Friday, January 08, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Lonoke gets big sweep of Newport

Leader sports editor

The Lonoke basketball teams got an easy sweep of the Newport Greyhounds Tuesday night in Jackson County. Both teams led by 30 at the end of the third quarter to invoke the sportsmanship rule in the first game back in 4A-2 Conference play after the holiday break. The Lonoke boys cruised to a 69-32 victory while the girls won 57-20.

“Early night for a four-game road trip,” said Lonoke athletic director and girls’ basketball coach Nathan Morris. “The junior high teams won pretty easy. The senior girls and senior boys both got the clock running in the fourth. We all got home a little earlier than usual, so that was good.”

Morris’ Lady Jackrabbits raced out to a 16-4 lead in the first quarter, largely from getting the ball inside, where senior post player Ashlyn Allen finished well around the basket.

“Ashlyn led us in scoring,” Morris said. “She had 18 and 10 in the first quarter. Our offense was good, execution was good, and Ashlyn did a good job of finishing and making sure all that execution wasn’t for nothing.”

Lonoke (11-4, 4-2) had its best offensive quarter of the game in the third, scoring 20 points and taking a 53-19 lead into the final frame.

Senior Jarrelyn McCall and sophomore Keiunna Walker finished with 17 points each.

“That’s 52 of our 57 points from just those three,” Morris said. “So they had good games offensively. We’re going to need them to keep having good games because we’re about to hit a tough stretch. We have CAC, Riverview, eStem and Heber all coming up, so this little stretch of easy games is over and we’re going to have to get ready to pick it up.”

The boys also had a big lead at halftime, and also put the game away in the third period. But it wasn’t just the third quarter that pleased boys’ coach Dean Campbell.

“For the second game in a row I thought we came out and put four really good quarters together,” said Campbell. “We played hard the whole time and that makes a world of difference. In a lot of early games we wouldn’t play hard until we were backed into a corner and then try to pull it out. Hopefully we’ve got it figured out enough that, yea, we’re talented, but we’re not talented enough to turn it on and off like that. We have to give 100 percent the whole time.”

Lonoke’s pressure defense created several transition dunks and layups in the third quarter. Kylan Branscomb and Justin Meadows each got two breakaway dunks, which in turn helped ignite the defensive intensity. The Jackrabbits also had bragging rights on the line, playing against their former assistant coach Heath Swinney for the first time. Swinney is now the head coach of the Greyhounds.

“All those guys had coach Swinney as their junior high coach,” Campbell said. “They were excited to get to see him, and they wanted to beat him. It was a good overall game for our guys to get conference started back.”

Branscomb and Meadows also led the team in scoring with 14 points apiece. Bryson Jackson added 11 for the Jackrabbits. The key statistic for Campbell, however, was points off turnovers. Lonoke (9-7, 2-4) forced 19 turnovers and scored 31 points on the ensuing possessions after turnover.

“That’s almost half our point total coming off turnovers,” Campbell said. “So we not only forced them, but we capitalized when we got them, and that’s huge for us.”

Lonoke hosted CAC last night after Leader deadlines. Look for details of those games in Wednesday’s Leader. The Jackrabbits and Lady Rabbits will travel to Riverview on Tuesday.