Tuesday, February 03, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Lonoke ladies pull away to beat Stuttgart

Leader sportswriter

After a close first half, the Lonoke girls took over the second half of their 4A-2 Conference game against Stuttgart on Friday at the Gina Cox Center, eventually winning by the convincing final score of 50-31.

Lonoke leading scorer Jarrelyn McCall scored the first two buckets of the game to give the Lady Jackrabbits an early 4-0 lead, but the Lady Ricebirds closed the gap to two by the end of the first quarter, with Lonoke leading 7-5.

Both teams had a better quarter, offensively, in the second quarter, and Lady Ricebird guard Shacara Humbert kept the visitors in the game with 10 points in that period. At halftime, Lonoke held a narrow 20-19 lead.

McCall and company came out of the second half on fire, as the Lady Rabbits opened the third quarter with a 14-0 run, which quickly pushed their lead to double digits with the score 34-19.

McCall scored eight of those points. Point guard Kerasha Johnson had four points during the run, and Eboni Willis had two. Lonoke was so hot from the floor that the fire alarm went off with 2:43 left in the third, with the score still at 34-19.

Play was briefly halted, and shortly after play resumed, Stuttgart scored its first points of the quarter on an inbounds pass from underneath the goal.

Lonoke, however, responded and pushed its lead to 17 before Humbert sank a buzzer-beating 3-pointer that cut the Lady Rabbits’ lead to 38-24 at the end of the third quarter.

Lonoke’s lead grew to as much as 22 in the fourth quarter. McCall got an and-1 with 2:45 left to play, which made the score 48-26. Each team added a basket before Lonoke coach Nathan Morris emptied his bench with 1:36 remaining, which helped Stuttgart close the gap to 19 by game’s end.

“We came out and we played a little better in the second half,” said Morris. “They’re a streaky team, too, and we were able to jump on them. I didn’t know how things were going to go out of the delay, and sure enough, they score off the inbounds. We didn’t do a very good job there, but we did look a little better.

“We defended, got some rebounds. I still want us to block out a little bit better and get the ball, but we played much better in the second half.”

McCall scored nearly half of Lonoke’s points Friday. She finished the game with 24 points, leading all scorers. Teammates Willis and Amanda Sexton each scored 11 points for Lonoke, and Johnson scored four.

Humbert was the only Lady Ricebird to score in double figures. She accounted for more than half of her team’s point total for the night, finishing with 16 points.

With the win, the Lady Jackrabbits’ record improved to 11-11 overall and 5-8 in 4A-2 Conference play. Stuttgart’s record dropped to 5-14 overall, and the Lady Ricebirds remain winless in league play.

The Lady Rabbits were off yesterday, but they’ll resume conference play Friday at home against Central Arkansas Christian (20-2), who’s ranked No. 2 in Class 4A. The Lady Mustangs knocked off previously unbeaten Riverview last Friday, which moved them to the No. 2 spot in the latest rankings behind top-ranked Ozark.

Tip-off for Friday’s game is at 6 p.m.