Thursday, December 31, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot girls finish sixth of 32 teams

Leader sports editor

After winning two games on Monday, the Lady Panther basketball team went 1-1 on Tuesday and lost its final game on Wednesday to finish sixth in the Spring Creek Barbecue Invitational Tournament in Mansfield, Texas. Cabot beat Mansfield-Legacy 48-33 to open the tournament, and then advanced to the quarterfinals with a 26-22 win over Southlake-Carroll.

In Tuesday’s quarterfinal game, the Lady Panthers fell to South Grand Prairie 32-29. Cabot (9-6) held a 21-12 lead at halftime, but managed just eight points in the second half. SGP’s Kayla Wells was the game’s only player to score in double figures, finishing with 13 points. The Lady Panthers stayed alive and advanced to the final round of the double elimination tournament with a 51-44 win over Pflugerville High.

This time Cabot trailed at halftime, 27-25, but came back for the win. Senior guard CoCo Calhoon led all scorers with 14 points while Josie Vanoss added 10 for the Lady Panthers.

In Wednesday’s fifth-place game, the Lady Panthers lost 46-39 to Allen High in their fifth game in three days. Allen led from pillar to post after taking a 15-9 lead in the first quarter. Cabot cut the margin to 25-21 by halftime, but Allen extended the lead to 39-30 by the end of the third quarter.

Vanoss and Anna Sullivan each scored 11 points to lead Cabot. Nyah Green led Allen with 16 points while De’Anira Moore added 11.

The Lady Panthers are off until Friday when they open 7A/6A-East Conference play with a big road game at North Little Rock (10-3).

SPORTS STORY >> Badgers hang tough in tournament play

Leader sports editor

After dominating Greene County Tech in their opening game of the Badger Christmas Classic, the Beebe boys dropped their last two on Tuesday and Wednesday. Beebe hosted Maumelle in the second round. The Hornets have invoked the mercy rule on opponents several times this season, but the 2-6 Badgers gave them a tough battle before succumbing to Maumelle’s depth late and losing 69-59.

On Wednesday, Blytheville, who had beat Harding Academy 76-67 Monday and lost 64-49 to Marion on Tuesday, jumped out to a 7-0 lead on the Badgers and never trailed, winning 58-47.

In Tuesday’s game, Beebe out-hustled and out-executed the heavily favored Hornets in the first half, and held a 33-29 lead at halftime. But Maumelle’s Division I prospect point guard Shawn Williams changed that in the second half. Beebe missed its first six shots of the third quarter, and Williams hit four 3-pointers. Beebe went from up four to down eight in three minutes. The rest of the game was played evenly, but the Badgers couldn’t make up the ground lost in the first few minutes of the second half.

Despite alternating bet-ween a 2-3 and a 2-1-2 zone and forcing a slow pace, Blytheville jumped out to a 7-0 lead three minutes into the game, but Beebe tightened up its defense and pulled within 11-9 by the end of the first quarter.

The second period went much the same as the first. The Chickasaws scored most of the points in early part of the quarter, taking a 20-11 lead halfway through the period. Austin Moore then got hot from outside. He hit a 3-pointer from the right corner.

After a Blytheville turnover, he hit another 3-pointer to pull the Badgers to within 20-17. With two minutes left in the quarter, Grant Jackson hit a free throw that made it 22-20, but scoring almost ceased from that point. Blytheville got a bucket with 30 seconds remaining and that’s how the game went into halftime.

The Chickasaws and Badgers came out of the locker room playing man defense, and the offense opened up a bit for both teams.

Blytheville’s ball movement created several open shots at point-blank range, while Beebe post players Jackson and Brad Worthington created a few open shots with good footwork after taking entry passes from outside.

Almost the entire quarter was played with Blytheville’s lead alternating between six and four points.

Beebe got within four several times and had a couple of possessions to get closer with no success. Blytheville guard Robert Moss came off the bench and hit a 3-pointer that gave the Chickasaws their biggest lead since the run that started the game. Beebe cut the margin to five twice after that, but still went into the fourth quarter trailing 41-34.

Moore converted a 3-point play to start the fourth to pull the Badgers back to within four, but that’s as close as the host team got the rest of the way. The Chickasaws went back to their zone defenses and Beebe couldn’t hit from outside.

Moore led the Badgers with 16 points while Worthington added 10. Tony Newmy and Mahlik Lewis each scored 12 for the Chickasaws (6-4).

Maumelle moved on to win the tournament and improve to 10-1 this season, beating Marion 65-58 in Wednesday night’s championship game.

In other final round games on Wednesday, Greene County Tech beat Brookland 61-52 in double overtime for seventh place, and Harding Academy defeated city rival Riverview 63-50 in the fifth-place game.

SPORTS STORY >> ’Rabbits go 2-1 at Goldfish Classic

Leader sportswriter

The third annual Goldfish Classic came to a close Wednesday night at the Gina Cox Center in Lonoke, and ended with a pair of close games in the boys’ and girls’ finals.

In the boys’ final, Malvern overcame a 14-3 deficit at the start of the game to beat England 53-50, and in the girls’ final, England beat Lonoke 64-61. It’s the second year in a row the England girls won the Goldfish Classic.

The Jackrabbits finished third in the boys’ tournament. Their only loss came to Malvern in Tuesday’s semifinal. The Leopards won that game 67-51, but Lonoke won the third-place game over a conference rival that beat the Jackrabbits earlier last month.

The Jackrabbits beat Stuttgart in Wednesday’s third-place game by the final score of 67-58. The win avenged a 52-42 home loss to the Ricebirds earlier in December. Wednesday’s game was tied at 7-7 in the early goings, but Lonoke ended the first quarter on a 5-0 run to lead 12-7, and the Jackrabbits led the rest of the game.

“It’s good in a few different areas,” said Lonoke coach Dean Campbell of the win. “It’s good because they’re a conference opponent. They did beat us here (in Lonoke). So, I felt like it was important for our guys. We can’t let them feel like, ‘they’re 2-0 on our floor and now we’re going to their place.’

“It’s just as much of a mental thing as it is a physical win/loss on the scoreboard. It was a real good group effort, team effort, and all our guys competed hard and that makes a difference.”

It took a team effort to win Wednesday’s game over the Ricebirds, and it helped the team got a 31-point scoring night from senior guard Jawaun Bryant. Bryant made play after play throughout Wednesday night’s matchup, but his most impressive shot of the night was a half-court buzzer-beater at the end of the first half.

That shot hit nothing but net, and gave Lonoke a 32-24 lead at halftime.

“He was playing aggressive on both ends and playing hard,” Campbell said of Bryant. “There were other people around him that played hard. When the other people around him aren’t playing hard, then the defense doesn’t have to concentrate on them.

“But because others were contributing and playing hard – they (Stuttgart) were really extending what they were doing. There were bigger gaps and opportunities to go score, so he had a good day.”

Kylan Branscomb also scored in double figures for Lonoke on Wednesday, finishing with 12 points and a team-high seven rebounds.

The Carlisle boys and girls each went 1-2 at the Goldfish Classic. The boys beat archrival Hazen for the second time this season on Tuesday, winning that consolation game by the final score of 57-52.

That put the Bison in Wednesday’s fifth-place game against Bald Knob. Carlisle battled with the Bulldogs throughout, but a big third quarter helped Bald Knob escape with a 69-65 win.

Three different Bison scored in double figures Wednesday. Guard Demarcus Houston scored 11 points for Carlisle and Devon Kendrick scored 16, but senior forward Brynden Weems had the biggest game Wednesday, scoring 24 points and adding a game-high 12 rebounds.

