Friday, December 16, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Longhorns, Razorbacks hark back to old SWC

By NATE ALLEN
Special to The Leader

FAYETTEVILLE – Everybody wants to discuss the past when dormant rivalries renew, and a still-lingering one renews today in Houston.

The 8-1 Razorbacks and the 5-4 Longhorns play each other for just the fourth time since 1991, when Arkansas departed the now defunct Southwest Conference and ended a longtime rivalry with Texas.

The game will be nationally televised by ESPNU and tip-off is at 1:30 p.m. today at the Houston Rockets’ Toyota Arena.

Though coaching Missouri during the three Arkansas vs. Texas nonconference meetings from 2008-09 through 2010-2011, Arkansas coach Mike Anderson knows the Arkansas vs. Texas rivalry firsthand. As a 17-year assistant to former Arkansas Coach Nolan Richardson, Anderson was involved in Arkansas’ last six SWC years against Texas, the last four filled with epic battles against then Texas coach Tom Penders including a NCAA Regional final in Dallas advancing Arkansas to the 1990 Final Four.

Anderson knows how much this game means to older Arkansas fans and that his players, not even alive during the Eddie Sutton vs. Abe Lemons and Richardson vs. Penders Arkansas vs. Texas apexes, can’t fully comprehend it.

“I think these kids are too young when you talk about the rivalry in itself,” Anderson said. “But knowing the history here, I think for our fans without doubt it’s a big game.”

The Razorbacks players know it’s a big game to prove they are more than merely the homebody Hogs. The one time this season that they ventured out of Walton Arena, Minnesota waxed them 85-71 on Nov. 22 in Minneapolis. The result was worse than the final score. Arkansas committed a season-high 21 turnovers to Minnesota’s 14 and got outscored 27-3 on 3-pointers and produced but eight assists.

“I want to see if we have learned something from it,” Anderson said.

He cited what they should have learned.

“One of the things we know about going on the road is you have got to be able to shoot the ball,” Anderson said. “You have to put the ball in the hole. You know you have got to defend and you can’t turn the ball over. In that game we turned it over. We had eight assists (Arkansas averages 18.2 assists per game) so we didn’t share the basketball and we didn’t shoot the ball well. They got to the free throw line probably more than we did.”

All the woes left too many of Anderson’s men hurriedly trying to put it back together by themselves again.

“We got down and I really thought we kind of panicked,” Anderson said. “Individuals tried to bring us back. We tried to make the 8-point play. And it just dug a hole that kept getting deeper and deeper. And so I think from that standpoint we learned that hopefully when adversity comes that we kind of bond together. That’s what I want to see in play when we play against Texas.”

The 5-4 record shows it hasn’t always gone Texas’ way.

At their Erwin Center in Austin, the Longhorns are 4-1, losing by 11 to the Texas-Arlington team that Arkansas edged by four in Fayetteville. Texas is winless on the road, losing by only three points at Michigan but blasted by Northwestern and Colorado in Brooklyn, N.Y., a more neutral site than Saturday’s neutral Arkansas vs. Texas neutral site given Austin’s proximity to Houston.

Second-year Texas Coach Shaka Smart, about the hottest coach in the country with five NCAA Tournaments including one Final Four, in six years at Virginia Commonwealth, discovered even at Texas it takes time.

Much like Anderson’s 2015-2016 Razorbacks, reeling 16-16 trying to rebuild from losing too many key parts to a 27-9 team from 2014-2015, Smart’s current team was hit hard by graduation and players turning pro early off last season’s 20-13 first-round NCAA Tourney squad.

The Longhorns are still a force, only young. They start two freshmen, 6-11 Jarrett Allen averaging 9.3 points and 6.3 rebounds, and freshman guard Andrew Jones, averaging 14.0 and are led by 6-7 swingman Tevin Mack, 15.0 points and 4.3 rebounds, and sophomore guard Kerwin Roach, 11.3 scoring average.

Consistently using its bench, Arkansas has played its best ball four games into December but that’s all been in the comfort of home.

STARTING LINEUPS

ARKANSAS (8-1)

F-Dustin Thomas 6-8 Jr. 8.1 pts. 4.2 rebs

C-Moses Kingsley 6-10 Sr. 11.1 8.2

G-Jaylen Barford 6-3 Jr. 10.8 2.2

G-Daryl Macon 6-3 Jr. 11.6 2.9

G-Manuale Watkins 6-3 Sr. 6.4 4.2

TEXAS (5-4)

F-Shaquille Cleare 6-8 Sr. 11.3 pts. 6.rebs.

F-Jarrett Allen 6-11 Fr. 9.3 6.3

G-Kerwin Roach 6-4 So. 11.3 3.9

G-Andrew Jones 6-4 Fr. 8.3 3.7

G-Tevin Mack 6-7 So. 15.0 9.3

SPORTS STORY >> Defense leads to Beebe win

By RAY BENTON 
Leader sports editor

The Lady Badgers and Lady Jackrabbits combined for just five baskets the entire second half. Beebe only had two, but it was just enough as the home team held on for a 32-31 victory Tuesday at Badger Arena.

With the score 32-21, Beebe’s Libbie Hill missed the front end of a one-and-one trip to the line, and Lonoke’s Kennedy White got the rebound. Lonoke worked the ball around until sophomore Kaley Woodruff got a wide-open shot from the left corner that bounced off the back of the rim at the buzzer.

Lonoke coach Heath Swiney was pleased with how his team defended, and liked the execution at the end of the game.

“I told Kaley to never be afraid to take that shot any day of the week,” said Swiney. “It didn’t fall for us this time, but we did execute and got a good shot to try and win it.

“And I told all of them; ‘Here’s what you did tonight. You did not let what was happening offensively affect what you were doing defensively.’ These girls came to Beebe, which is a solid 5A state tournament team, and had a chance to win all the way down to the last second. And to be honest, I thought it was good when it left her hand. I really thought it was going in. It just didn’t happen for us this time.”

Beebe coach Greg Richey opened his comments by praising Lonoke, but was also very pleased with how his team played defense while the offense struggled.

“Our defense is keeping us in games right now,” Richey said. We’re struggling a little bit offensively this past week or so, but I thought Lonoke was the best defensive team we’ve played all year. They’ve got good athletes and they stayed disciplined defensively tonight. They just played outstanding defense.

“And that meant that we had to as well, and we did that. The kids have bought into playing defense and really playing hard. If we don’t defend, we get beat 15 tonight. We’d been averaging 47 points per game up until these last three, but we’ve been doing those things defensively that have kept us close and we’ve managed to win two of them.”

