Wednesday, January 20, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Jackrabbits demolish eStem Mets

Leader sports editor

The Lonoke basketball teams got mixed results Friday night at eStem Charter School. The boys stopped a two-game skid with a dominant 60-32 victory while the girls lost for the second time in a row, dropping a 46-41 decision to the Mets. Last Tuesday, Lonoke suffered a 68-48 loss to No. 1 ranked and undefeated Riverview.

The boys controlled the action in their game from beginning to end. The Jackrabbits were hot from the floor early, and that’s always a big plus for a streaky shooting team like Lonoke.

“We hit shots early,” said Lonoke coach Dean Campbell. “When we come right out and shoot well, it’s also a big boost to our defensive energy. Justin Meadows was able to get out defensively and get a couple deflections, get in transition and get a couple dunks. That all really energized us from the outset and we were able to maintain it for the most part. I felt like Friday night was one of our best efforts for a complete game as far as getting everyone involved.”

Bryson Jackson hit four 3-pointers in the first half, two in each quarter. He and Meadows led Lonoke with 13 points each, while Kylan Branscomb scored 10 for the Jackrabbits.

Lonoke led eStem (11-9, 3-5) 23-7 at the end of the first quarter and added to that lead every period.

The win comes on the heels of back-to-back losses to CAC and Riverview. The Raiders are undefeated in conference play, putting a conference title out of reach for the Jackrabbits (10-8, 3-6). But Campbell still thinks his team is one capable of making some noise in the postseason if it continues to improve and peaks at the right time.

“We have to sort out a couple of things defensively,” Campbell said. “If we could make a run here, we could easily get to 8-8 and that will put us in a good seeding for district. But for us right now, it’s one game at a time. That’s the approach we’re going to have to take because sitting here 3-6 doesn’t give us much leeway.”

The Lady Jackrabbits (12-6, 5-4) fell behind early, but bounced back to outscore eStem 14-5 in the second quarter and take a 20-16 lead into halftime. That lead was down to 31-30 by the end of the third quarter, and eStem’s Bucknell signee Gia Hayes led a 16-10 fourth quarter to give the Lady Mets (19-5, 6-2) the victory.

“We’re so close, man, we’re so close,” said Lonoke girls’ coach Nathan Morris. “You hate to say that it’s still youth this time of year, but the fact of the matter is, we’re doing some things that happened when you’re playing a lot of freshmen and sophomores. And we’re still overcoming that. Everybody is disappointed in getting beat, but we knew there would be games we’d lose that we shouldn’t. And we knew we would win games we may not be expected to win. The one thing I like about this team above everything else is this. We have had the game where we just came out flat and didn’t have a good effort. We’ve gone toe-to-toe with good teams and just come up short at times.”

Hayes led all scorers with 18 points, but Morris thought sophomore guard Mariah Adams did the most damage.

She’s a 5-foot-10 guard who was able to get inside and steadily hurt us with some floaters right when they needed them,” Morris said of Adams. “Gia Hayes is a great player, but I thought we did a pretty good job on her, keeping her to 18. But they’ve got other weapons and those girls came through for them.”

Adams finished with 14 points.

Jarrelyn McCall led Lonoke with 14 points while Ashlyn Allen and Keiunna Walker scored nine apiece.