The Carlisle girls lost to tournament champion England 68-46 in Tuesday’s semifinal round. That put the Lady Bison in the third-place game against Class 4A Malvern, and the Lady Leopards overcame a sluggish start to win 57-50.

Carlisle led 7-0 at the start of the game, and held its largest lead at 15-6. The Lady Leopards, though, then went on a 3-point frenzy, draining 5 of 8 threes in the first quarter alone, and by the end of the quarter, Malvern led 17-16.

The Lady Leopards pushed their lead to six by halftime, leading 29-23, but Carlisle closed the gap to 39-38 by the end of the third quarter.

Malvern opened the fourth quarter with a 10-3 run to lead 49-41. The Lady Bison got within 55-50 of the Lady Leopards’ lead with 20.3 seconds left to play, but could get no closer.

Kylie Warren and Arius McClain led the Lady Bison in scoring Wednesday. They each scored 13 points. Warren added six rebounds, four steals and three assists. Elex McClain and Blakely Ellis each scored nine points Wednesday.

Elex McClain added eight rebounds to her stats, and teammates Kayla Golleher and NicQuira Burnett scored three points apiece.

SPORTS STORY >> England beats Lonoke in final

Leader sportswriter

The Lonoke girls fell into a 15-point hole in the championship game of the third annual Goldfish Classic on Wednesday at the Gina Cox Center. The Lady Jackrabbits made a valiant comeback attempt late, but came up short in the end, losing 64-61 to England.

England (15-1), who also won the 2014 Goldfish Classic, came out pressing at the start of the game and it was highly effective. The Lady Lions forced some early turnovers, and on the offensive end, England made five of its first six shots, which aided in the Lady Lions scoring the first 12 points of the game.

Lonoke’s first basket of the game was scored by Jarrelyn McCall with 4:59 to go in the opening quarter, but England responded with a 6-1 run to take an 18-3 lead.

“The girls came out with real good energy,” said England coach David Mackey. “It carried over from (Tuesday) night. The girls just came out on fire and that 18-3 run really gave us a pep start.”

Lonoke (10-4), though, ended the first quarter with a 5-0 run to cut the England lead to 18-8. The Lady Lions led 23-11 near the midway point of the second quarter, but a McCall 3-pointer with 2:22 left in the half sparked a 7-0 Lonoke run, which brought the Lady Jackrabbits within 25-22 of England’s lead.

That run was capped with a McCall contested layup off the glass with 44 seconds remaining. England, though, took a five-point lead into halftime, leading 30-25.

England found some separation in the third quarter. The Lady Lions were able to push their lead back to double digits, taking their largest lead of the quarter at 49-36.

Back-to-back baskets by Lonoke’s Keiunna Walker got it back to single digits, 49-40, and the margin stayed at nine at the end of three, with England leading 51-42.

The Lady Lions’ last double-digit lead was 58-46. A Kaley Woodruff three at the midway point of the fourth quarter got it back to single digits, with the score 58-49. England junior post Shavonta Blanks got a big basket in the paint with 2:25 to play, which pushed the Lady Lion lead to 60-51.

Lonoke was forced to foul as England held the ball down the stretch. The Lady Lions went 4 for 9 from the free-throw line in the final two minutes. A Woodruff three with 1:30 remaining made it a six-point game, with Lonoke trailing 60-54, and Mickenzie Williams made two one-and-one free throws to make the score 62-56 England with 1:06 to play.

McCall then got a steal on England’s ensuing possession, and took it the length of the floor for a fast-break layup with 53 seconds remaining. That made it a four-point game, with England leading 62-58.

England added the next two points to push its lead to six. Walker made 1 of 2 free throws with 8.9 seconds left to make it a five-point game, and Williams added a contested layup that just beat the buzzer, setting the final score.

“I think that’s the positive spot,” said Lonoke coach Nathan Morris of the team’s comeback efforts. “We didn’t give in, we didn’t cave. I think the disappointing thing is they (England) did nothing different than they did against us at the Conway St. Joseph tournament.”

Lonoke lost 52-41 to England in the championship game of the St. Joseph Classic last month.

“I wouldn’t feel as bad if we hadn’t already seen that,” Morris said. “I’m a little disappointed in that, but the effort coming back – we had chances here and there. But it just seemed every time we needed a key something, we didn’t get that key something.”

Lonoke finished the game 19 for 37 from the floor for 51 percent. England was 22 for 49 from the floor for 45 percent. From the free-throw line, the Lady Rabbits made 20 of 31 attempts, and the Lady Lions were 17 for 34.

England outrebounded Lonoke 30-23, and the Lady Lions won the turnover margin 14-21.

Each team had three players score in double figures. Walker led all scorers with 26 points. McCall finished with 12 points and Williams scored 11. For England, Alesha Penister led the way with 25 points and a game-high 12 rebounds. Tatayana Penister scored 16 and Blanks added 13.

SPORTS STORY >> Beebe ladies almost beat number one

Leader sports editor

The Beebe Lady Badgers suffered a reversal of fortunes between the semifinals and final of the Badger Christmas Classic. In Tuesday’s semifinal round, the Lady Badgers overcame a 12-point fourth-quarter deficit to defeat Searcy 62-53. In Wednesday’s championship game against the state’s overall number two ranked Riverview Lady Raiders, Beebe lost an 11-point lead in the fourth quarter and fell 51-47.

Riverview, ranked No. 1 in Class 4A, entered the game 15-0 and had mercy ruled 12 of those opponents, but were forced to come from behind for the first time this season against Beebe. Lady Badger coach Greg Richey felt the nature of the loss was difficult to take, but still put the game in perspective.

“There’s a reason they’re ranked one or two in the state,” said Richey. “If we can take that same effort into conference and beyond, we have a chance. We wanted to see where we stood against the best in the state, and I feel like we proved we’re capable of beating anybody. We just have to continue that same kind of effort we got tonight. Give that kind of effort and cut down on the turnovers, and we have a chance.”

Turnovers ultimately led to Beebe’s downfall on Wednesday. The Lady Badgers entered the fourth quarter already having given the ball up 17 times, and committed 13 more turnovers in the fourth quarter alone.

Beebe’s defense continued to play hard and continued to make things very difficult for Riverview offensively, but the mounting turnovers led to a big disparity in shot attempts in Riverview’s favor.

Riverview took its first lead when Kayla Young got a steal and layup with 2:05 remaining in the game. Gracie Anders was called for traveling on Beebe’s next possession, but Kassidy Elam got a steal to give the Lady Badgers possession with 1:15 to play. Badger sophomore Katie Turner hit a layup with 48 seconds left to put Beebe back in front 47-46, but Erykah Johns went the distance of the floor for a layup at the other end just 10 seconds later.

Beebe then lost the ball out of bounds and the Lady Badgers were forced to foul Madison Riley, who hit 1 of 2 free throws with 15 seconds remaining. Beebe’s press break executed the next possession perfectly, resulting in a wide-open, 10-foot baseline jumper by Libbie Hill that bounced off the back of the rim. Kiara Cartwright got the rebound, was fouled and hit both free throws to set the final margin with five seconds left in the game.

“We got a shot we wanted, and that’s a shot Libbie hits eight out of 10 times in practice,” Richey said. “We had a couple other open shots I wish we could’ve made that would’ve made a big difference, too. That’s just how it goes sometimes.”

Beebe didn’t give up a basket the entire first quarter, limiting the Lady Raiders to two free throws by Riley, and took a 13-2 lead into the second quarter.