The statistics were as even as the final score. The two teams combined for just 56 total shot attempts, and both teams went 9 of 28 from the floor. Beebe made five of its nine baskets in the first quarter.

Lonoke (6-3) was 6 of 19 from 2-point range and 3 of 9 from outside. Beebe was 7 of 20 from inside the arc and 2 of 8 from outside. That works out to a one-point advantage for Lonoke, but the Lady Jackrabbits went just 10 of 19 from the free-throw line while Beebe made 12 of 17. Lonoke missed five-consecutive free throws in the fourth quarter.

“We left a lot of points out there on the free-throw line,” Swiney said. “We shoot them every day in practice, and we shoot them after we’ve run a lot. We shoot them when we’re tired. So I don’t know that there’s any excuse for that. We just have to do better.”

Beebe held the biggest lead of the game in the first half. Hill’s short jumper with seven minutes left in the second quarter capped a 10-1 Beebe run and gave the Lady Badgers a 15-8 lead.

It turned out to be Beebe’s only basket of the quarter as the Lady Jackrabbits began to cut into that margin. Lonoke finally tied the game at 17-17 with 3:04 left in the first half, but only managed one free throw the rest of the period while Beebe made four, leaving the Lady Badgers (7-3) with a 22-18 lead at intermission.

Offense was almost nil for both teams in the third quarter. Beebe’s only points came with 3:52 to play when Marianna Richey got a steal and a layup.

Despite it being more than 11 minutes between baskets for Beebe, Richey’s layup put the home team back up by four at 24-20. Lonoke’s Keiunna Walker scored on a layup with a minute left in the third to make it 24-22, and that’s how it stayed until the fourth quarter.

In the final frame, Beebe went 5 for 7 from the free-throw line while Lonoke went 7 of 12.

Hill led Beebe with 15 points while Richey finished with 12. Walker led all scorers with 16 points.

SPORTS STORY >> Badgers down Jackrabbits

By RAY BENTON 
Leader sports editor

A first half of back-and-forth basketball turned into a one-sided affair in the second half as the Beebe Badgers defeated the Lonoke Jackrabbits 48-40 in a rekindling of an old rivalry. It had been four years since the Badgers and Jackrabbits met on the hardwood, and Tuesday’s matchup at Badger Arena was an exciting one.

“It was a hard-fought win,” said Beebe coach Ryan Marshall. “We had to earn it. We got down seven with three minutes to go in the third. We got some defensive stops and finally started getting some easy baskets.”

The game featured six lead changes in the first quarter alone, and two more in the second period, one at the very beginning and one at the end of the half.

Beebe (3-5) led 9-8 at the end of the first quarter after point guard D’Andre Butler penetrated the Jackrabbit defense for a layup before the buzzer. Lonoke scored first in the second period, but the Badgers went on an 8-0 run to open up a 17-10 lead.

It started with a 17-foot jumper by Butler with 6:29 left in the half. Landon Davis then hit another long two-pointer for a 13-10 Beebe lead. E.J. Smith then got a steal and passed to Butler for a transition layup, and Brad Worthington capped the run with a putback of a Butler miss with 4:03 left in the quarter.

Lonoke (3-6) came right back. Tyrique Jackson and Isaac Toney hit back-to-back shots to make it 17-14. Haven Hunter then went baseline for a layup to cut Beebe’s margin to one with 2:05 left on the clock.

Tyler Long then scored four-straight for Beebe, but Lonoke responded with two free throws by Toney, and a 3-pointer by Tyrique Jackson that tied the game at 21-21 with 1:20 left in the quarter.

After a defensive stop by Lonoke, Toney went to the line again and made both free throws to give the Jackrabbits’ their first lead since the first shot of the second quarter.

Beebe showed some nifty interior passing when Smith hit Grant Jackson from box-to-box for a tying layup with 22 seconds left in the half. Lonoke turned it over with 10 seconds to go, but Beebe failed to get a shot before time expired, leaving the game tied at the break.

Beebe reclaimed the lead with the first bucket of the third quarter, but Lonoke scored back-to-back buckets for the 10th lead change of the game and a 27-25 lead.

Marshall called timeout and the Badgers came out of the break in a 2-1-2 zone. It didn’t work well initially. Tyrique Jackson made a 3-pointer seconds after play resumed for a 30-25 Lonoke lead. After a failed possession by the Badgers, Kylon Branscomb went to the line. His two free throws capped a 9-0 run and gave Lonoke its biggest lead of the game at 32-25.

The Badgers scored the next 13 points, and never trailed again.

Davis, Butler and K.J. O’Neill scored the last six points of the third quarter to pull the Badgers to within one point.

Steele Harris scored his first basket 15 seconds into the final period. It was the 11th and final lead change of the game.

A minute later, O’Neill got back to the rim for a 35-32 Beebe lead, and Harris made one of two at the foul line with 5:34 to go. After another fruitless possession by Lonoke, Worthington put back an O’Neill miss to make it 38-32 with 4:40 remaining.

With 4:13 left, Haven Hunter was fouled as he scored the Jackrabbits’ first field goal since the 4:04 mark of the third quarter. He missed the free throw and Branscomb was called for a foul on the rebound. That sent Worthington to the line for two free throws that made it 40-34 with 4:12 left.

After a Lonoke turnover, O’Neill went baseline for a layup and a 42-34 lead. The two teams then swapped free throws. Butler’s foul shot made it 45-35, giving the Badgers’ their biggest lead and capping a 20-3 run that began with Beebe trailing 32-25 halfway through the third quarter.

Scoring 25 points in a half is not that uncommon, but holding a good team to just three points and no field goals for an entire quarter was something the head Badger made note of.

“We obviously don’t pass the eye test and we’re not very athletic,” Marshall said of his team. “I don’t know if it’s because we’ve forced them, or if they’ve taken a little pride in defending. That’s kind of been our identity and that’s what we’re going to have to do to.”

O’Neill led Beebe with 11 points, including eight in the fourth quarter.

“I thought K.J., in those last eight minutes or 10 minutes, was finally aggressive with the basketball like we need him to be,” Marshall said. “I thought Steele came in and gave us spark, too, when we were struggling a little bit in the second half.”

Worthington finished with 10 points for the Badgers while Butler added nine.

Toney led all scorers with 16 off the bench for the Jackrabbits. Tyrique Jackson scored 12.

