Easton Seidl hit into a 4-6 fielder’s choice, which allowed Jarnagin to score.

Lakeside added its final four runs in the top of the fourth. Porterfield walked to start the inning.

Race Tittle reached on an error at third base the next at-bat, and Kyle Lightsey walked to load the bases.

Lloyd then singled to left field, scoring Porterfield. Aguirre walked with the bases loaded two batters later, scoring Tittle and giving Lakeside a 12-2 lead.

Russell drove in another run after hitting into a 6-4 fielder’s choice and Carter West set the Rams’ run total for the game after doubling to deep center field.

In the bottom of the fourth, Cabot Red center fielder Jacob Slunder hit a stand-up triple to deep right center, and he scored the next at-bat after Nicholas Belden reached on an error at second base.

Belden went to second base on the bad throw to first, and he scored two batters later on a double to right center by McCutchen. That made it a 14-4 game. McCutchen advanced to third base the next at-bat on a sac fly to right field by Jarnagin.

Mullins hit a ground-rule double to straightaway center after Jarnagin’s at-bat, which allowed McCutchen to score and set the final score in the process.

O’Keefe got the win on the mound for Lakeside (2-2). He threw three full innings, giving up two runs on four hits. He walked just one Centennial Bank batter and struck out three.

McCutchen and Mullins led Cabot offensively. Each went 2 for 3 at the plate, while teammates Jarnagin, Seidl and Slunder had one hit apiece.

West went 3 for 4 at the plate for Lakeside to lead all batters.

The Cabot Red team (3-3) was scheduled to play in a doubleheader at Morrilton yesterday after deadlines, and are scheduled to play in another doubleheader tonight at home at 6 p.m. They will play Sheridan in the first game and then face the Cabot White team (1-6) after that.

The Cabot Red team is also scheduled to face Heber Springs on Saturday.

SPORTS STORY >> Point-less Lady Rabs beset by turnovers

Leader sports editor

The Lonoke girls’ basketball team got in some game time at the Mount St. Mary team camp on Monday. The Lady Jackrabbits have everyone back from last year’s state quarterfinal team, but was without starting point guard Kerasha Johnson, who is still recovering from surgery two months ago to repair a kneecap that kept dislocating.

Mount St. Mary’s and Jacksonville were also on hand, and each team played two 20-minute halves against the other two.

The Lady Jackrabbits beat Mount St. Mary 38-30 to start the evening. After Jacksonville played MSM, Lonoke faced Jacksonville with more disappointing results – a 46-23 loss.

Lonoke pulled away late in the first matchup against the host team. After trailing 16-12 at halftime, Lonoke opened the second half with an 11-2 run to lead 23-18 with 14:10 to play. Lonoke then gave up six-straight points and the Belles led briefly 24-23. MSM’s go-ahead bucket came at the 11:50 mark. Lonoke’s Eboni Willis got the lead right back with 11:34 left and sparked a 10-2 run that put the Lady Jackrabbits in control.

Lonoke coach Nathan Morris called timeout after Willis’ bucket and his team forced a turnover out of the break. That led to a transition bucket before MSM answered to make it 27-26. Willis, Amanda Sexton and Kimistri Balance scored consecutive baskets to make it 33-26 with 2:32 remaining.

After another MSM bucket, Willis scored at the two-minute mark. Jarrelyn McCall took an outlet pass after a miss, pulled up and drained a 3-pointer to make it 38-28 with 1:16 remaining. MSM added an uncontested layup at the buzzer to set the final margin.

While his team rested, Morris watched Jacksonville harass the Belles into 20 turnovers, and predicted a bad outcome when his team took the floor again.

“We’re liable to get 21 (turnovers),” Morris said. “We’ve got a little more speed than they (the Belles) do, but at least they get the pass and get low with it. We’re not getting down and protecting the ball. We’re not getting low to defend. And we’re tired. We’re not in shape yet and it looks like they (the Lady Red Devils) are.”

Morris was even more right than he thought. The Lady Jackrabbits committed 32 turnovers in the 40-minute, continuous clock contest.

Lonoke’s biggest deficit came at 10:17 left in the second half at 42-14. From that point, they held Jacksonville scoreless for nearly 10 minutes while scoring nine-straight points, but Jacksonville closed on a 4-0 run to set the final margin at 46-23.

Not having a point guard also hurt Lonoke against Jacksonville’s relentless pressure, and Morris recognized that.

“I hate that she can’t play with us this summer, but really in the long run, I think it’s going to make us better,” Morris said. “We know what she can do. We need to get some of these other kids some experience handling the ball and handling it against pressure.”

Willis, Sexton and Callie Whitfield each scored eight points for Lonoke while McCall, who led the team in scoring last season, added seven, all in the second half.

“She missed a bunch of shots early, but she’s not going to go 0 for 12 very often,” Morris said. “We want her doing just what she was doing. And the great thing about her is she doesn’t get down, or start crying or get frustrated. She’s such a great kid. She just keeps competing.”