Riverview then scored the first nine points of the second quarter to pull within two, but Beebe weathered that storm, and stretched its lead back to 25-18 by halftime.

Anders and Taylor McGraw each scored 11 points for Beebe while Turner added 10. Young scored 17 to lead Riverview while Johns had 16 and Riley 11.

On Tuesday, Beebe held Searcy to just three free throws in the fourth quarter, making Wednesday’s first quarter a complete half of basketball without giving up a single basket.

“My kids showed a lot of tenacity and when we get consistent for four quarters we should be tough to handle,” Richey said.

McGraw led that comeback despite finishing the game with a bloody mouth from a busted lip that required stitches. She hit four 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and got a pair of steals that changed the momentum drastically early in the fourth quarter.

The Lady Badgers will play their 5A-Central Conference opener at home on Tuesday against Mills University Studies.

EDITORIAL >> New Year’s resolutions

Happy New Year to our readers and the communities The Leader covers. May 2016 be fortunate and filled with blessings, good health and sustenance. We’ve been reflecting on the big stories that kept us occupied in 2015 so we thought we’d offer a few New Year’s resolutions and goals for our hometowns.


May the new Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District succeed in having voters approve a much needed property tax increase on Feb. 9 that will build a $60 million high school near Main Street and Hwy. 67/167. It will also pay for repairs to several other schools that the Pulaski County Special School District neglected to maintain for decades.

We hope that the new school district’s board members and administrators will report good news every month about how they are improving schools and academic programs.

We hope they will also work to improve ties with the community, parents and teachers and avoid the ugly divisions that plagued PCSSD for too long. They are charged with rebuilding everything PCSSD destroyed.

May the Jacksonville City Council discover ways to reinvigorate the economic prospects of the city, improve its roads and community events. Also, we hope to hear soon that building will start on a planned medical complex near North Metro Medical Center. Residents may suspect that the announcement for that project, made during a heated mayoral race, was premature and has since died on the vine.

In the new year, we want to see North Metro Medical Center, along with its owner Allegiance Health Management of Shreveport, La., improve its management problems and rededicate itself to the communities it serves: Jacksonville, Cabot and Little Rock Air Force Base. The bad news cannot go on much longer for the troubled medical center.


We hope Cabot in 2016 has much success with its array of projects financed with a bond issue that’s funded by a sales tax. Thanks to forward-thinking residents, Cabot will offer some of the best parks, community centers and ball fields in central Arkansas.

The sales tax also paid for Cabot’s new library and is improving street drainage and road projects like a new Hwy. 67/167 interchange that will improve traffic and access to the heart of town.

Planning and zoning meetings were heated at times as angry residents turned out to criticize planned real estate projects. State Rep. Tim Lemons, who is also an engineer, has been hired by developers to get city approval for more than a few endeavors that were unpopular with his constituents.

Here’s hoping for a few building projects that all of Cabot can enjoy, or at least some that won’t upset the neighbors.


We hope Sherwood’s plan to build a new library on a sprawling 14-acre site near Sylvan Hills Middle School off Hwy. 107 goes well. If done right, Sherwood could be home to the best branch in the Central Arkansas Library System.

The project’s planners should strive to outdo the Hillary Rodham Clinton Children’s Library and Learning Center in Little Rock, which is likely the best of its kind in the country.

Sherwood has the opportunity to do something innovative and great for its community.


We hope that Lonoke city officials in 2016 can solve the mystery of where 40 percent of its water supply is being lost every month. Some improvements seem to be taking place. In November, the city’s water loss was only 4.7 million gallons, but that’s still too wasteful to put up with.


Lonoke County’s second largest city, Ward, should have an excellent New Year despite losing its library after state budget cuts hit the Lonoke-Prairie Regional Library System and competition from Cabot’s new state-of-the-art library rendered the small and out-of-date Ward branch obsolete. The city has a lot to look forward to and the library’s closure is not a warning of things to come.


May Austin’s planned independent census show that the little community isn’t so little anymore and earn it some much needed state and federal turnback money to continue on its path toward growth. Its plan to expand and remodel city hall should also make progress in 2016.


Another city on the cusp of big growth, Beebe is poised to attract new businesses and balance its finances so it can build a community center and restore its historic downtown buildings, perhaps joining prestigious Main Street Arkansas cities.

There’s more work to be done for all of our communities, and we hope to report on them in every edition of The Leader. Ring in the good year with family and friends, and may we all meet our goals this coming year. Happy 2016.

TOP STORY >> Kickoff set Tuesday for millage vote

Leader senior staff writer

The Jacksonville Education Corps will kick off the campaign in support of the upcoming millage election at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the community center. The meeting will be open to the public.

Renderings of the new high school will be unveiled for the first time.

If Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District patrons pass a 7.6-mill increase on Feb. 9, the district will build a new $60 million high school and fund other capital projects.

Superintendent Tony Wood is expected to recommend the hiring Mike Hudgeons as principal of the Jacksonville Middle School when the Jacksonville North Pulaski School Board meets for the first time in the new year at 6:30 p.m. Monday at Jacksonville City Hall, according to JNP chief of staff Phyllis Stewart.

That would make Hudgeons the first administrative hire for year one of the new district. Hudgeons is currently Jacksonville Middle School principal, but under the Pulaski County Special School District.

He was brought in last year by PCSSD Superintendent Jerry Guess in consultation with JNP interim superintendent Bobby Lester to help the middle school, which is in academic distress.

Eldon Bock, principal architect for WER Architects for the JNP building program, will update the board on planning for the high school, including space possibilities for an automotive repair program and the culinary arts program.

The board may vote on previously introduced sections of school board policy, and another section will be introduced for review, Stewart said.

Wood, who would like the board to consider outsourcing custodial and food service for the district, has learned that the district must apply to the state Board of Education first, according to Stewart.

If the state board approves the applications, then the JNP board will have the option to outsource those services if they wish. If the state board does not approve, outsourcing will not be an option, Stewart said.

TOP STORY >> Looking back on 2015

Compiled by Leader staff writer RICK KRON 

In this final of four articles looking back at The Leader’s front-page headlines of 2015, the last quarter of the year featured everything but snow. There was talk of lawsuits, a tragic accident, unmade payments, pushes for millage hikes, holds on executions, possible hospital shenanigans and a dry county looking at going wet.


• Despite lawsuit, Beebe borrows to extend water – City council approves borrowing up to $1 million for pipelines.

• It’s been tough for agriculture – Farmers have roughest year since 2010 and many cash out.

• C-130Js stay at Keesler in 2016 budget – Congressman French Hill fails to move 10 coveted cargo planes from Mississippi to LRAFB.

• JNPSD wants millage hike – As new board is sworn in, district considers tax increase and long-range needs.

• Hospital overdue on taxes – North Metro owes more than $2.1 million in unpaid state and federal withholding taxes, faces other problems.

• Plan for Cabot’s vacant council seat – Aldermen will add election for open position to primary election in March.

• More cable, Internet for Cabot – City council vote to allow another firm to construct, maintain and operate communications network.

• Historic Austin cemetery dates back to 1831 – Restoration is underway at the final resting place to many 19th Century Arkansans.

• Executions on hold for area killers – Judge Griffen says state not forthcoming about drugs for execution.

• Lawsuit possible on repairing faulty road project – Seven blocks of Palm Street in Lonoke, leading to the high school, are impassable and would cost about $200,000 to fix.

• Main Street mission backed by state – Jacksonville could get free advice on how to revive downtown.

• Officials seeking Osborne fixtures – Jacksonville chamber wants to bring famed Christmas display ad lights to city as a tourist draw.

