Monday, February 23, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Lonoke girls advance

Leader sports editor

After two games against Helena-West Helena Central, it was no secret that stopping Kevonshaye Stackhouse would be the key to a Lonoke victory in the second round of the 4A-2 District tournament. And stop her they did. Stackhouse had scored 28 and 52 in the teams’ previous two meetings, but was held to nine points on Thursday as the Lady Jackrabbits won 60-30 at the Gina Cox Center.

Lonoke played a box-and-one defense much of the time with junior guard Kimistri Balance charged with sticking to Stackhouse.

“Kimistri frustrated her a little bit,” said Lonoke coach Nathan Morris. “Kimistri can play some defense. I thought she did a good job on here the first time even though she had 28. She was letting them fly from way out and they were falling for her. But I’m usually going to give you that shot. Now when we went over there, Kimistri and everybody else we had fouled out. So that’s how that happened.

“But Kimistri is pretty quick so she didn’t have much room even when she was trying to get open without the ball. And after a while she just wasn’t trying as hard. She got pretty frustrated.”

Both teams started slowly. Lonoke’s defense was good, forcing 10 Lady Cougar turnovers in the first quarter, but shots weren’t falling. Lonoke missed several point-blank layups, including three on one possession after a series of offensive rebounds.

Stackhouse left the game halfway through the first quarter with Lonoke leading 6-2. The lead was 6-3 two minutes later when Morris called timeout to address his team’s shooting woes.

“I don’t know why she went out, but we had a chance to put them away right then and I didn’t think we were playing with the kind of intensity we should’ve been,” Morris said.

“When you have to chance to put someone away early, I have a problem with lolly-gagging around.”

The team got the message. Lonoke finished the first quarter with an 8-0 run to take a 14-3 lead into the second period. The Lady Jackrabbits kept the run going in the second, pushing the lead to 22-5 as Jarrelyn McCall and Kerasha Johnson continued to effectively dribble into the lane for easy shots. Stackhouse re-entered the game with 4:30 left in the half and made an immediate impact. She scored four-straight, but Lonoke answered and stretched the lead to 30-12 by halftime.

Each team added one basket to start the third quarter before HWHC went on an 8-2 run to cut the margin to 34-22 with 2:40 left in the period. After a timeout by Morris, Johnson took over. She scored five-straight and seven of a 9-0 Lonoke run to end the third quarter, giving her team a 43-22 lead going into the fourth.

“That’s her thing, she has to get in the lane for us,” Morris said. “She did that today, and when they didn’t have any backside help, she was able to take it all the way in. She turned it around and played well, because she didn’t have a very good start.”

Johnson didn’t score in the fourth quarter. She only played a few minutes of the frame and didn’t have to attempt a shot. McCall and Eboni Willis combined for eight-straight to make it a 29-point game. Lady Cougar Janaija Havey then hit a 3-pointer, but Lonoke freshman Keiunna Walker scored five in a row, with a three-point play sending the margin beyond the mercy-rule limit of 30 points with 2:08 left in the game.

Stackhouse and Havey led HWHC with nine points each. McCall led all scorers with 22. Johnson added 17 and Willis scored 10 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Lonoke, now 14-12 overall, advances to the tournament’s third round, where it will play Heber Springs at 2 p.m. today in the old gym because weather caused the postponement of Friday’s scheduled games.