Friday, January 13, 2017

SPORTS STORY >> Sylvan Hills ladies outrun Maumelle

Leader sports editor

An 18-point win drew mixed reviews from Sylvan Hills girls’ coach Shelley Davis Tuesday in Sherwood. The Lady Bears got caught up in Maumelle’s frenetic style of play for long stretches of the game, but finally took control with a run in the third quarter before prevailing 66-48.

“Bad,” Davis, said, describing how she thought her team handled Maumelle’s tempo. “At times we settled down and did all right. Other times we just went crazy and didn’t run anything. We just ran. It was frustrating when that happened. We know what they’re going to do. We talk about and practice what we have to do, and then we lose focus and just start running up and down the floor.”

The Lady Hornets (3-11, 0-2)forced the fast pace at the opening tip, but neither team scored well. Despite the breakneck speed of the game, the score was just 4-4 three minutes in. Maumelle took a 7-6 lead a minute later, and that’s when the Lady Bears began to take control.

Sylvan Hills (10-5, 1-1) went on a 6-1 run with buckets by Alana Canady and Mallory Kimble, and two free throws by Jayla Bell. Maumelle called timeout, trailing 12-8 with 1:46 left in the first quarter, but it would get a lot worse for the visiting team before the end of the quarter.

After the timeout, Maumelle missed a quick shot, and Andrea Dolphin hit a pull-up jumper fromabout 12 feet. Diamond Flanders then got a steal, and the Dolphin scooped up the loose ball. She missed a layup in transition, but Bell was there for the rebound and putback. After another Hornet turnover, Bell hit a 3-pointer for a 19-8 lead just 61 seconds after the timeout.

Maumelle coach William Rountree called another timeout, and the Lady Hornets made 1 of 2 free throws after getting to the line. Bell then penetrated and kicked out to Dolphin, who hit another 3-pointer with 12 seconds left to set the halftime margin at 22-9.

It was a 16-2 run in a three-minute span, and most of it was with Canady, the team’s leading rebound and second-leading scorer, on the bench.

“That was our best stretch of the game,” Davis said. “We were playing fast, but we were getting in the right positions and executing our press. And we were finishing. Alana, bless her. She’s so talented, but she’s just not finishing real well right now. If she ever gets it all going at the same time, she’s going to be a tough player to deal with. Right now, she’s doing everything right, she’s just not making shots.”

Sylvan Hills scored first in the second quarter to take a 24-9 lead, but that’s where things began to unravel momentarily for the home team.

Sylvan Hills had dominated the boards in the first quarter, holding an 11-3 advantage. But with Canady (who had four rebounds in the first) on the bench, Maumelle’s taller lineup started getting second-chance points.

From 24-9, the Lady Hornets went on a 10-1 run to pull within 25-19 with four minutes left in the half. Post players Jayla King and McKenzie Smith led the charge for Maumelle, combining for all 10 points and seven rebounds.

Canady reentered the lineup and became a disruptive force defensively for the Maumelle posts.

Both offenses struggled the rest of the half, but Sylvan Hills outscored Maumelle 6-4 to take a 31-23 lead into the locker room.

The third quarter was a chaotic mess for both teams, but the Lady Bears were a bit more efficient than their opponent. For a two-minute stretch from 4:40 to 2:40, the Lady Bears went on a 7-0 run that increased its lead to 42-27.

The game went into the fourth quarter 45-30. Maumelle scored the first four points of the fourth, but never got any closer the rest of the way. The Lady Hornets couldn’t hit from outside or from the free-throw line. They did get a lift from bench players, but Bell scored 10 points to lead the Lady Bears in the last frame.

Bell led the Lady Bears for much of the game, and finished with a double-double.

“She’s becoming, really kind-of our foundation,” Davis said. “She’s just steady. She’s been getting 18-20 every night. Very solid and dependable player.”

Bell finished with 25 points and 10 rebounds. Canady also had a double-double, finishing with 11 points and 14 rebounds.

King had a double-double for Maumelle as well. She had 20 points and 10 rebounds while Kayla Freeman had 7 points and 10 rebounds.

SPORTS STORY >> Panthers cruise, ladies suffer upset

Leader sports editor

The Cabot boys’ basketball jumped out early and coasted to a ? victory over Fort Smith Southside on Tuesday in Fort Smith. The Lady Panthers, however, fell behind early and suffered a big upset loss. The Cabot girls (11-3, 0-1) fell victim to a 3-point barrage in a 49-45 loss to the Lady Mavericks. It was the Southside girls’ first win in a conference game in almost three years. The last one was Feb. 20, 2014.