• Hospital workers are uninsured – Employees were told that North Metro had not paid their health insurance policies for months.

• Hospital hoping benefits restored – Employees keeping fingers crossed insurance company will pay.

• Food pantry marks 40th year – Cabot Church of Christ has been helping the less fortunate in the area since 1975.

• Dry county exploring benefits of liquor sales – Lonoke County Quorum Court votes unanimously to ask UALR Extension Service to look at tax revenue from alcohol.

• Cabot gets award for managing its floods – Named city of the year by floodplain association for drainage work and Police Chief Jackie Davis named state police chief of the year.

• Complaints by workers increasing at hospital – North Metro’s operating room all but shuttered as supplies run low, payment deadline looms and liens are filed.

• Donor’s heart beating – A Cabot teen’s tragedy becomes a gift for another young person and others around the country.

• Nurses singing doctor’s praises – Embattled physician has many fans at Jacksonville hospital.

• Construction projects are over budget – Delays add to the cost of Cabot’s new sports complex and community center.

• Body cameras donated – Anonymous donor helps Jacksonville police department buy more equipment.

• Library bonds sold in two hours – Sherwood council told funding for $6 million is secured and at a good rate.

• Liquor drive may have to reboot again – Jacksonville to ask attorney general if old signatures still valid.

• Census in Austin may be too high – Town would see more funding but is $95,000 cost worth it?

• Still looking to fix bad street repair – Resurfacing on Palm Street in Lonoke was so badly done, nobody can safely drive on it.


• Kerr Station Road shut down for 60 days for drainage work – Improvement project will involve extension work to reduce flooding.

• Marijuana brought to state from Colorado – Area law enforcement agencies say visitors bringing it with them.

• New district headquarters – Remodeling work un-derway on repurposed JNP school administration building.

• Community mourns fatalities – The four young Cabot women are praised for their love of life and work with kids.

• Jacksonville teacher arrested for rape – His alleged victims were students at private school in Little Rock.

• Downtown site chosen – Lower enrollment means new high school will be small at the old Jacksonville Middle School site.

• Library is given a grand opening – New $2.6 million Cabot facility showcased at ribbon-cutting ceremony.

• Vietnam War helicopter restored – Old chopper returned to pristine state and back on display at museum.

• Competitive races in ’16 after filings – Contests include House and Senate and Lonoke County judge.

• Lattes, espressos for Powell store – Historic site in Beebe’s downtown square set to reopen as a coffee shop.

• Hearing to settle territory dispute over water – Jacksonville does not like Sherwood’s push to gain acreage.

• A and P money faces reckoning – Jacksonville will probably change the way it funds nonprofits with “hamburger tax.”

• Core samples set for botched road – Lonoke City Council will spend $3,550 to try to figure out what went wrong on Palm Street.

• Victim’s DNA detected in Lewis’ vehicle – Alleged killer of realtor Beverly Carter tries to exclude some evidence from trial.

• Director can keep $21,000 – Beebe mayor says deal was made privately and was not improper.

• Hospital CEO: Criticism will cause trouble – North Metro owner Rock Bordelon and Dr. Tracy Phillips, chief medical officer issue warning to staff to toe the line.

• Groups worried they could lose special funding – Boys and Girls Club, military museum and Reed’s Bridge hit hardest.

• Director agrees to pay back $21,000 – Rhetoric heats up after parks chief overpaid for nearly four years.

• Water dispute pits neighbors – Jacksonville sees Sherwood’s move as threat to its customer base.

• Work halts on highway bridge – Change order, utility relocation stalls Main Street overpass in Jacksonville.

• Doctors are told to repay insurer – Cigna has taken back claims it paid for North Metro employees and their families; employees responsible now.

• Halfway house is proposed for Lonoke County – State money available to build re-entry facility for ex-convicts.

• Farmers market pavilion – Sherwood’s advertising and promotion commission puts up $600,000 to build shaded event space.

• Downtown new site for festival – Strawberry celebration moving from Veterans Park in Cabot.

• Neighbors voice anger at rezoning – Cabot’s planning and zoning commission approves request for planned unit developments.

• Garbage rates on the rise – Sherwood City Council approves raising pickup fees by $5 a month in 2016.


• Judge O’Bryan can stay on the bench – Charges dropped against Lonoke County District judge.

• Last story time in Ward – Final children’s program was Dec. 22 before facility is permanently closed Dec. 31.

• Judge rules candidates can go on ballot – Court tells Lonoke County clerk to qualify opponent and constable hopeful.

• Small pay raises for Jacksonville – City workers to get 2 percent increase in 2016 as city dips into reserves.

• Road funds running out, mayor says – Cabot Mayor Bill Cypert tells council that residents should call congressmen.

• Task force will submit highway plans – Details of proposed road funding will be announced in report before the end of the year.

• Veterans cemetery need wreaths – Woman from Beebe leads drive to honor fallen with decorations.

• Doctor explains away concerns – State Medical Board questions North Metro Medical Center’s chief doctor over possible alcohol violation and improper blood procedure.

• ASU-Beebe hires Karla Fisher as chancellor – Coming in from Kansas, she will succeed longtime campus leader Eugene McKay.

• Formula for state funding to stay – Feared cuts to city and county road funds now appear unlikely.

• New high school plans submitted – Architect shares ideas for a state-of-the-art facility to replace a dilapidated Jacksonville campus.

• Chickens in backyards – Lonoke will now let people raise these fowls as part of a growing trend.

• Sherwood sees library opening middle of 2017 – Construction of multi-million facility set to start soon off Hwy. 107.

• Alleged killer of toddler in court – Details of boy’s murder emerges as defendant faces judge.

• District upbeat as PCSSD struggles – Jacksonville moves ahead as state keeps reins on county schools.

• Cabot’s budget at $11.6 million for 2016 – Aldermen approved spending plan just before Christmas.

• Sidewalk grant for Ward is $220,000 – City council also approves purchase of locators for patrol cars, which will aid in faster responses.

• Airmen’s kids go to the North Pole – About 50 children of National Guard members went on special deployment to meet Santa.

• Weird weather hits – From record high temperatures the day after Christmas to deluge of rain, flooding, high winds and a 30-dgree drop in temperature.

TOP STORY >> Flood cleanup underway

Leader staff writer

Several Beebe residents living along Tori Lane in the Windwood subdivision returned to their houses Wednesday after floodwater receded.

Heavy rains earlier this week, caused water in Cypress Bayou to rise on Monday afternoon.

Beebe Fire and Rescue helped residents of five houses on Tori Lane evacuate as waters climbed towards their homes. Firefighters helped families walking through the water. Some areas were waist-deep. White County has been declared a disaster area.

The area flooded on Oct. 31, 2009, Dec. 24, 2009, and again on May 2, 2011.

Floodplain coordinator Milton McCullar said all the residents had places to go to spend Monday night. Some had returned Tuesday as the water receded.

Linda Alvis, who lives at 1016 Tori Lane, said, “It was depressing and shocking. It had happened so fast.”

Alvis has lived in her house for two years. The floodwater got on the porch but did not enter her house.

“People told me it was a flood area. The landlord said she thought it was fixed,” Alvis said.

Some residents blame the railroad for the flooding after removing several trestle bridges back in the 1980s.

“The police advised us to evacuate. We had to go to a motel for the night. It was a good thing I left. It got deep. It was amazing,” Alvis said.

James Holliday purchased his home on 1027 Tori Lane in October. Holliday said he was not aware it was in a floodplain.