The Badgers played at Clarksville on Friday while Lonoke hosted Episcopal on Friday and Carlisle on Saturday. Look for details for all those games in Wednesday’s edition of The Leader.

EDITORIAL >> Road work continues

The Arkansas Highway Department this week approved bids for a new interchange for Cabot and widening Hwy. 67/167 from Jacksonville to Cabot totaling about $100 million. They are part of an ambitious Hwy. 67/167 improvement project from Redmond Road in Jacksonville to Hwy. 5 in Cabot costing an estimated $200 million.

The Highway Department will spend slightly more than $25 million on the long-desired third Cabot interchange on the northern side of the city. The city is covering $10 million of that cost through funds raised through its 2013 bond issue.

The new interchange will be constructed where Hwy. 67/167 intersects with Hwy. 38. Manhattan Road and Bridge Company of Tulsa was awarded the $25.5 million contract. Construction is scheduled to begin in two to four weeks, weather permitting.

The bid calls for the project to be completed 610 work days after the contract is awarded, probably at the end of 2019.

Better roads and infrastructure are certain to bring an economic boost to the area. Cabot Mayor Bill Cypert called the latest announcement the “biggest news in decades.”

Not only will the construction be a boon to Cabot and Jacksonville, Cypert said it will open up numerous development possibilities for Cabot and surrounding communities, including new businesses and subdivisions.

“We expect the interchange to bring significant growth to the northwest sector of the city between Hwy. 67/167 and Hwy. 5 and north of Hwy. 89 as it will open up land for residential and commercial development,” the mayor said.

Cypert said that he expected the new interchange to be fully developed within 10 years like the other two city interchanges.

“This interchange is part of our long-range transportation plans,” the mayor said. He explained that once open it would take a lot of traffic off Main Street and other city streets, ma-king it easier to visit our Main Street businesses.”

The Highway Department is also spending $79 million to six-lane and resurface Hwy. 67/167 from Exit 11 (the Air Force Base exit) to Exit 16 (the Heber Springs/Cabot interchange). Weaver-Bailey Contractors, Inc. of El Paso was awarded the contract.

The James Construction Group of Baton Rouge, La., is replacing the Main Street and Redmond Road overpasses on Hwy. 67/167 for $42 million. They will be wider, with three lanes of traffic north and south.

The company is also building new approaches and ramps for the Main Street and Redmond Road overpasses as well as a new stretch of highway between them.
The widening and resurfacing will continue from Main Street to Vandenberg Boulevard for $61 million starting in two years.

This phase was to come before the widening from the air base exit to Hwy. 5, but right-of-way-issues from Main Street to Vandenberg have delayed this phase of the project.
Two lanes in each direction have been resurfaced by Chester Bross Construction of Hannibal, Mo., for $2.69 million.

Let’s hope widening of Hwy. 67/167 will continue from Cabot through Beebe, along with a Hwy. 89 improvement plan from Cabot to Mayflower that would serve as alternative to now-abandoned North Belt Loop.

Many thanks to our local legislators for making these improvements possible and funding a badly needed stimulus program for our area.

TOP STORY >> Prisoner dies in jail in Lonoke

An inmate at the Lonoke County Detention Facility was found dead in his cell at about 2:37 a.m. Friday.

James Lee Flowers, 53, of Cabot was seen lying unresponsive on the floor while guards were making routine security checks, according to a statement from the sheriff’s office.

An ambulance crew could not revive Flowers and instructed the jail staff to call the coroner.

“The death does appear to be of natural causes,” and the body was sent to the State Crime Lab for autopsy, the sheriff’s statement said. Flowers had been in jail since Tuesday for a felony probation violation

TOP STORY >> Pupils get free eye exams thanks to Lions

By JEFFREY SMITH
Leader staff writer

The Jacksonville Lions Club teamed up this week with the North Little Rock Lions Club to offer free vision screening for pre-K, elementary and middle school students at the schools in the Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District.

The North Little Rock Lions Club owns a spot vision screener, a hand-held device that can screen both eyes at the same time from three feet away.

The spot screener detects nearsightedness, farsightedness, blurred vision, unequal refractive power, eye misalignment and unequal pupil size.

“It is important to catch eye problems early. If children have trouble seeing, they will have trouble reading and it will delay their education,” North Little Rock Lions Club member Andy Miller said.

This is the first year for the Jacksonville Lions Club to offer the screenings for students. Parents had to fill out permission forms allowing the Lions Club to perform the screenings.

At Dupree Elementary School, 86 students were screened, 12 were found needing additional testing by an eye doctor.

The Jacksonville Lions Club is a volunteer group focused on eye health and vision. They offer to pay for doctor’s screenings and glasses for children and adults who qualify for assistance.

The Jacksonville Lions Club welcomes new members. It meets at noon on the first and third Wednesday each month at the Bar-B-Que Shack, 1000 S. Hwy. 161.

TOP STORY >> New chapter is beginning at Metroplan

By JOHN HOFHEIMER 
Leader senior staff writer

Like clockwork, December brings leadership changes at Metroplan, but never more than this year—at least not in 28 years.

At Wednesday’s monthly meeting, Jacksonville Mayor Gary Fletcher ended his term as president and handed the gavel over to Ward Mayor Art Brooke, although that kind of change is an annual event.

In a less common event, Metroplan executive director Jim McKenzie retired and is to be replaced by Conway Mayor Tab Townsell. Townsell, as mayor, served on the Metro-plan board of directors for more than a decade.

On top of that, deputy director Richard Magee also retires.

Magee is considered the institutional memory of Metroplan, so much so that when the planning organization’s new and meatier website is launched, the searchable archive will be referred to as the Richard Magee archive.

McKenzie said, “Richard forgot more about planning than I ever knew—if he ever forget anything at all.”

In welcoming Townsell, who needed no introduction because he was already on the board when every other board member came on, Fletcher noted that the search for a new director extended beyond the U.S. before coming back to pick someone 30 miles up the road.

Townsend has asked McKenzie to stay on part-time to advise and help on some projects like the Mid-Arkansas Water Alliance, which secures future water to Central Arkansas Water, Jacksonville, Lonoke and Cabot and 23 other water associations from Greer’s Ferry Lake and Lake Ouachita, and also help with planning for the I-30 corridor improvements, including the bridge over the Arkansas River.

The board awarded the Jack Evans Regional Leadership Awards to McKenzie and Magee. McKenzie has been executive director since July 1988 and Magee has served with Metroplan for 42 years.