Southside (5-8, 1-0) took its biggest lead with the first basket of the fourth quarter at 38-27. Cabot then went on an 11-1 run to close the gap to 39-38 halfway through the final frame.

Southside stretched it back to 44-40 with 2:46 left. Cabot rallied back to within 46-45 with 20 seconds to go, but couldn’t get a shot to fall in two possessions. Southside finished the scoring at the free-throw line.

Josie VanOss and Holly Allen led Cabot with 15 and 14 points. Kelly Carson and Montana Smith combined for seven of Southside’s nine 3-pointers. Carson led all scorers with 20 points while Smith had 12.

The Southside boys made a late run at Cabot, scoring 25 points in thef fourth quarter, but the hole was too deep. Cabot’s defense had held the Mavs to barely more than that the three previous quarters combined, and held a 47-27 lead going into the final frame.

The Panthers were in control from the opening tip, and took a 20-6 lead into the second quarter. They maintained control largely from the outside, where they hit eight 3-pointers, two each by Jared Vance, Bobby Joe Duncan and Jalen Brown.

Gilbertson led Cabot (11-1, 1-0) with 18 points. Duncan added 14 and Stanley made it another double-double (his third straight) with 10 points and 11 rebounds.

SPORTS STORY >> Hillside comes back at J.A. Fair

Leader sports editor

The Sylvan Hills Bears lost for just the second time this year and the first time in league play on Tuesday, but bounced back with a nice win on Wednesday in a makeup game from last Friday.

The Bears almost overcame a 17-point third-quarter deficit cutting the margin to five in the fourth, but lost 85-71 to the Hornets.

On Wednesday, in a much different kind of game, the Bears prevailed at J.A. Fair 57-50.

In Tuesday’s game, the taller, deeper and more athletic Hornets (14-2, 2-0) appeared on the verge of blowing the Bears away on two occasions, but the home team battled back both times. The first came in the middle of the second quarter when a 10-0 run turned a one-point deficitinto a 37-28 Maumelle lead with 1:24 left in the half.

But the Bears responded with an 8-2 run, starting with a baseline drive by Justin Glasco with 1:06 left in the first half.

Maumelle then threw the ball away, and Sylvan Hills post player Alex Curry converted a 3-point play with 52 seconds left. Quan Richardson got an offensive rebound for Maumelle, but Taleh Wade did the same for the Bears at the buzzer, and was fouled.

His free throw made it 39-36 as the teams headed to the locker room.

The Hornets opened the second half with heavy ball pressure the length of the court, and Sylvan Hills didn’t handle it well for the first few minutes.

The Bears only committed 13 turnovers in the game, but six of them came in that four-minute stretch as the Hornets built a 57-40 lead with 3:51 to play in the third quarter.

Sylvan Hills coach Kevin Davis called his first timeout at that point, and his team began chipping away at the deficit. Guard Jacobé Davis and post player Jordan Washington combined for 12 points in the last three minutes of the third, and led the Bears to within 63-52 by the start of the fourth period.

Maumelle continued its harassing defense, but wasn’t creating turnovers any longer. The Bears only had one the entire fourth quarter. The Hornets were, however, getting to the free-throw line, and they were making the most of it.

Sylvan Hills was within 68-59 with 5:38 to go, and all of Maumelle’s fourth-quarter points came at the foul line.

Maumelle got the ball after the timeout, but Jacobé Davis got a steal and Zion Butler scored in transition to make it 68-61. Pat Greene scored Maumelle’s first field goal of the fourth for a 70-61 lead with 4:55 lead. Jamal Johnson got a putback for the Bears, and Washington blocked Tremont Robinson’s shot at the other end. Jacobé then scored to make it 70-65 with 3:55 to play.

Maumelle went to the line on its next possession and hit 1 of 2 attempts for a six-point lead. Sylvan Hills’ Daylon Raynor was then knocked to the floor at midcourt with no call, and the Hornets’ Darius Tate scored after scooping up the loose ball.

On the Bears’ next possession, Butler missed from outside. Tate also missed for Maumelle at the other end, but Greene got away with shoving Washington in the back for the offensive rebound, and he was fouled.