His family was at the hospital on Monday awaiting the birth of their new daughter. He came home Monday evening to get things for the baby. He was there a few hours as the water crested. He could not back his truck out of the driveway. He had to wade in the water to the next road over and had a friend pick him up.

“The ditch in front fills up with water every time it rains, but has never come this close to the house. I had lakefront property. It did not get into the house. It got to the back bumper of the truck,” Holliday said.

Wednesday was the first day Holliday was able to get back to the house. He was not sure what damage had been done.

Water entered his garage, which was two feet lower than the house. The water moved a deep freezer in the garage. He said two lawnmowers and power tools in the garage were probably ruined. His barbecue grill in the yard floated three feet away and tipped over.

Kristy Peacock, a resident of 1014 Tori Lane, said the city was helpful during the flooding. Police thought it was best if their family evacuated. They stayed and did not lose electricity.

She said the flood water did not reach into their house, but they had to pull their car up. They were able to access another street on higher ground from their backyard.

“We were prepared to get out if we had to,” her husband, Lance said.

Linda Crider of 1006 Tori Lane said, “I was worried. I wasn’t sure if the water was going to stop. It was pretty scary not knowing if after you go to bed you will have to get up at 2 a.m. and decide whether to stay or abandon ship.”

McCullar reported only one house at 1031 Tori Lane had water inside and it was vacant.

The house was previously condemned by the city in 2013 after it was declared more than 50-percent substantially damaged from flooding in 2009. To comply with the city’s floodplain ordinance, once a house is declared substantially damaged it must be either elevated, relocated or demolished. The owners received $5,000 in federal funds to do any of the three actions and did neither. They wanted to rent it out or sell it to another buyer.

McCullar said most of the houses in the Windwood subdivision were built between 1998 and 2001.

“Some houses were built in a Zone A flood zone that did not have an established base flood elevation. FEMA started a preliminary study but did not finish the detailed study until 2005,” McCullar explained.

McCullar said an amended city ordinance requires the lowest floor of a house to be two feet above the base flood elevation. The area that flooded in Windwood has 220 base flood elevation. The vacant house at 1031 Tori Lane is at a 217 base flood elevation. It will have to be elevated five feet to be occupied.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

EDITORIAL >> The season for giving

Two generous gifts brightened Christmas for youngsters in the area. The Defense Department has awarded $250,000 to the Jacksonville Lighthouse charter schools to improve educational opportunities for students at K-12 school on North First Street and the middle school Flightline Academy on the air base.

“This grant will boost our continuing efforts to improve student learning through the use of research-based practices and programs designed to help our scholars to be college and career ready. Our goal is that every scholar is accepted to a four-year institution upon graduation. This is a great opportunity for our scholars to receive more support to help with that effort,” stated Lenisha Broadway, regional vice president of Lighthouse Academies.

Children of military families will benefit from the program, which puts special emphasis on teaching kids whose parents are frequently deployed overseas.

Many thanks to the Pentagon for reaching out to youngsters deserving of help. In addition to the $250,000 grant, the Air Force will help fund a new elementary school near the base if Jacksonville voters approve a 7.6-mill increase to pay for a $60 million high school and other improvements in the long-neglected district.

Gwatney Chevrolet last week gave the Jacksonville Boys and Girls Club a $15,000 Christmas gift, which will help keep the club going as city funding is expected to drop next year. The gift comes just in time since the Boys and Girls Club will lose Jacksonville Advertising and Promotion money for 2016.

The Boys and Girls Club budget for 2016 is $87,000. In 2015, the Boys and Girls Club received $9,500 from the Jacksonville Advertising and Promotion Commission and requested $30,000 for next year.

The commission collects a penny hamburger tax, but will no longer be able to support the Boys and Girls Club, the military museum and other worthy organizations since the state Constitution prohibits the “appropriation of money by municipal corporations to private corporations,” according to a recent court ruling.

The good folks at Gwatney Chevrolet said they’re happy to help. Gwatney has supported American Legion baseball for decades and helps other local groups and causes every day.

Brad West, a spokesman for Gwatney Chevrolet, said supporting the club is “a no-brainer…. It needs the community’s help.”

“Gwatney has been in business in Jacksonville since 1957 and has grown with the community,” West added. “The Boys and Girls Club started in the early 1970s at an old church building by Jacksonville Elementary. The community has been unbelievably good to Gwatney, and we wanted to support these kids.”

West belonged to the boys and club when he was a youngster and is now its vice chairman. The club is where kids can play sports, get a meal and tutoring and learn life skills and more.

Mayor Gary Fletcher said the city owns the building and is available for use for churches and groups to meet. The city cannot pay the nonprofit employees’ salaries and their benefits.

Thank you, Harold Gwatney, Jamie Cobb, Brad West for your generous support of the Jacksonville Boys and Girls Club. Here’s hoping other generous donors will give to the club and ensure its continued success.

The Boys and Girls Club also received $100 from Mark Perry with Modern Woodmen of America for being selected as a Hometown Hero by the company. A couple dozen other local companies — financial institutions, supermarkets, restaurant chains and others — could guarantee the future of the Jacksonville Boys and Girls Club.

The club had 357 registered members from ages 6 to 18 in 2015. It is open five days a week after school and on Saturdays during the club’s basketball season. In addition, the club is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. during school holiday breaks and summer.

Lonoke County is expected to get a Boys and Girls Club charter next year. Businesses and individuals there can help by contacting Natalie Cope at Renew Church in Cabot.

Give a tax-deductible gift and change a child’s life today.

TOP STORY >> Looking back on 2015

Editor’s note: This is the third in a four-part series looking back at the news that made Leader front-page headlines in 2015.

The summer of 2015 was not all about the deadly hot weather, but also about Jacksonville’s new school district, problems at North Metro and more C-130s at Little Rock Air Force Base.


• Teacher pay plan approved by board – Experienced teachers get short shrift in new salary schedule, but plan may get reviewed if more funds become available.

• Murder accomplice pleads guilty – Estranged wife sentenced to 30 years in death of real estate agent Beverly Carter.

• Former official appears in court – Ex-assessor says he’s not guilty of felony fraud, theft and other charges.

• Two awarded Purple Hearts – Capitol ceremony honors pair of heroes; one died, one survived 2009 shooting in Little Rock.

• New chief for district – With total separation a year off, interim superintendent Bobby Lester hands off reins to former state education commissioner Tony Wood.

• Delivering Afghanistan’s fourth C-130H from base – LRAFB airmen continue to advise and train Afghan troops.

• Newspaper named best in state – Leader sweeps all weeklies in number of first place ribbons, taking 11.

• LRAFB renews fleet of C-130s – Four more C-130Js coming after 24th J model arrives at base.

• hauler will spend $2 million for automated pickups – Cabot will consider renewing garbage deal with one-man trucks.

• Sinking-home trial to be heard in the fall – Builder’s sister says no one knows what’s wrong and homeowners refused the solution offered.

• Cooling centers to open in cities – Suspected cause of woman’s death in Lonoke County is the heat.

• Lonoke beefs up church patrols – Police chief tells city council that officers are visiting worship services.

• Plans go forward on plant in Ward – ADEQ gives the city an extension on sewer facility which may cost less than predicted.

• Library in Cabot prepares to open – Books are moved from old library into new $2.6 million Main Street facility.

• Big bonus in bond payoff – Savings on interest nets $102,000 for Cabot parks and recreation.

• Jacksonville sees growth, others down – Construction up 60 percent, while Cabot, Sherwood, and Lonoke slide.

• Cabot might get a Cracker Barrel, shopping center – City renews contract with trash firm and will go to automation.

