Friday, December 04, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Lonoke survives Daredevils

Leader sportswriter

CONWAY – Lonoke won its second game of the round-robin style St. Joseph Class on Thursday, but it didn’t come easy. The Jackrabbits entered the fourth quarter tied with recent Class 1A powerhouse Wonderview, but Lonoke took the lead for good 58 seconds into the final quarter, and ended up winning 53-48.

The game was tied 43-43 entering the final eight minutes of action. Lonoke struck first in the fourth quarter with a Haven Hunter 3-pointer from the corner with 7:02 to play. The Jackrabbits never lost the lead, but the Daredevils kept it close throughout the fourth quarter.

Before the final score was set, Lonoke led by five at 48-43 and 50-45. Both baskets that put the Jackrabbits up by that margin were scored by junior post player Kylan Branscomb.

After taking the 50-45 lead, Wonderview made it a two-point game on the following possession with a 3-pointer by Dusty Hahn. Hahn made three threes in the second half. His third made it 50-48.

With 1:37 remaining, Hunter added the next basket on a long jumper, which gave the Jackrabbits a 52-48 cushion. Lonoke’s defense stayed strong and kept Wonderview off the board the rest of the way, and Jawaun Bryant added the final point of the game on a free throw with 9.5 seconds to play.

Wonderview’s overall record this season dropped to 3-10 with the loss, but many of those losses were close games, and the Daredevils showed Thursday they’re a better team than that record indicates.

“They’ve got kids that shoot it real well,” said Lonoke coach Dean Campbell of Wonderview. “At times we got frustrated with them. They play extremely hard and they’re a good ballclub. They place a lot of different challenges for us.

“We had our moments where we didn’t finish plays, but we were able to overcome, and we hunted and found those people that were being successful for us and fed it to them.”

Branscomb had the hot hand in the second half for Lonoke. He scored 12 of his team-high 16 points in quarters three and four, and was one of the biggest keys to the team’s success Thursday.

“He’s still developing,” Campbell said of his junior post player. “He’s very young to the game – didn’t play hardly at all in junior high, as a ninth grader – got thrown in a little bit last year.

“He’s really making huge strides and will continue. I believe the ceiling is very high for him.”

Bryant led Lonoke’s first-half scoring. He scored 10 of his 14 points in the first two quarters. The Rabbits led 7-2 at the start of the game, and 15-12 at the end of the first quarter.

Lonoke maintained its three-point lead at halftime, with the score 31-28. Branscomb added the first two baskets of the second half to give Lonoke a 35-28 cushion, but Wonderview battled back and tied the game 38-38.

The Jackrabbits took a 43-40 lead late in the quarter before Wonderview’s college prospect, MJ Griffin, drained a buzzer-beating three that tied it at 43-43.

Lonoke finished the game 19 for 47 from the floor for 40 percent. Wonderview was 18 for 39 shooting for 46 percent. The Daredevils made 7 of 12 threes, and the Rabbits made 4 of 18 shots from downtown. From the free-throw line, Lonoke made 11 of 16 attempts, while Wonderview made 5 of 11.

The Jackrabbits had just seven turnovers for the game, while forcing 24 Wonderview turnovers.

Branscomb and Bryant were the only Jackrabbits to score in double figures, but Bryson Jackson added eight points, Isaac Toney six, Tyler Spencer four and Yancy Cooney two.

Griffin led all scorers with 20 points.

By beating Wonderview on Thursday and Perryville on Wednesday, Lonoke advances to today’s championship game at St. Joseph High School, where it’ll play Guy-Perkins at 6:40 p.m.

With Thursday’s win, Lonoke improved its overall season record to 5-1. The Jackrabbits lost for the first time this year Tuesday at Southside Batesville. The Southerners won that game 52-44.

Lonoke trailed by two going into the fourth quarter of that 4A-2 Conference game, but were outscored 18-12 in the final eight minutes to set the eight-point margin.

Bryant led the Jackrabbits (1-1 in conference play) against the Southerners with 15 points. Jackson added 11.