Greene made both foul shots to stretch the lead back to 10, and the Bears were never closer than nine the rest of the way.

Maumelle made 16 of 21 free throws in the final period.

“I’m not blaming the loss on the officials,” said Kevin Davis. “But those two calls, or no calls rather, after we got it to five or six points, those were huge. Daylon just got flattened out there right in the open court and they don’t call that? Then Jordan gets knocked to the ground and they score there after we had a stop. After that, I think we were a little tired and that kind of took the wind out of us. After battling back a quarter and a half to get it to five, and just like that it’s 10 again.”

Robinson led all scorers with 25 points while Greene added 14. Richardson had 11 for Maumelle and Lucas Li came off the bench to contribute 10.

Three Bears were in double figures. Davis had 19, Wade 16 and Washington 10.

The Bears were 19 of 32 from the free-throw line while Maumelle made 26 of 33.

The foul shooting wasn’t very good for three quarters on Wednesday against J.A. Fair. But outside shooting was outstanding and the Bears made 15 of 19 from the line in the fourth quarter to preserve that victory.

Kevin Davis was worried about leg weariness playing the day after such a fast-placed and physical team like Maumelle, but the War Eagles’ more deliberate tempo boded well for Sylvan Hills.

The Bears made seven 3-pointers, including four by Raynor, who feasted on Fair’s 2-3 zone. Sylvan Hills built a 38-30 lead by the end of the third, and Fair was forced to switch to man defense to keep Sylvan Hills from running out the clock.

When the Eagles’ had to start fouling, the Bears finally came through at the line.

Jacobé Davis again had 19 points and Wade finished with 17. Raynor finished with 14 for the Bears.

Sylvan Hills (13-2, 2-1) played Parkview Friday night after Leader deadlines. Look for details of that game in Wednesday’s edition of The Leader.

SPORTS STORY >> Buzzer beater lifts Badgers

Leader sports editor

In one of the team’s best performances of the year, and the most exciting boys’ game at Badger Arena in several years, the Beebe Badgers won their second-straight conference game 64-63 over Vilonia on Tuesday.

Down two with the ball for the last shot, Beebe point guard D’Andre Butler got inside Vilonia’s perimeter defense and penetrated to the free-throw line. The Eagles (8-6, 1-2) collapsed on him and he kicked out to senior Grant Brown on the left wing. Brown let fly with a second to go, and the shot went through as the buzzer sounded.

“I think this will help,” said Beebe coach Ryan Marshall in an interview on Thursday. “If we continue to put some wins up, maybe we’ll create some excitement and that’ll help with the crowds. We had a good crowd in this one and we gave them something to cheer about. I just hope we don’t go brain dead. They’re still strutting around here in high cotton today. But that’s all right as long as they get ready and play just as hard in the next one. They need to have some success.”

Playing hard is what Marshall says earned the win. Things didn’t look good early. Vilonia made seven 3-pointers in the first half and wasup 37-25 at halftime. Beebe senior K.J. O’Neill’s 14 points kept the Badgers within striking distance. Vilonia made sure O’Neill didn’t beat them in the second half, but several other players stepped up.

“Grant Jackson had a stretch there in the third and fourth quarter where he was just a totally different player,” Marshall said. “Grant Brown, that was his only basket of the night and he became the hero. That’s great for him being a senior. He shot it really well for us against Searcy, too.

“D’Andre had one boneheaded moment when he put up a shot with about 24 seconds left when we had the lead, but overall he had a really nice game. That last play, I don’t know if we have anyone else on our team that could’ve made that play to get inside and make that pass.”

Brad (Worthington) probably had his best all-around game of the year for the second game in a row. He had 24 points and 10 rebounds, and he fouled out with four minutes to go. Zeke Reddig came in and did a great job for us.”

Though he doesn’t contribute a lot of points in most games, including Tuesday, Marshall saved some of his highest praise for senior Landon Davis.

“Landon Davis is the glue to everything we do defensively,” Marshall said. “He doesn’t get talked about because he’s usually only going to score 4 or five points. But he guards the other team’s best player most of the time. He’s almost always out-sized, out-athleted, but he works hard and he overachieves. That’s kind of true for this whole bunch, and that’s what we’re looking for from them. Landon leads the way in doing that.”

Beebe took care of the basketball as well. Vilonia presses the entire game and often runs two five-man groups in and out.