• Mayor: Library in Ward needed – Mayor Art Brooke tells city council that negotiations with library system board could bring results.

• A blazing chronicle – Book recounts history of Jacksonville fire department from 1947 to 1970 through daily log reports.

• JPs consider 1.25 percent levy for law enforcement – Lonoke Quorum Court votes against first reading to allow more time to study the proposal.

• Hwy. 67/167 improvements in flux – Main Street to Vandenberg phase put off, work toward Cabot to start.

• Sherwood RV owners protest parking ban – A proposal placing limits on recreational vehicle parking raises ire.

• A special census planned for Austin – Mayor says higher population count will mean a $50,000 boost in state aid.


• Library closing Dec. 31 – Lonoke-Prairie County Regional Library System decides to shutter Ward facility.

• Ward is aiming at 10,000 folks – Mayor sees doubling of population with hundreds of new homes.

• Districts will share money in separation – New Jacksonville district will pay $10.8 million for PCSSD schools, but will get $15 million.

• Bonds set for several projects – Jacksonville wants to update Splash Zone and a firehouse.

• Biology teacher is best in state – Beebe High School instructor honored at Rhode Island science gathering.

• Detachment agreement approved – Superintendent Tony Wood plans to hire architects and contractors to improve Jacksonville schools.

• Panel picks Sherwood library site – Location is 21 wooded acres off East Maryland and will cost $496,000.

• Math scores must improve, teachers told – Jacksonville schools at least 10 percent below the state average.

• District passes another hurdle – State board approves detachment agreement, now in judge’s court.

• Williams says job from far from finished – Senator announces that he will seek third term.

• High teacher turnover at Jacksonville schools – About 30 percent of instructors in new district will be new; other area districts are at 6 percent.

• Judge: New district must obey orders – U.S. District Judge insists desegregation rules must be followed or he could take action.

• Kids attend one middle school – Students in Jacksonville going to old Northwood Middle School for one year.

• Base repairs water leak – Main breaks early Saturday and affects Arnold Drive Elementary students.

• Minnow farm asks senator for labor help – U.S. Sen. John Boozman visits Anderson’s farm which is short migrant workers.

• Auditor positive on city’s finances – Jacksonville property worth $1.44 billion and tax collections are up.

• 350 fewer kids in new district – Attendance for first five days at PCSSD, JNPSD show decline.

• Justices to look at boosting revenues -- Lonoke County Quorum Court committee to study options for sheriff and jail.

• City patriarch T.P. White dies – He helped Jacksonville grow during the years after WWII.

• Judge leaving bench for his upcoming trial – Courts look for a substitute for Lonoke County District Judge O’Bryan who’s charged with battery.

• Base runway takes off – Work on new $117 million 2.3 –mile tarmac will include assault landing strip and taxiways.

• Judge back on bench after arrest – Lonoke County District judge is charged with domestic battery if girlfriend, but still holding court in Ward.


• Miracle of conjoined twins – Family says boys are doing well after they were separated at the tender age of six weeks.

• Hill: Let’s get C-130s from Keesler – Congressman fights to move 10 aircraft, claims cost less at LRAFB.

• Jacksonville business initiative – Growing downtown is aim of new group to build community.

• 40 years for racial attack at bar – Parolee could be out in 10 years after couple pleads guilty in stabbing death.

• Sen. English gets GOP competitor – Popular lawmaker opposed by State Rep. Donnie Copeland for seat that covers portions of Jacksonville and Sherwood.

• Cabot ready for $5.2 million remodel –City officials break ground on project to expand aging facility.

• Colonel: Guards will get medals –Ceremony set for airmen whose quick action pervaded a potential massacre at LRAFB.

• Doomed inmate will die Dec. 14 – Williams was convicted in the 1994 killing of a Jacksonville woman.

• Hospital exodus continues – More key staff members quit after Joe Farrer resignation as interim CEO.

• Board elected for new district in Jacksonville – McDonald, Dornblaser, Moore chosen for new JNPSD school board.

• Legislators organize to push area’s needs – Jacksonville, Sherwood, Cabot lawmakers making a difference to support growth north of the river.

• Base always on missions, target same – Commander says LRAFB is a role model for others to emulate.

• Liquor drive to get reboot – Jacksonville group meets to develop downtown revitalization.

• Scholars program is phased out – The special academic track could cost the Jacksonville district $500,000.

• Lonoke could allow backyard chickens – City council worried that approval opens gate to other animals.

• Officials don’t want cuts for county roads – judges angry that state plan would raise $194 million for highways, but cut funding for other roadwork.

• North Metro doctor says he’s sober – Hospital’s Chief Medical Officer says he’s under voluntary monitoring to verify that he’s not drinking.

• Pedestrian safety urged in Cabot – Couple tells city council that crosswalks are needed on Main Street to save lives.

• District planning new high school for 2019 – Jacksonville seeks public input at October meeting on design and requirements.

• Worker charged in arson – Walmart associate arrested for allegedly starting store fire.

• Church celebrates 165 years – First united Methodist is Jacksonville’s oldest congregation.

• Ill talk sickens hospital owner – Allegiance CEO says change to keep hospital viable is upsetting to some.

• Pipeline could bisect areas of Indian march – Planned fuel supply line from Searcy to Little will cut across Cabot land that was part of the Trail of Tears.

• Different site for library selected – After some residents complain Sherwood picks Hwy. 107 acreage instead of site off Maryland Avenue.

TOP STORY >> Push starts for district’s millage hike

 Leader staff writer

Jacksonville Education Corps will kick off the campaign in support of the upcoming millage election at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the community center. The meeting will be open to the public.

Renderings of the new high school will be unveiled for the first time.

If Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District patrons pass a 7.6-mill increase on Feb. 9 to build a new $60 million high school and fund other capital projects, they’ll be paying that rate on houses and personal property, such as cars and boats. Business owners will also pay it for equipment that is taxed.

For the owner of a $100,000 home, the proposed hike would cost another $152 a year.

Millage is not based on appraised or fair market values, but on assessed values. The assessed value of a house or personal property is 20 percent of what the house or personal property is worth.

An increase of 7.6 mills equates to $76 for every $10,000 in assessed value, or 76 cents for every $100 in assessed value.

The Kelly Blue Book website reported on Sept. 1 that the average transaction price for a new car was $33,543. Keep in mind that, once driven off the lot, a new car’s value typically depreciates to an amount lower than its purchase price.

But here’s how the millage formula works using that purchase price value:

• Multiply $33,543 by 0.2 to get the 20 percent figure. The result is the car’s assessed value of about $6,709.

• To make things easier, round the assessed value to the nearest amount divisible by $100. In this case, that’s $6,700.

• Now, divide that by $100. The result is 67.

• Multiply the 67 by 76 cents. The result of that final calculation is the approximate cost, $50.92, of the millage increase.

So, the owner of a car worth $33,543 would pay about $50 more every year if voters approve the 7.6-mill hike.

To find out how much more you would pay if voters pass this measure, replace the $33,543 with the value of your own car/boat/other property. Or skip the first step if you’ve already had property assessed and know what that value is.

The deadline to have property assessed without a penalty added in May 31 of each year. After May 31, the penalty increases the assessed value. and that makes your personal property tax bill higher.

The special election on the millage increase is set for 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 9.

Registration deadlines are Jan. 10 for new and out-of-state voters or Feb. 5 for those transferring their information from another county.

Early voting will be 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 2 through Monday, Feb. 8 at the Pulaski County Regional Building, 501 W. Markham St. in Little Rock.

Polling sites will not be open over that weekend.

