Tuesday, December 29, 2015

SPORT STORY >> Jackrabbits roll in second half

Leader sportswriter

The Lonoke boys held an eight-point halftime lead over Des Arc in the first round of the annual Goldfish Classic on Monday at the Gina Cox Center, but the host Jackrabbits put the game away in the second half, beating the Eagles 59-32.

The Jackrabbits, who improved their overall season record to 7-5 with the win, led 11-8 at the end of the first quarter and 21-13 at halftime. Despite having the lead at the break, Lonoke coach Dean Campbell wasn’t entirely pleased with his team after the first two quarters of play.

“We had spurts where we did some good things,” said Campbell. “I feel like we continue to play to the level of our competition. I just felt like we weren’t playing very hard. We weren’t competing. We were trying to do stuff on our own and not playing together.

“Our third quarters the last five games have been awful. We’ve talked about that, and I felt like we came out in the third quarter and really made a conscious effort to play hard, to compete, to share (the ball) – to do all the things we talk about and work on. I felt like we did that in the third quarter.”

Lonoke took its first double-digit lead with 5:42 left in the third quarter on a Kylan Branscomb putback, which made the score 26-15. Back-to-back 3-pointers by Jawaun Bryant and Haven Hunter gave the Jackrabbits a 34-21 lead, and with 1:05 left in the quarter, Bryant sank two free throws to push Lonoke’s lead to 15, with the score 36-21.

Bryant scored the rest of the points in the third quarter with a three near the top of the perimeter with 43 seconds remaining, giving the Jackrabbits a 39-21 cushion at the start of the fourth quarter.

A pair of Yancy Cooney threes helped Lonoke build its lead to 47-23 in the fourth, and Lonoke doubled Des Arc’s point total with 4:51 remaining on an old fashioned 3-point play by Tyler Spencer. Spencer’s and-1 put Lonoke on top 50-25.

Justin Meadows got an and-1 of his own with 2:25 to play, which made the score 55-30, and the final margin was set on a free throw by Tyler Washington with 28.8 seconds remaining.

Des Arc finished the game 15 for 34 from the floor for 44 percent. Lonoke was 22 for 43 from the floor for 51 percent. From 3-point range, Lonoke went 7 for 14 and Des Arc was 0 for 3.

In the second half alone, Lonoke made 13 of 24 shots from the floor and 5 of 7 shots from 3-point range. Campbell credited the high-percentage shooting in the second half to the increase in effort, teamwork and overall focus on both ends of the floor.

“That goes back to being locked in,” Campbell said. “I think when you play hard and together at one end, it carries over. When you share it and you put guys in positions where they’re effective and not having somebody trying to do something they’re not capable of doing.

“I think the shots that we got – those are shots that guys tend to make. I think the guys were doing things that they were capable of doing and not trying to do more than they’re capable of doing, and I think that transitioned into a good shooting percentage for us.”

Lonoke’s scoring was also well balanced. Bryant was the only Rabbit to score in double figures. He had a game-high 12 points. Hunter scored nine, Meadows scored eight, Cooney scored seven, Branscomb scored six, Spencer scored five, Michael Kelly scored four, Bryson Jackson and Washington scored three each, and Isaac Toney scored two.

Noah Kennedy led Des Arc with 11 points. He was the only Eagle to score in double figures. Lonoke played Malvern in the semifinals of the Goldfish Classic last night after deadlines and will wrap up tournament play today at the Gina Cox Center. Look for details of the rest of the tournament in Saturday’s edition of The Leader.