Tuesday, February 28, 2017

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Rabbits beat CAC in East regional

Leader sports editor

The Lonoke ladies beat Central Arkansas Christian 40-28 Saturday to take a three seed into the Class 4A state tournament that begins Wednesday in Nashville. After beating Highland in the opening round, the Lady Jackrabbits lost a late lead and the game to Pocahontas in the semifinals, then beat the Lady Mustangs for the first time in four tries this season.

Pocahontas (29-3) went on to beat eStem Charter 53-51 in overtime to earn the 4A-East No. 1 seed.

CAC’s sophomore sensation Christyn Williams suffered an injury just before halftime of the Mustangs’ loss to eStem, and also did not play against Lonoke.

Lonoke coach Heath Swiney was disappointed his team lost a two-point lead with two minutes to go against Pocahontas, but is mostly pleased with how his team played in regionals.

“I thought we were a little tight against Highland,” said Swiney. “Against Pocahontas, we had the game won. All we had to do was hang onto the ball and make free throws, but we lost it. We missed a lot of layups we normally don’t miss. They had two six-footers in there and that makes a difference, though. After they scored to go ahead, it was a matter of we had to foul. They made free throws and then we couldn’t hit anything to stay in it.”

Pocahontas won by a final score of 47-40.

Williams is a national recruit, even drawing offers from college dynasty UCONN.

“That’s a different team without Christyn Williams,” Swiney said. “Any team would be. They still have some good players and it was not an easy game.”

Lonoke will open the tournament at 1 p.m. Wednesday against Pottsville, a team that puts heavy and constant pressure on the ball. The Lady Apaches (18-11) like to force the tempo and have played in several high-scoring games. Swiney does not want his team to fall into that.

“They’re long and athletic and they press any way they can, really,” Swiney said. “I’ve seen them put three on the ball in the back court. They’re just going to press the dog mess out of you. They’ve been in some high, high scoring games and we’re going to try to avoid that. That would not bode well for us. They beat Heber Springs by 40, so you know they’re hard to stop when they get rolling. If you can handle their press, you’re going to shoot a lot of layups. If you don’t, they’re going to get you.”

A win on Wednesday means a 1 p.m. Thursday date with top-seeded Star City (29-2) whose only two losses were to 7A playoff teams Conway and Cabot in mid-November.