Early voting will also be 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 2 through Friday, Feb. 5 at the Jacksonville Community Center, 5 Municipal Drive.

On Election Day, polls will be open at the following locations:

• Bayou Meto Baptist Church, 26200 Hwy. 107 (for Precincts 26 and 28);

• McArthur Assembly of God Church, 3501 John Harden Drive (for Precinct 27);

• Jacksonville Community Center (for Precincts 29, 30, 32, 33 and 44);

• St. Jude the Apostle Catholic Church, 2403 McArthur Drive (for Precinct 34);

• St. Stephens Episcopal Church, 2413 Northeaster Ave. (for Precinct 35);

• First Presbyterian Church, 1208 W. Main St. (for Precinct 36);

• First Baptist Church, 401 N. First St. (for Precinct 37);

• Jacksonville Senior Center, 100 Victory Circle (for Precincts 38 and 45); and

• Berea Baptist Church, 104 E. Valentine Road (for Precincts 46, 47 and 48).

The last on the list is the designated polling place for JNPSD voters living in Lonoke County.

Also, the increase would bring the total school tax levied to 48.3 mills if voters approve it.

TOP STORIES >> Motorists rescued after storm

Leader staff writer

The two-day storm that pushed through the state with Winter Storm Goliath led to several water rescues in the area, a boat being used in Dupree Park in Jacksonville and part of Hwy. 67/167 being closed.

Saturday’s weather set an all-time record high for any December date on record, with the mercury hitting 81 degrees. But by the time the winter rain, wind and thunder storm ended Tuesday morning, the highs had settled in at about 52 degrees and are expected to remain there into the new year.

The rain dropped 5.5 inches at Little Rock Air Force Base and about an inch more in North Little Rock, according to the National Weather Service. Many areas in Arkansas saw about 10 inches of rain.

According to Rita Schmitz with the Lonoke County Office of Emergency Management, there was a water rescue at 8 a.m. Monday at the intersection of East Schafer Road and Northcutt Road.

Lonoke and Carlisle Fire Departments responded. Lonoke Fire Chief Jimmy Wal-lace said one of the local farmers had gotten to the woman who was on top of her car before the fire departments arrived. She was not injured.

On Tuesday morning, there were two separate water rescues on Kerr Road.

The downpour caused the state Highway Department to close one southbound lane on Hwy. 67/167 near Coffelt Crossing between Jacksonville and Cabot early Monday.

Jacksonville closed John Harden Drive in the same area after a number of drivers couldn’t make it through the rising flood waters, and the fire department had to rescue two drivers.

“We had called for the boat, but were able to get to them with the big truck,” said Battalion Chief Joe Bratton. He added that police stayed in the area after the rescue warning drivers to detour. The road was blockade through Monday night.

Even though the fire department didn’t need a boat, Parks and Recreation Director Kevin House did to navigate through Dupree Park which had become one giant lake. He used the boat Monday morning to get to the soccer concession stand and secure equipment and take out supplies that might have ruined.

Lake Dupree, with the help of the rain, grew tenfold and spread its water throughout the park. “I won’t be surprised if we find fish on the ball field after the water recedes,” House said, adding that the ball field fences act as a net and traps the fish.

Besides the park and Hwy. 167, Public Works Director Jim Oakley said the only other section still blocked-off late Monday was the one-way bridge on West Main leading into Northlake Subdivision. “That always flood in heavy rains and residents have to go in and out of that subdivision through Sherwood until the bridge opens up again. He also said the railroad underpass are on Hwy. 161 was also closed for a while. “But as far as I know we’ve had no structural or houses damaged by flood water,” Oakley said.

In Cabot, there were just two area affected by the storm, according to Eddie Cook, the city’s director of operations. Main Street by the animal shelter and a section of road near Young’s Tires were closed Monday because of flooding. “Considering Hwy. 167 issues, I think we’ve done pretty well,” he said. Cook added the city has put a lot of effort and money into reducing draining issues over the past six years “and I think this shows it’s paying off.”

Lonoke had some minor flooding on Fourth Street near the courthouse, but other than that no issues were reported.

In Beebe, Milton McCullar, the city’s code enforcement officer, said there was some localized flooding and that Tori Lane was under water. “But we’ve had no flooding of houses or businesses that I’m aware off.:

He was concerned if the rains continued there might be some flooding in the Lynnwood-Meadows Subdivision. “We had problems there in 2011 and 2009, but so far it looks good,” he said.

National Weather Service officials said the storm spawned at lest two EF-1 tornadoes in the state – one near Hampton and one near Bearden, both in the southeastern section of Arkansas. There was damage, but no injuries or deaths were reported.

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.

SPORT STORY >> Lady Bison earn rout of Stuttgart

Leader sportswriter

The Carlisle girls had little trouble with Class 4A Stuttgart in the opening round of the annual Goldfish Classic, as the Lady Bison cruised to a 53-25 victory over the Lady Ricebirds on Monday at the Gina Cox Center in Lonoke.

Carlisle opened the game with full-court pressure, and it was highly effective from the start. The Lady Bison forced a number of turnovers and that aided in the Lady Bison jumping out to an 11-1 lead.

The game’s first double-digit lead came on an Arius McClain steal on Stuttgart’s end of the court. McClain then dribbled the length of the floor for an easy layup, which forced a Stuttgart timeout with 3:43 to go in the opening quarter.

“We use the press, not just to get steals, but we use the press to try and wear people down and tire them down,” said Carlisle coach Jonathan Buffalo. “At the end of the game, you look out there and they (Stuttgart) were about holding their shorts.

“It’s a good win. It’s actually our first nonconference win. It was balanced scoring, they played hard and it was a good effort for right out of the gate since we haven’t done anything in a week.”

The Lady Bison carried a nine-point lead into the second quarter, leading 16-7. Three seconds into the second quarter, Carlisle’s lead went back to double digits on a Kylie Warren 3-pointer, which made the score 19-7.

Warren led all scorers with 19 points Monday, but junior guard Nikita Harper had as big of an impact as anyone in the second quarter. She scored eight of her 11 points in that eight-minute span, including two 3-pointers.

Her first three came at the 6:38 mark of the second period, and the second gave the Lady Bison a 25-13 lead with 5:25 left till halftime. Harper added a midrange jumper near the four-minute mark that put the Lady Bison up 27-13, and another three by Warren made it 35-13. At halftime, Carlisle led 37-14.

Warren scored the first five points of the second half. She made a three from the top of the key 31 seconds into the third quarter, and sank a contested layup on the following Carlisle possession, which made the score 42-14.

Carlisle’s lead reached 30-plus, 47-16, on a fast-break layup by Blakely Ellis with 4:40 left in the third. That score was set up by a Kayla Golleher steal and dish up court to the open Ellis.

The Lady Bison held their largest lead, 52-19, at the midway point of the third quarter. That score was set on another Harper three, with Golleher earning the assist.

The third quarter ended with the score 53-23. That margin was set on a Warren free throw with about 20 seconds remaining.

Carlisle’s 30-point lead at the start of the fourth quarter invoked the continuous clock sportsmanship rule the rest of the game. Only one basket was scored in the fourth quarter.

Stuttgart leading scorer Keionna Jackson got a putback after a missed free throw early in the final period. With the game well in hand, Carlisle’s starters sat the entirety of the fourth quarter.

Through the first three periods, when Carlisle’s starters were on the floor, the Lady Bison made 17 of 50 shot attempts for 34 percent. Stuttgart made 7 of 41 shots in the first three quarters for 17 percent.