Beebe doesn’t have that kind of depth and doesn’t play that kind of defense, but the Badgers forced 18 turnovers in their halfcourt offense while only committing eight against Vilonia’s pressure.

The second-half comeback was, perhaps, a clear turning point for the Badgers. Beebe (7-9, 2-1) started the season 1-4, and had the lead at halftime in all four losses. The Badgers played well but lost a pair of overtime games at the Morrilton tournament, and then slumped to three-straight losses over the Christmas break, including the conference opener at Greenbrier, a team they beat by 16 at Morrilton.

Overcoming a double-digit halftime deficit to beat a high-quality opponent may signal a milestone for the Badgers.

“What I’m so impressed with is how they fought,” Marshall said. “It was a winning mentality. This group, last year, if they’re down 12 at half, we’re getting beat by 20 or 30 points. They didn’t do that. They played with some purpose. I told them at half, let’s have it to 7 or 8 by the fourth quarter and just keep chipping away. Well it was tied halfway through the third. We defended really well and then executed. We made shots. But mostly because we played with a winning mentality.”

Beebe outscored Vilonia 22-5 in the third quarter and gave up just one field goal.

O’Neill was held to two points in the second half and finished with 16 to go with Worthington’s 24, but Jackson scored all 10 of his points in the second half.

EDITORIAL >> Base center of excellence

In a recent interview with The Leader, Col. Charles E. Brown, commander of the 19th Airlift Wing and of Little Rock Air Force Base, discussed operations at the base and the possibility of more missions at the world’s premier C-130 base.

LRAFB is the center of excellence thanks to the brave men and women who contribute to the nation’s defense every day, carrying out missions around the world that are sometimes taken for granted, but not by us, because we appreciate their dedication, hard work and heroism.

Brown said inspectors re-cently carried out the first cyber-readiness inspection in five years at the base. “We were the only unit in Air Mobility Command to get an ‘excellent’ in our cyber inspection,” Brown added.

According to the Air Force, the cyber-readiness inspection “is a thorough review of networks and computers on installations throughout the Department of Defense and is conducted by the Defense Information Systems Agency under the direction and authority of U.S. Cyber Command.”

“This is an achievement that reflects the Air Force core value of ‘Excellence In All We Do,’” said Master Sgt. Kenneth E. Brown, 19th Communications Squadron CCRI preparations team superintendent. “We worked hard for this and as a team we came together and everyone did their part.”

The award is well deserved but not surprising to those who watched LRAFB start out as a community initiative that brought the air base to Jacksonville on donated land. Some 10,000 military personnel and civilian employees make the global mission possible, including the great trainers at the 314th Airlift Wing, the Arkansas Guard’s 189th Airlift Wing, the Reserves and others that contribute $469.2 million in annual economic activity in the community.

“We care about the airmen and their families,” Brown told us. “Our airmen feel the pride of combat airlift, and they do their job better day to day. They connect to the mission, fighting on behalf of our nation’s defense and other nations’ defense that don’t have the ability to do so themselves.”

The air base has done well, thanks to the thousands of dedicated men and women at the base and the leadership that inspires them to achieve their goals — making their families and communities proud of those achievements.

LRAFB is one of eight installations under consideration to house the Battlefield Airman program, which will train airmen to be combat controllers, rescue officers and joint terminal air controllers who call in airstrikes from fighters and bombers on behalf of the Army, Marines and Navy.

Whoever gets that training mission will add 200 instructors and train about 1,200 airmen a year, Brown said.

The 19th Airlift Wing has been modernized with 28 C-130J aircraft, as has most of the base as the older C-130Hs are retired. Some 60 C-130s are ready to serve on the flightline for military missions, humanitarian aid and training.

What’s more, the air base is prepared for the future, the commander said. Little Rock Air Force Base, now known as the center of excellence for all things C-130, could add more missions to its busy portfolio.

“We don’t want to sit back and just say we’re the home of the C-130. We’re very good at what we do, but we see potential for growth in another area that’s synergistic with what we do here,” the commander said.

The static displays at Little Rock Air Force Base show some of the various missions with which the base has been tasked for over the past 62 years, including jets, Titan ICBM missiles, bombers of the Strategic Air Command and of course the C-130 airlifter, Brown said.

The base is being upgraded with a new $117 million runway that ensures its future for the next 62 years, while other improvements will secure more missions for Jacksonville.