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Devils strong at MSM

Leader sports editor

The Lady Red Devils dominated at the Mount St. Mary basketball team camp Monday. Jacksonville’s pressure forced 52 total turnovers in two, 40-minute games played with a continuous clock. The Lady Devils forced 20 turnovers and beat Mount St. Mary 37-25, then handled Lonoke 46-23 after forcing 32 turnovers.

Of the 32 turnovers forced against the Lady Jackrabbits, 24 of them were steals, of which senior point guard Antrice McCoy had half.

“She’s one of only two seniors on this team,” said Jacksonville coach William Rountree. “And I don’t think there is anybody that we’re going to play, that I would look over at that other one and say I’d rather have her than Antrice. She is exceedingly quick. She’s a hard worker and she is very coachable. And she had a really good night.”

The camp host scored first just 10 seconds into the game, but Jacksonville responded with a putback by Jerrica Holloway. McCoy then got her first steal and made a transition layup to put Jacksonville ahead for good just 40 seconds into the contest.

Jacksonville got two more quick steals, but failed to convert them into points. Holloway then got a steal and made a layup for a 6-2 lead. After a missed shot, Jacksonville got the rebound and threw an outlet pass to Desiree Williams, who pulled up and hit a 3-pointer to make it 9-2 and force a MSM timeout.

The Belles answered with four-straight points and forced a Jacksonville timeout with 13:55 left in the first half.

The pace slowed for a while. Jacksonville continued to force turnovers, but had trouble converting on the offensive end, and missed several free throws, which were worth two points each in the camp. All trips to the line were one-shot trips worth two points. Since the clock only stopped in the final two minutes of each half, time at the foul line was limited to keep the game moving.

The two teams played evenly with little scoring taking place for most of the rest of the half. Jacksonville closed with the final four points, both off steals by McCoy. She scored after one and dished to Tatiana Lacy after another.

The Lady Red Devils went into halftime leading 19-12, but had a bit more trouble forcing the pace early in the second.

Still, Jacksonville’s defense made it difficult for the Belles to score, too. Halfway through the second half, Jacksonville had only outscored MSM 4-2, and led 23-14. They took the nine-point lead on a shot by Alexis James with 9:56 remaining. James later added a bucket after a Holloway steal. She then got her own steal underneath the MSM goal, went the distance of the court and hit a driving layup to make it 27-16 with 7:34 left.

“Alexis is just a sophomore,” Rountree said. “She still needs to get a little tougher mentally and she has to improve on defense, but right now she’s already the kind of player on offense that can get into a rhythm and get a lot of points for you in a hurry.”

Two more buckets made it 31-16 with 5:51 left and put the Lady Devils in control the rest of the way.

McCoy, Holloway and James each finished with 10 points to lead Jacksonville.

Lonoke took the floor with Jacksonville immediately afterwards and that turned into a runaway quickly. McCoy got her first two steals in the first 20 seconds and converted both into easy layups. Jacksonville forced two more turnovers before Lonoke could get a shot off, but couldn’t convert them into points.

Lonoke coach Nathan Morris called timeout after his team committed four turnovers, all steals, in the first 90 seconds. It briefly stemmed the tide of turnovers, but Lonoke still had trouble scoring. Jacksonville broke the drought when James hit a free throw with 15:48 left to make it 6-0, and another scoring drought ensued for both teams. Lonoke finally broke that one when Amanda Sexton scored with 11:55 remaining to make it 6-2 and the two teams traded buckets for the next five minutes.

Jarrelyn McCall scored with 7:17 left to pull Lonoke to within 11-6, but Jacksonville answered with a 7-0 run that started with a Williams free throw. McCoy got a layup plus one to make it 16-6 and followed that with a transition bucket to put Jacksonville up by 12 with 1:15 left. McCall scored with 10 seconds on the clock to make it 18-8 at halftime.

Jacksonville opened the second half with a 9-0 run in just two minutes to take command of the game.

Eboni Willis scored for Lonoke, but James answered with a 3-pointer that made it a 20-point margin.

Lonoke scored on its next two possessions, but both were answered by Jacksonville 3-pointers. McCoy hit another and Holloway drained one to make it 36-14 with 11:32 remaining.

After another McCoy steal, Dasiah Woods drained a fourth-straight three for Jacksonville. McCoy then got her 11th steal and followed that with a traditional 3-point play for a 42-14 lead with 10:17 remaining.

Jacksonville didn’t score again for nearly 10 minutes while Lonoke went on a 9-0 run against Jacksonville substitute players.

Rountree reinserted his starters for the final two minutes. Holloway scored with 58 seconds left and McCoy got her final steal and layup at the buzzer.

McCoy scored 15 points to go with her 12 steals to lead all players in both categories. Williams added 10 points for Jacksonville. Holloway had nine points and eight steals and James added eight points and four steals.

“These summer camps are just a way for coaches to evaluate and for players to get some game-type experience in a little bit less intense environment than in the season,” Rountree said. “But still, I think anybody watching that had to be pleased with what they showed tonight. We could come back out here and lose two and look terrible, but that’s what these camps are about.”