Warren added nine rebounds, four steals, an assist and a block to go with her 19 points. Harper added four rebounds and two steals, and NicQuira Burnett added seven points and nine boards for the Lady Bison.

Jackson led Stuttgart with 18 points and a game-high 13 rebounds.

Carlisle now has seven wins on the season, including a perfect 6-0 record in 2A-6 Conference play. The Goldfish Classic ends today in Lonoke. Look for details of the rest of the tournament in Saturday’s edition of The Leader.

SPORT STORY >> Bielema says NFL will note abilities of K-Rich

Special to The Leader

FAYETTEVILLE – Attending the Brandon Burlsworth Award luncheon earlier this month prompted a thought.

Might the Arkansas Razorbacks have a 2016 candidate for the award named for their greatest football walk-on?

Arkansas third-year sophomore defensive back Kevin Richardson, of Jacksonville, began his Razorbacks career walking on and redshirting in 2013 under Bret Bielema just like Burlsworth did in 1994 under Danny Ford. He was also a Burls Kid Award recipient as a senior at JHS.

Much like Burlsworth climbed the ladder first as a backup guard in 1995, Richardson lettered in 2013, playing some in every game on special teams and spare defensive back, making eight tackles.

Look at him now. Placed on scholarship, as of course Burlsworth was, Richardson not only has played every game all over the secondary and special teams, earning 39 tackles, an interception and three pass breakups for the 7-5 Razorbacks as they enter the Liberty Bowl in Memphis against the Kansas State on Saturday, but the kinesiology major has started the last four games at nickel back.

Bielema, Jennings and defensive coordinator Robb Smith say. Richardson has helped everywhere they have needed him in the secondary and they have needed him everywhere.

“I think Robb said at the coaches’ awards that he was the only DB that literally played all five positions on the field,” Bielema said.

That versatility aptitude and attitude even the NFL notices, Bielema said.

“His intelligence, his football I.Q... he’s got to gain a little bit of weight but he is a guy if he keeps progressing the way he is, he will definitely have a chance to play football beyond here,” Bielema said. “He is a really, really good football player.”

The late Brandon Burlsworth, originally a Razorback out of Harrison in 1994, earned All-American both athletically and academically in 1998. His award, won this year by Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield, honors for outstanding performance and character the nation’s outstanding college football player who began his career as a walk-on.

About the only difference upon their Arkansas arrivals, Burlsworth came hugely overweight and had to be slimmed down while Richardson entered like a 6-0 welterweight and still looks slight even eating his way up to a listed 175 pounds.

“He is probably the lightest one in the group but he brings the most punch to the table,” Arkansas second-year defensive backfield coach Clay Jennings said. “We talk about mental and physical toughness. I think he epitomized that.”

Has Richardson surprised him?

“Yes he has,” Jennings said. “But the one thing that Kevin brings to the table every day is a blue-collar work ethic. We talk about playing with a fanatical effort and he does it.”
Even after their five SEC victories, Bielema and the Razorbacks didn’t seem to exceed their joy of Aug. 9 when Bielema announced Richardson placed on scholarship.

“We announced K-Rich was on scholarship about a half hour ago and the place went up for grabs,” Bielema told media on that Aug. 9 coinciding with Arkansas’ annual preseason media day.

Jennings that day likened it to more joyous hallelujahs than a Sunday revival.

“I have never seen so many guys jump up and down,” Jennings said. “You would thought they were in church today when Coach announced it. All those guys are excited for Kevin. I am excited for Kevin.”

Jennings explained why.

“This guy comes to work every day with his lunch bucket,” Jennings said. “He doesn’t shy away from any work. Anything anybody else does he wants to do 10 times more. He is what being an Arkansas Razorback is all about. He has got Razorback blood in his family. All of his brothers and sisters have gone to school here, too so we are happy he is going to be on scholarship.”

Richardson that Aug. 9 called the scholarship, “something I have dreamed of that gets a lot of weight off my parents shoulders and now I have it front of my eyes.”

“That doesn’t stop the grind,” Richardson added. “I am going to work like I still don’t have it.”

For now Richardson takes it one dream at a time.

The scholarship and starting are dreams achieved and this Liberty Bowl invite, achieved overcoming a 2-4 start, is Richardson’s next step for a team dream in 2016. “We didn’t play how wanted to in some games,” Richardson said of the team’s struggling start. “The overall thing was to get a postseason game and we’re here. Hopefully this can give us a good boost into next season and hopefully get into the playoff. That’s everybody’s goal in college football.”

SPORT STORY >> Badger defense stifles Eagles

Leader sports editor

The Beebe boys’ basketball team got a big win Monday in the first round of its own Badger Christmas Classic, beating former conference rival Greene County Tech 58-39 at Badger Arena. The Badgers controlled the action from start to finish with defense, and got a big lift offensively from senior guard Bryson Bell, who finished with a game-high 18 points.

“Bryson had a great game and shot the ball really well,” said Beebe coach Ryan Marshall. “But I thought our other guys did a great job of breaking their three-quarter press and finding him for those shots. But no doubt he was big for us. We went into halftime up about 14, and he was the difference.”

Bell hit five of his six 3-pointers in the first half, including four in a row in the second quarter. His first shot came with 1:40 left in the first quarter and gave the Badgers a 10-2 lead. Tech got two free throws but neither team was able to get another basket until the final buzzer. The Badgers held for the last shot but the offense broke down.

Point guard Grant Brown ended up with a loose ball about 28 feet from the basket as the clock was running down, and he hit the long-range jumper to give Beebe a 13-4 lead at the end of the first quarter.

The Badgers took their first double-digit lead with three minutes left in the first half when junior forward Brad Worthington scored on a running layup. GCT’s Cody Dortch answered quickly at the other end, and that’s when Bell caught fire. He hit a shot from left corner to make it 28-17 with two minutes remaining. Just 20 seconds later after a steal by Brown, Bell hit another shot from the same spot to put the Badgers up by 14. After Tech (1-7) scored again, Bell added one more to send the Badgers into halftime with a 34-19 lead.

Beebe went 5 for 6 from 3-point range in the first half, and drew a spy for most of the second half. The Eagles held him without a shot attempt in the third quarter, but sophomore point guard DeAundre Butler picked up the slack in a different way. Butler repeatedly got to the rim for seven points early in the third period. His running floater with 5:47 left in the third put the Badgers up 40-19.

Tech switched to full court man defense and slowed down Beebe’s offense, but the Eagles could never get their own offense going against Beebe’s zone defense.

“We played more zone tonight than we had been and I thought we played pretty well,” Marshall said. “We started the season playing good defense, but the last few games we’ve struggled. So we tried some different things tonight with our lineup and with what we were trying to do.”

The Badgers (2-6) forced 23 turnovers and committed just 13, but they were outrebounded 29-16 and only made 9 of 21 free-throw attempts.

“Our free-throw shooting has been inconsistent all year and we need to clean that up,” Marshall said. “That’s a lot of points we left out there on that line.”

Bell was the only Badger in double figures, but nine different Beebe players scored. Butler and Worthington each finished with nine points while K.J. O’Neill eight.

Beebe’s leading scorer, Austin Moore, who averages nearly 20 points per game, didn’t start Monday’s game, played very few minutes before fouling out with just two points.

“I wouldn’t say we won this game without him,” Marshall said. “He’s an important presence for us when he’s out there. He’s just hasn’t been moving his feet well on defense and fouling too much. But he’s still a huge part of what we do and he’s going to be big for us this year. “As far as the win, I’d say it was very much needed. That’s the first 5A team we’ve beat in about a year and a half. So hopefully we’re making some progress and can get some confidence from this.”