McKenzie, in his final executive director’s report, noted that President-elect Dibakd Trump nominated former Labor Secretary Elaine Chou as secretary of transportation. Chou previously was Department of Transportation deputy administrator of Maritime Administration and deputy secretary of Transportation under George H.W. Bush.

“She has a reputation as a competent administrator,” McKenzie said.

He noted that a continuing resolution had been introduced to fund the federal government through April 28.

The board unanimously approved a $3 million 2017 budget.

Mayor Brooke, the new president, is the last Lonoke County/North Pulaski County group to rotate through the board as officers.

In addition to Brooke, the new board president, other officers unanimously accepted are Bryant Mayor Jill Dabbs, vice-president; Faulkner County Judge Jim Baker, secretary; and North Little Rock Mayor Joe Smith, treasurer.

Fletcher and Cabot Mayor Bill Cypert are recent past presidents. Local mayors and county judges comprise the voting members of the Metroplan board. The board presented McKenzie with an engraved mantle-worthy clock, and the staff presented him with two golf passes to play at the Tournament Players Club Sawgrass in Florida, where McKenzie will soon be visiting grandchildren.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

EDITORIAL >> Giving makes big difference

Christmas is less than two weeks away. Many people are wrapping up their holiday shopping and preparing to celebrate with family and friends, but it’s a good time to remember the less fortunate and contribute to noteworthy collection drives that make sure people in need have a merry Christmas.

Cabot Christmas for Kids will stop collecting toys on Saturday. Every year it gives new toys to children who live in the Cabot School District.

People are asked to donate new toys or make monetary donations to help buy new toys.

There are boxes at all Cabot public schools to drop off toys. Toys can also be dropped off at Centennial Bank, Fred’s, Dixie CafĂ©, and Dollar General in Cabot and Ward.

Checks can be mailed to Christmas for Kids, c/o Bill Holden, 100 Gunsmoke Drive, Austin, Ark. 72007.

Checks and toys may also be delivered to the Cabot Schools Warehouse, 310 G.P. Murrell Drive in Cabot in the Industrial Park off Hwy. 367 toward Austin.

To sponsor a family, call Terena Woodruff at 501-843-3363, ext. 1029. Families who need assistance this year with food or toys, please go to goo.gl/SvwcGF. Recipients must live in the Cabot School District area to be eligible.

To arrange for donated toys to be picked up, call Bill Holden or Rita Stewart at 501-743-3560. Toys may also be brought to any elementary school in the Cabot Public School District today through Dec. 16 or leave a message for Shelley Montoya at 501-286-8912.

It’s also a good time to make a donation to an annual collection drive for elderly patients living in the Community Living Center units at the Fort Roots VA Hospital in North Little Rock.

The annual collection drive is organized by the Jacksonville Museum of Military History and the Major Jacob Gray Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. The deadline to donate is Dec. 30.

Here’s the list of items that are needed:

Clothing: No used clothing and no dress shoes. Dire need – tennis shoes, sizes 9-14; long and short sleeve, white and colored, pocketed and no pocket T-shirts – sizes L-XXXL; sweatpants and shirts – sizes M, L, greater need of XL, 2X, 3X dark colors; underwear for men and women, M, L, XL, XXL; and non-slip shower flip flops and house shoes for men sizes 11-14 and for women sizes 5-10.

Personal care items: No used items. Large containers of shampoo and 3-in-1 body wash for men and women, deodorant for men and women, hair oil and spray, toothbrushes and holders, toothpaste, denture adhesive, soap dishes and single-edge razors.

Miscellaneous: Liquid laundry soap, high-efficiency detergent, craft items for recreational therapy for men and women such as models, leather and needlecrafts, magnifying glasses, pocket calculators, sugar-free candy, large-print puzzle books, gift cards, lap and full-length Americana service blankets, and reading glasses – 1.00-2.50.

Donated supplies should be delivered to the museum at 100 Veterans Circle. Monetary donations are also needed. Checks can be made out to CVAHS Voluntary Services and designate Community Living Center Donation in the memo line.

Two Jacksonville churches are holding Christmas dinners to ensure no one is alone or hungry for the holidays.

Jacksonville First United Methodist Church will hold a free Christmas meal for the community and church members at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 21 in its Family Life Center. The meal is part of its Mission 5000 program, which gives free meals at 5:30 p.m. Wednesdays and 11:30 a.m. Saturdays.

Word of Life Worship Center in Jacksonville will hold a free community Christmas dinner from noon until 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 24.

The church is at 607 N. First St., Suite 4 inside Stonewall Square Shopping Center. The menu includes chicken and dressing, green beans, corn, rolls, dessert and tea, and small bags of fruits and door prizes will be given.

People may eat at the church or carry out their meals. Delivery will be available for elderly residents in Jacksonville by calling 501-708-5843.

And to make the holiday spirit last all year, Jacksonville-native and NFL defensive tackle Clinton McDonald, who plays for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, is seeking sponsors for his annual springtime events in Jacksonville—a family festival and a youth football and cheerleading camp.

The McDonald and Associates Collective Collaboration-Light Into Darkness nonprofit group, which he established soon after winning the Super Bowl in 2014 with the Seattle Seahawks, will hold the fifth annual Iron Sharpens Iron Youth Football and Cheer Camp for kids 7 to 17 years olds on April 7-8. It will also host the third annual Family and Friends Fun Day the same weekend.

Current NFL and college players, trainers and coaches teach young people at the camp football skills in a safe environment that aims to develop discipline, character and personal growth with emphasis on goal setting, hard work, sportsmanship and commitment in order to achieve success.

Donations and sponsorships are needed to keep the events inexpensive. For more information or to make a pledge, call Dominique McGrudder at 501-773-091, visit www.maccllid.org and https://vimeo.com/158576790.

Charity is the essence of the holiday season. These are just a few ways to make an impact this Christmas. We thank you in advance.

TOP STORY >> Road to Bethlehem is now open

The Christmas Road to Bethlehem annual holiday display in Lonoke County is now open and will remain open through Jan. 1 along Bethlehem Road, off Hwy. 31 North, 11 miles north of Lonoke and 11 miles south of Beebe.

Leading to Bethlehem United Methodist Church, it features 30 hand-painted scenes and scriptures along the roadside telling the story of Christ’s birth.

The church, 2540 Bethlehem Road, will also hold musical programs, candlelight services and refreshments from 7 till 9 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.

According to the announcement, “Since its beginning in 1987 the exhibit has been a popular destination for visitors from all over central Arkansas and beyond at Christmastime. Many who have visited share memories of driving down Bethlehem Road and reading the Christmas story together with family and friends.

