Friday, February 12, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> LHS ladies overcome slow start for victory

Leader sportswriter

The Lonoke girls picked up another 4A-2 Conference victory Tuesday night at home, and got it in relatively easy fashion, as the Lady Jackrabbits cruised to a 67-42 win over Newport.

Despite the lopsided win, Lonoke wasn’t so sharp out of the gate. Newport led 5-1 at the start of the game on a corner three by Yasmine Friar and a pair of free throws by teammate Janel Hatcher.

Lonoke scored the next four points to tie the game at 5-5, but didn’t take its first lead until 8-7 on a 3-pointer by Jarrelyn McCall with 3:33 left to play in the first quarter.

Lonoke’s full-court pressure forced turnovers and put a stop to the Lady Greyhounds’ scoring the rest of the quarter, as the Lady Jackrabbits closed the opening quarter with a 9-0 run to lead 17-7 at the end of one.

Newport (2-18, 1-13) scored the first three points of the second quarter on a basket by Hatcher and a free throw by Kiazah Moreland, but by the 6:35 mark of the quarter, Lonoke (17-7, 10-5) got its lead back to double digits on a basket and free throw by sophomore scorer Keiunna Walker.

The Lady Greyhounds scored the next bucket to make it an eight-point game at 20-12, but a corner three by McCall made it 23-12 with 4:12 left in the half. Lonoke’s largest lead of the quarter was 25-12, but the hosts still led by double digits at halftime, with the score 27-17.

Lonoke maintained its double-digit lead throughout the second half, furthering it to 14 by the end of the third quarter. With five minutes left in the third, Mickenzie Williams made a pair of free throws that upped the Lady Rabbits’ lead to 33-21, and McCall added the next pair of points with a short jumper off the glass with 4:23 remaining in the period.

McCall’s basket made the score 35-21, and the margin stayed at 14 on a buzzer-beating inside lay-in by senior forward Ashlyn Allen, which made the score 43-29 Lonoke at the start of the fourth.

Allen’s buzzer-beating basket was set up by McCall, who started her dribble from the top of the key and drew defenders to the middle of the lane before she made a precision pass to Allen, who was left wide open next to the goal for an easy bucket.

The Lady Rabbits steadily built on their lead as the fourth quarter progressed. Lonoke’s McCall, Williams and Kaley Woodruff combined for three-consecutive threes to further the lead to 62-40 with 3:40 left to play.

Woodruff added another 3-pointer with 2:59 remaining, which made the score 65-40, and Mia Brown scored the last points of the game on a pair of free throws with 15 seconds left.

Lonoke finished the game 25 of 64 from the floor for 39 percent. Newport also made 39 percent of its shots on 17 of 44 shooting. From the free-throw line, the Lady Rabbits made 11 of 20 attempts and the Lady Greyhounds made 8 of 10 shots from the stripe. From 3-point range, Lonoke was 6 for 23 and Newport was 2 for 9.

The hosts outrebounded the visitors 33-27 and won the turnover category 12-23.

Walker led all scorers with 24 points. McCall was the only other Lonoke player that scored in double figures and had the most complete game, finishing with 15 points, five rebounds, six assists, three steals and one block.

Allen added nine points and 10 rebounds and Williams also had nine points for Lonoke. Hatcher led Newport with 21 points and 11 rebounds.

The Lonoke girls played their final regular-season game last night at home against eStem Charter after deadlines. They’ll enter postseason play at the district tournament, which begins Monday at Southside Batesville.