Tuesday, February 03, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Jackrabbits roll Ricebirds in second

Leader sportswriter

A close game turned into what later became a blowout in the second quarter, as Lonoke routed visiting Stuttgart 64-35 in Friday’s 4A-2 Conference game at the Gina Cox Center.

Lonoke led 8-7 at the end of the first quarter, but turned up the pressure, defensively, in the second, and got hot from the floor as well.

The Jackrabbits made just 3 of 10 shots from the floor in the first quarter, but made 9 of 12 in the second quarter. Stuttgart went 4 for 14 from the field in the first half. Lonoke had four different players combine to score those nine field goals in the second quarter, and the hosts forced six Stuttgart turnovers in the second quarter, while committing just two in that period.

The result of those statistics helped the Jackrabbits take a comfortable 30-13 lead into halftime.

“The way the game started, I told (Lonoke assistant) coach (Heath) Swinney at the end of the first quarter, we’ve got to come home to shoot worse,” said Lonoke coach Dean Campbell. “We’d been shooting pretty well on the road, and here we are at home and we kind of started off worse. But we’ve been handling that.

“We’ve been handling getting shots and getting shots in practice, getting game shots at game speed, and really working hard at that. You can see the results of that. It’s really starting to come together.

“That’s the result of the time that these guys are putting in. I’m excited for them. I know they’re excited. It was a good win.”

The second-quarter cushion the Rabbits built helped early in the third quarter, as the Ricebirds opened the second half with a 7-0 run, which trimmed the Lonoke lead to 30-20.

That was as close as Stuttgart would get to catching up with the Rabbits, however, as the hosts pushed their lead to 15 by the end of the third quarter, leading 43-28.

Twelve seconds into the fourth quarter, Lonoke’s Brenton Bryant scored on a short jumper off the glass, which pushed the Rabbit lead to 45-28. Lonoke furthered its lead to 20-plus with 5:16 to play on a putback by Yancy Cooney, making the score 53-32.

With 1:42 remaining, Lonoke reached 60 points on a 3-pointer by Cooney, giving Lonoke a 25-point lead with the score 60-35. The Jackrabbits’ lead reached 29 by game’s end on another Cooney putback – this one setting the final score.

Cooney didn’t play until late in the game, but played well when he got his chance in the fourth quarter, scoring seven points and grabbing five rebounds in that time. It was something Campbell was pleased to see.

“He’s been coming along,” Campbell said of Cooney. “We’ve been working with him on trying to be stronger with the ball. He’s a kid that loves it. He loves to play, loves to compete, and works his tail off each and every day like all of them do. But I’m excited for him.”

Lonoke finished the game 25 of 47 from the floor for 53 percent. Stuttgart made 14 of 31 shot attempts for 45 percent. From the free-throw line, the Jackrabbits made 9 of 12 attempts for 75 percent.

The Ricebirds made 5 of 18 shots from the stripe for 28 percent.

The Jackrabbits also won the rebounding and turnover categories. Lonoke doubled Stuttgart’s rebounding total, 26-13, and the hosts committed eight turnovers to the Ricebirds’ total of 13.

Jawaun Bryant led all scorers with 17 points. Two other Lonoke players scored in double figures Friday. Tyler Spencer scored 13 points, and Brenton Bryant scored 11. David Andrews led Stuttgart (5-14, 4-8) with eight points.

Lonoke (9-11, 6-7) was off last night, but will resume 4A-2 Conference play this Friday night with a home game against Central Arkansas Christian. That game will tip off after the girls’ game, which starts at 6 p.m.