The displays are lighted at night but are also enjoyable for daytime drives.

“You are invited to bring friends, relatives, large groups, church buses, and senior citizen groups to come enjoy the Christmas Road to Bethlehem this Christmas Season,” the announcement concluded.

TOP STORY >> Consolidated school band ready to play

By DEBORAH HORN
Leader staff writer

The moment DeBoious Cabbs starts pulling the door to the Jacksonville High School band practice room, music rushes out. The notes are rambunctious, enthusiastic and loud and the traditional marching band fare has been replaced by holiday melodies like “Deck the Halls.”

The room is filled with ninth- through 12th-grade students, fielding a variety of instruments, from the smallest flutes to drums and keyboards too large to carry.

The band’s appeal is hard to resist. The public has an opportunity to hear the band perform a holiday concert at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the middle school.

This is the first few months of Jon Stevenson’s first year as band director for the new Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District. He smiles a lot and there’s a charming excitement behind his words that the kids readily sense.

Like the sea of faces he looks out over every day, he once was a student, and he says about conducting, “It’s all I’ve wanted to do.”

He plays trumpet and sings baritone. While a student at Central High School in Little Rock, he says he was encouraged to explore his musical talents by his band director and mentor Samuel Meredith, Ph.D.

Meredith says, “Jon was a very hardworking kid and not afraid of challenges, and even as a (high school) student, he just had that desire to be that band director.”

Even now, Stevenson calls his former teacher for advice and has invited him to be a guest conductor at JHS this spring, giving the students the valuable experience of working under a different conductor.

“I always felt that Jon was going to do something great,” Meredith says.

Stevenson says, “Meredith inspired me to be a band director.”

In turn, he is now encouraging and fostering the next generation, like junior DeBoious, who wants to study music and sound engineering at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, or junior Elizabeth Meneses, who plays the French horn and sees music as a way to further her education.

“Mr. Stevenson is a really good guy,” she says.

Stevenson attended Arkansas State University at Jonesboro and while there he was again encouraged and motivated by Professor Timothy Oliver, director of bands, coordinator of winds and percussions studies.

Oliver says, “I remember him very well. Jon is enthusiastic, intelligent, and he has an infectious personality. He has the ability to inspire students, and great passion for teaching and for the success of his students.”

In 2010, Stevenson graduated from ASU, only to re-enroll in the university’s master of music performance in conducting program.

While a graduate student, he was a teaching assistant, directed the university’s Wind Ensemble, Symphonic Winds, Concert Band, Sound of the Natural State Marching Band, and Women’s Basketball Pep Band.

From 2011 until 2013, he was district band director and general music instructor for grades K-12 for the Cross County School District.

He earned his master’s degree in 2015, and went to work for J.A. Fair High School in Little Rock and taught band for a year.

But he dreamed of conducting, so when the band director job came open at the new Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District, he applied.

He remembers he could hardly contain his excitement when Principal LaGail Biggs called, offering him the job.

“I held it together until I hung up the phone,” he says. Stevenson immediately called his parents, Terry and Sharon Stevenson of North Little Rock — his biggest fans.

The band director selection was decided by a panel who scored each applicant much like the way Olympic judges score gymnastics, Biggs says.

But she says from the first moment he stepped on the campus, even before this school year started, he was building a rapport with the kids. Last year was a pivotal time because North Pulaski and Jacksonville high schools started merging the two bands into one.

While the two high school bands officially consolidated last year, this was their first real, full year playing as a marching band at football games and other events.

Now that football season is over, they’ve turned their attention to holiday music.

Stevenson and the kids, like senior Valentino Warren II, and junior Eric Wilson and Daniel Wilson, not related, feel like they’re writing the first few pages of the band’s history, and it’s a real thrill.

It’s also about building a community and for many of the students, like ninth graders, band members and friends Genavieve Smith and Allana Cousins, band is a place were they belong and succeed.

Hunter Fletcher, a junior, often marches with the band at halftime while still wearing his football cleats.

“My dream is to chase football, but I enjoy the band. It’s a great experience,” he says.

Others agree.

Allana Cousins says, “I was really shy, but I came here and now it feels like family.”

Genavieve Smith says, “Because of the (friendly) competition, we play harder but we help each other too.”

Less than five months on the job, but Stevenson says, “It’s hands down the best job I’ve ever had.”

Music and the excellent instructors he encountered as he pursued his education, greatly shaped his life, and he hopes to do the same at Jacksonville High School.

He says, “A little taste of success spreads to other areas of their lives.”

He also appreciates the support of the administration and other staff.

Biggs says, “He has worked the kids hard and has high expectations, and he has an outstanding relationship with band members and parents. It’s already paying off.”

Already the marching band snagged a couple of competition awards on Oct. 15, including a 1st Division Superior Rating for Drum Major, 1st Division Superior Rating for Band, a second place Class B Best in Class Band Award and fourth Place Overall Band, when they competed against nine other bands at the Forrest City Marching Invitational.

They also were awarded a Composite Score of 1, which is a superior rating, on Oct. 1 at the ASBOA Marching Assessment at Maumelle, and on Oct. 22 at the Jessieville Legend Marching Competition they received a 1st Division Superior Rating in Drum Major, Percussion, Color Guard and Band Overall.

As well as Best in Class AAA for Outstanding Per-cussion and Outstanding Visual Performance.

Stevenson says, “I have some extraordinary kids. It’s overwhelming to see their passion…To be part of something bigger than themselves.”

“The kids are really proud of their accomplishments and I’m proud and pleased for them. They’re making history and setting academic precedence,” Biggs says.

Not bad for the new district’s first marching band!

Jacksonville High School and North Pulaski Middle School will perform their holiday concert at Jacksonville Middle School, 718 Harris Road, at 6:30 p.m. Thursday with pieces performed by the marching band, the jazz band and the middle school band and the middle school beginning band. For more information, call 501-982-9436.

TOP STORY >> Knight’s closing stores

Keith Knight, one of the owners of Knight’s Super Foods in Cabot and Beebe, announced his retirement Monday and said the stores will close after Christmas.

Knight’s is having a huge retirement sale with up to 50 percent off and will close after Christmas, having served the area for 45 years. All fresh meat, deli, produce, bakery, dairy, frozen food, health and beauty aids, tobacco (not cigarettes) are 25 percent off.

The same discounts apply in the floral department, greeting cards, gift bags, paper and balloons.

In a statement, the company announced, “Knight’s will close its doors for the final time at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 27.”

Knight’s grew with the communities it served going back to the 1970s, when the area, especially Cabot, was the fastest growing in the state.

“As loyal customers, employees, business associates, friends and suppliers, you gave us the opportunity to serve you in Cabot and Beebe as Knight’s Super Food Stores for the past 45-plus years,” the statement continued.

“For over three generations, since we first opened in Cabot in 1971, you have been a part of our family and business,” Knight’s said.

“Knight’s has been honored to support the Cabot, Beebe, Ward and Lonoke communities throughout the years, and we appreciate so very much the support of all our many loyal customers,” the statement said.

“We thank you again for the life, memories and the opportunity to serve you.”

Early this year, the Knights sold their Jacksonville store at 315 S. James St. in Jackson Square to the Edwards family, who reopened it as an Edwards Cash Saver in April.

Knight’s was named Cabot Chamber of Commerce business of the year and provided hundreds of jobs, especially to young people working their way through high school.

Keith Knight, his brother Kent and their mother Sandra have been operating the stores, along with several other family members. Sandra and her husband, Warren, founded the company in Cabot in 1971. Warren passed away in 2005 at the age of 71.

The Knights founded the chain of supermarkets with a small store on Locust Street in downtown Cabot 45 years ago, when the city’s population was about a tenth of what it is today.

Warren and Sandra were married for 53 years. The Knights married in 1952 and were determined to make a success of themselves despite their modest circumstances.

They raised a family in Memphis, where Warren worked for the A&P supermarket chain. They eventually moved to Pine Bluff, where Warren worked for Weingarten’s, a Houston-based grocery chain with several stores in Arkansas.

Warren became Weingarten’s Arkansas manager and moved to North Little Rock, where their sons Kent, Keith and Kevin went to school. Warren left Weingarten’s in 1971, taking his family to Cabot, where they bought Thompson’s Dollar Saver, turning it into a success almost immediately with $10,000 in sales the first week.

Knight’s opened new supermarkets in quick succession in Cabot (two), Beebe and Jacksonville.

When a customer complained about steaks she had bought at Knight’s for a party, Warren took some steaks over to her home and cooked dinner for everybody, cutting up a watermelon for everyone while they waited for dinner.

SPORTS STORY >> Cruised through Classic

By ANN THARP 
Special to The Leader

The Cabot Panther basketball team defeated White Hall Saturday in the Cabot Pre-Holiday Classic to remain undefeated in the tournament and claim the championship trophy. Cabot controlled the game from the beginning and the final score was 74-23. The Panthers also had victories over Catholic (61-26) and Magnolia (61-40) in the tournament.

“I wish it had been a closer game for us to help us later on, but a good thing about that is, you get to reward a lot of your kids that work every day in practice,” Cabot coach Jerry Bridges said. “I was proud of our team because we went out there and did what we were supposed to do. I thought we did come out with our edge from the get-go. We did win the Classic, and everyone got to play. That’s a good thing.”

Cabot jumped out to a 8-0 lead before the Bulldogs could score. Logan Gilbertson started the scoring with a 2-pointer under the basket. Matt Stanley sank two free throws and a 2-point basket, followed by a steal and dunk by Jarrod Barnes.

Tylin Walker scored two for White Hall, but the offense of the Panthers continued to shine. Stanley had a dunk, Barnes and Parker Childress each had a 3-point basket, and Gilbertson ended the quarter with an old-fashioned 3-point play for a score of 22-4.

Stanley scored twice from offensive rebounds early in the second frame. Jared Vance sank a three and then a 2-pointer under the basket.

Bobby Joe Duncan had two 3-point baskets, and Gilbertson a dunk on a feed by Duncan. Landon Vaught also had four points. The lead was 43-6 at the half.

Vance, Childress, and Jalen Brown all sank 3-pointers in the third quarter, but Noah Allgood led in scoring for the period with five points. Aiden Shurley added a two, and the score grew to 61-20 after three periods.

Vance hit his third and fourth 3-point baskets in the fourth quarter, Childress had three points, and Vaught added a 2-point basket and a pair of free throws for the final margin of 74-23.

Vance led in scoring for Cabot with 14 points, Gilbertson and Stanley each had 10, Childress had nine points, Vaught added eight, Duncan six, and Barnes, Brown, and Allgood each had five points. Walker had 12 points for the Bulldogs.

Cabot hosts Jacksonville on Friday.

SPORTS STORY >> Lighthouse lighting up scoreboard

By RAY BENTON
Leader sports editor

HAZEN – The Jacksonville Lighthouse Charter boys made it 10 wins in a row on Monday with a 96-41 destruction of the Hazen Hornets at Hazen. That win followed a busy week of six wins in eight days, including the championship game of the Conway Regional Tournament at Conway Christian Academy.

On the opening day of the tournament, which was Dec. 3, the Wolves followed a win in the Battle of the Border at Hall High School with a first-round tournament winat Conway over Glen Rose.

On Tuesday at home in a conference game, they beat Marvell 82-75. Back to tournament play in Conway on Thursday, Lighthouse escaped with a 57-56 win over defending Class 3A state champion Harding Academy. In another home conference game on Friday, the Wolves demolished Carlisle 91-41.

In the championship game of the Conway Regional Tournament this past Saturday, they ran away from Guy-Perkins in the second half for a 100-69 victory, before finally hammering Hazen in the first league road game on Monday.

In Thursday’s win over Harding Academy, the Wildcats controlled the pace and led 22-20 at halftime. Lighthouse did a better job of forcing the faster pace it likes in the second half, but never was able to shake the defending 3A champs.

The Wolves took a 39-38 lead into the fourth quarter and the game stayed close until the very end.

JLC’s Gerald Doakes hit the game-winning shot with four seconds to go. HA called timeout and got a good look at the game-winner, but the shot was off the mark.

“They’re a pretty good team,” JLC coach Kelvin Parker said. “They ran some good sets and defended well. But we won that game with our defense. Our shooting was off, but it was our best defensive game of the year. We did a good job of talking and switching off, and keeping their shooters from getting open.”

Doakes finished that game with 22 points while Cameron Shaffer added 10.

On Friday, Carlisle had little answer for the numerous scorers the Wolves boast, and had trouble breaking the JLC press. Lighthouse scored a whopping 34 points in the first quarter and held a 21-point lead. It was 54-27 at halftime and 80-37 by the end of the third quarter.

Devonte Davis led the Wolves (13-1, 3-0) in that game with 16 points. Doakes added 14 and Eric Childs scored 10. Reggie Adell and Jakalon Simuel each added nine.

In the tournament championship game, Guy-Perkins was happy to play fast with Lighthouse in the first half, and beat them at their own game. GPHS took a 41-36 advantage in the locker room, but the Wolves dominated the second half.

They outscored the Thunderbirds 33-12 in the third quarter for a 69-53 lead, and closed the game with a 31-point fourth quarter.

“They were basically playing defense with four and snowbirding one out,” Parker said of Guy-Perkins’ first-half strategy. “They were banking on us missing and having an open shot. We figured some things out at halftime. They also weren’t very deep, and they got tired trying to run with us the whole time. They didn’t handle the press very well after fatigue set in a little bit.”

Doakes led the third-quarter outburst, scoring 16 of his game-high 23 points in that period. Troy Spivey scored 15 of his 16 in the fourth quarter. Zack Bobo added 11 points and Shaffer scored 10 for the Wolves.

Monday’s game at Hazen was over shortly after it began. Hazen coach Clint Honnol called two timeouts in the first three minutes, and nothing helped. He called his third timeout with 4:04 left in the first quarter, and the score was already 20-2.

With a 1:10 still remaining in the first quarter, Bobo’s 3-pointer made it 40-5. The score was 40-9 by the end of the quarter, largely because the Wolves started getting creative, but not very successfully, with how they scored after steals and turnovers in the final minute of the period.

“When they get a game in hand like that, I don’t mind them trying to have a little fun,” Parker said.

Davis was the beneficiary of most of the early turnovers. He scored 23 points in the first quarter (20 on layups) and finished with a game-high 34.

Remarkably, only two other Wolves were in double figures, and both came off the bench. Childs finished with 11 while Spivey added 10. All 15 players on the roster play considerable minutes, and 13 got on the scoreboard.

The Wolves took an incredible 92 shots in the game, making 37 of them. They were just 4 of 22 from 3-point range and 18 of 31 from the foul line. Davis went 15 of 19 from the floor, made his only 3-point attempt and went 3 for 3 from the free-throw line.

Grant Shelman led Hazen (0-6, 0-2) with 19 points and 14 rebounds.

LADIES FALL SHORT

The girls’ game at Hazen wasn’t as successful for the Lady Wolves. Hazen led 19-2 at the end of the first quarter and went on to a 55-13 victory. JLC committed 36 turnovers and was outrebounded 54-28. The Lady Wolves struggled tremendously to make baskets as well, hitting just five times in 41 attempts, and going 3 for 13 from the free-throw line.

The team played much better at the Conway Regional Tournament, but still couldn’t come away with another win after getting its first in three years last Tuesday against Marvell.

The Lady Wolves closed the tournament with a 47-44 loss to Sacred Heart, a private school in Morrilton. The two teams played evenly for a half before JLC took a 38-35 lead into the fourth quarter. Things broke down at that point, and the Lady Wolves only managed six free throws and no baskets from the floor in the final frame.

Amaya English led the Lady Wolves with 23 points.

The JLC boys and girls travel to England on Friday.

SPORTS STORY >> Titans take down two in 7A-West

By RAY BENTON 
Leader sports editor

Despite being shorthanded and without their head coach, the Jacksonville Titans rebounded from a disappointing start to the Fayetteville tournament to close with a pair of wins over 7A-West competition.

The Titans (7-3) lost leading scorer Tyree Appleby early in the third quarter of a tournament opening loss to Harrison. They continued to struggle through the first half against Springdale on Friday, but found the right defense to take control in the second half.

On Saturday, Jacksonville beat the host team Fayetteville 47-44 despite also not having second-leading scorer DaJuan Ridgeway for the first half. The consolation game tipped off in the morning before Ridgeway could complete the ACT. He got to the game at halftime, finished with nine points and was named to the All-Tournament team.

Assistant Brandon Weems coached the entire tournament because head coach Vic Joyner was recovering from pneumonia.

Weems believes the team chemistry the Titans found without Appleby will be a boost to the team in the long run.

“Appleby has the ability to just create a lot of offense,” said Weems. “And at times, I think we fell into a habit of just watching and waiting for him to do something. He can either get to the rim himself or he can kick it out to an open man. We don’t really have anyone else who can create like that, but we do have a lot of guys who can shoot. So we had to rely on executing our offense in order to get those open shots. It took a little while. We were pretty out of sync all the way through the first half of the Springdale game, but we started executing after that and played pretty good the rest of the tournament.”

On Friday, Springdale led 31-23 at halftime, and still held a 38-32 advantage going into the fourth quarter. Jacksonville then turned up the defensive pressure and outscored the Bulldogs 23-9 in the fourth to take a 53-47 victory.

Ridgeway led all scorers with 22 points while Kavion Waller added nine, all on 3-pointers.

The win over Fayetteville was a back-and-forth affair. Fayetteville led 12-8 after one quarter, but the score was tied 23-23 at halftime. The host Bulldogs then won the third quarter 14-11 before Jacksonville again closed with pressure and held Fayetteville to just seven points in the fourth period.

Junior post player Christian White defended the rim when the Titans extended the defense, and did an outstanding job.

“We went to a little 2-2-1 and extended out to about halfcourt to the three-quarters,” Weems said. “They broke it a few times and we knew that would happen. But they still had trouble scoring because of how well Christian was playing. They got to where they were afraid to take it on in because of how he was playing. They started settling for short pull-ups instead of challenging him. He was a man back there.”

It wasn’t just the late defense that led to the win, early offensive execution played a role as well.

“Our first possession of the Fayetteville game was a good example of how we started executing,” Weems said. “I think it was nine passes and a wide-open 3-pointer. That was all because we were patient and executed what we set out to do.”

Junior Braylin Hawkins led Jacksonville with 11 points in the win over Fayetteville.

Springfield-Kickapoo won the tournament by beating Harrison 89-53 in the championship game.

The Lady Titans (7-7) also bounced back from a 31-point loss to Conway in the opening round of the Dondra Thomas/Wampus Cat Invitational to avenge two previous losses.

The Jacksonville ladies lost their second game of the year at Pine Bluff High School by nine points. Two weeks later, they lost by three in overtime to the Lady Zebras.

On Friday, they showed continued improvement despite also being very shorthanded by injuries, beating Pine Bluff 47-42 at Bolding Arena in Conway.

With only seven players, Jacksonville controlled the first half and took a 23-14 lead into halftime. Pine Bluff cut the margin to two by the end of the first quarter, but Jacksonville regrouped to maintain the lead and earn the victory.

Alexis James led Jacksonville with 19 points while Shy Christopher added 13.

On Saturday, Jacksonville got another crack at Hot Springs, which beat the Lady Titans 69-42 on Nov. 26. The second meeting didn’t result in a win, but the 45-30 loss still showed improvement over the last few weeks.

North Little Rock (8-0) won the Conway tournament, beating the host team 61-60 in the championship game. Conway is 7-2, and both losses were tournament title games to North Little Rock. The Lady Wildcats beat Conway 76-67 in the final of the Heavenly Hoops Classic at Mount St. Mary on Nov. 19

The Jacksonville boys and girls renew an old rivalry on Friday when they travel to Cabot. Girls tip off at 6 p.m. Boys follow.

SPORTS STORY >> Hillside captures another RHS title

By RAY BENTON 
Leader sports editor

RUSSELLVILLE – The Sylvan Hills boys basketball team claimed the championship trophy of the 2016 Cyclone Classic in Russellville Friday night by defeating the Subiaco Academy Trojans by a score of 73-35. It was the third-straight tournament final appearance for the Bears, and the second-straight tournament title.

The Bears defeated Mountain Home in the first round on Wednesday. They then beat Van Buren 71-52 to reach the finals. Taleh Wade, of Sylvan Hills, was named theMVP of the tournament. The Bears are undefeated this season at 8-0.

“The credit goes to those guys sharing the basketball like they did,” said Sylvan Hills coach Kevin Davis. “All this tournament, they’re very unselfish. In my 19 years at Sylvan Hills, it’s one of our better efforts as far as kids being unselfish. That’s a credit to them. They’re that way in the hallways, in the classrooms, in practice, and carry it to the game floor. I’m really proud of them. We were defending Cyclone Classic Champions from last year. We’ll keep it another year.”

The first quarter was all Sylvan Hills as they opened up a 14-0 lead before the Trojans finally got on the scoreboard with 1:10 remaining in the period. Jordan Washington opened the scoring for the Bears with a 2-point basket.

Jacobe Davis followed with a layup after a Subiaco turnover. Alex Curry grabbed an offensive rebound and put it in the basket, and Wade rebounded his own miss, made the putback and the additional free throw to give the Bears a 9-0 advantage.

Wade added another two, and Washington an offensive rebound and putback for the 14-0 lead before James Taylor hit a 2-pointer for the Trojans. Wade hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to end the quarter at 18-4.

The Sylvan Hills defense forced 11 Trojan turnovers in the opening quarter alone. The turnovers continued in the second and third periods with six and five respectively.

Subiaco did manage to score ten points in the second quarter, but the Bears put 26 points on the board and led 44-14 at the half.

Davis and Demetrius Torrence each had seven points in the period. Wade added another five points, including a take-away the length of the floor for a layup. Torrence and Davis each had 3-pointers, and J.D. Smith a steal and score.

The Trojans outscored Sylvan Hills 6-2 to start the third quarter, but the Bears came roaring back.

Curry tipped in his own miss, and Smith scored seven straight points, including a three.

Eric Penilla scored under the basket on an assist from Washington, and Washington had a dunk off a Trojan turnover as Sylvan Hills outscored Subiaco 17-10 in the frame for the 61-24 advantage.

Torrence and Justin Glascoe each had 3-point baskets, and Penilla six points in the final period for the Bears to set the final margin at 73-35.

Wade and Davis led Sylvan Hills in scoring with 14 points each, Torrence and Washington each had 10, Smith added nine points, while Penilla contributed eight.

Elvis Janga led Subiaco with 12 points.

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Panthers win first place

By RAY BENTON 
Leader sports editor

The Cabot Lady Panther basketball team won the Cabot Pre-Holiday Classic Saturday by defeating Jonesboro by a score of 42-31.

The final game was between the winners of the two pools of three in which two games were played. Cabot had defeated Searcy and Magnolia to get to the final. Jonesboro had defeated Little Rock McClellan and Beebe.

“I thought we played really, really well first quarter, then we got kind of lethargic in the second quarter,” said Cabot coach Carla Crowder. “We came back and had a really good third quarter. I thought we played really solid defense. We got to play quite a few people, so that’s a good thing for us. We’ve been doing a really good job of shooting free throws down the stretch. We came through and did it again tonight, so we were pleased with that.”

Cabot completely controlled the first quarter, outscoring the Lady Hurricanes 12-2. The Lady Panther defense forced a 5-second call and then a 10-second backcourt call at the very beginning of the period to set the tone. Jonesboro turned the ball over eight additional times as well in the quarter.

Josie VanOss started the Cabot scoring with a 2-pointer and one of two free throws. Camryn Harmon had an offensive rebound and putback, Holley Allen a two, and Lesley Roberts scored a two-point basket before the Lady Canes were able to score. VanOss hit a 3-point basket after a steal by Harmon for the 12-2 score at the end of one period.

Kayla Mitchell scored four consecutive points toward the start of the second quarter for Jonesboro. Allen responded for Cabot by picking off a Lady Cane in-bounds pass and taking it the distance for the layup. Jonesboro then scored nine straight points to cut the lead to 16-15. VanOss countered with a free throw and a 2-pointer under the basket on an assist by Allen. Mitchell scored on a driving layup at the buzzer for the Lady Canes, and the score at intermission was 19-17 in favor of the Lady Panthers.

The third period was low scoring as Jonesboro could only manage two 2-point baskets. Kenzie Wagner scored five points for Cabot and Roberts had a 2-point basket to start the quarter. The score was 26-21 at the end of three.

The Lady Canes pulled within three at 29-26 in the final quarter. Wagner was fouled and made the front end of a one-and-one. An offensive rebound on the second gave Cabot the ball. VanOss was charged with a foul on the offensive end, only to have the call overruled and VanOss went to the line instead and made both ends of a one-and-one for a 32-26 advantage.

A reverse layup by Destiny Salary and a free throw by Mitchell cut the lead back to three points, but Jonesboro began to foul, and VanOss hit eight free throws and Roberts two while the Lady Canes were only able to score once to set the final score at 42-31. VanOss was 12 of 15 from the free throw line for the game, ten of those in the fourth period.

VanOss had 23 points to lead the Lady Panthers in scoring. Wagner had seven points, while Roberts was next with six.

Salary led Jonesboro with 13 points, and Mitchell had seven points.