Brown, who has been commander since May 2015, will leave the air base in good hands: Col. Gerald Donohue, 86th Operations Group commander at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, will succeed Brown this summer as base commander and commander of the 19th Airlift Wing.

Thank you, Col. Brown, for your service, and we salute those who serve with you. “Excellence in All We Do” — it’s a motto you earn every day. We see that every time our eyes meet the sky.

TOP STORY >> Dog shot in Cabot after hit by vehicle

Leader staff writer

A Cabot woman filed a cruelty to animal-creulty report Jan. 9 after her dog was shot and killed on West Main Street.

The city’s animal services department believes the dog was likely shot to end its suffering after being hit by a vehicle.

Animal services director Mike Wheeler told The Leader, “In the last seven years there have been two reported dog shootings. One was self-defense and the other was euthanasia. This appears to be a humane euthanasia of an injured animal, a form of euthanasia recognized by the state.”

According to the report, police were called at 7:40 p.m. Jan. 9 to 14 Oak Brook Drive about a dog that was shot.

Sissy Delozier, its owner, told police her husband called and said her three dogs had gotten out. Two of the dogs returned and one had injuries to its back legs.

She said she found her chow chow on the side of the road in the ditch at a neighbor’s house at 3600 W. Main St. She had her husband pick up the dog. They then realized the dog had been shot.

Police photographed both dogs. The dead dog also had a broken leg.

A neighbor said she had heard a dog yelping. She saw a man, who had been driving a white truck, dragging a dog off the road. The neighbor said she did not hear any gunshots. The dog was valued at $2,800.

An animal control officer was called to the scene. In his report, he said he examined the dog and determined it had broken legs and other injuries that occurred before death, possibly due to being hit by a vehicle. The gunshot was a single shot to the head. The officer informed the owner of his findings.

TOP STORY >> VFW Auxiliary leader visits

Leader staff writer

VFW Auxiliary national president Colette Bishop spoke about veterans’ mental health during her stop at the Jacksonville VFW Post 4548 on Tuesday.

The VFW Auxiliary is focusing on veterans mental health, including post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injuries and suicide.

“They say there are 20 veterans a day that commit suicide. That is 20 too many for me. I’m not a counselor, but we can help our veterans many different ways. We can provide a place and a post home for them to have a group meeting. Let them facilitate the meeting. What do they want to talk about? What do they need to talk about? If they get to a point that (suicide) is what they have to do, we can direct them to the right place to get fixed,” Bishop said.

She thinks many veterans have come home from the war with ailments and families did not see the signs and recognize what it was. Many veterans just did not talk about the war.

Bishop asked the VFW Auxiliary members to educate the community on veterans mental-health issues and how to help. There are five things to look for in a person that may have emotional pain and might need help: Personality change, agitation, withdrawal, poor self-care and hopelessness.

“I believe we can make a difference,” she said.

VFW Auxiliary is looking for new members. It was known for years as the VFW Ladies Auxiliary. Last year the organization dropped ladies from the name.

“There is no reason ladies can be members and men can’t. That’s not fair. If we don’t keep growing, we are going to stop being an organization,” Bishop said.

She said last year 1,400 men became members.

Bishop is from Muscatine, Iowa. She is the third generation in her family to serve as auxiliary and district president. When she was growing up her parents were leaders in their local VFW Post.

“I think this is a family organization, and we need to get back to being one. We are the only ones that are going to teach our children Americanism, patriotism and about the wars. If we don’t, they aren’t going to learn it because they don’t teach it in schools anymore,” Bishop said.

TOP STORY >> Tax cuts set to help vets on pensions

Leader senior staff writer

The general assembly gets down to work in earnest next week, with consideration of the governor’s agenda including two proposed tax cuts, according to state Rep. Bob Johnson (D-Jacksonville).

The session began Monday when 76 Republicans and 24 Democrats in the House and 26 Republicans and nine Democrats in the Senate took the oath of office.

State Sen. Jeremy Gillam (R-Judsonia) was re-elected House speaker and Sen. Jonathan Dismang (R-Searcy) was re-elected Senate President Pro Temp.

Among housekeeping measures in the House, most Republicans and a handful of Democrats voted to let the House speaker make all committee appointments in the future.


The governor has proposed a $50 million tax cut for Arkansans earning less than $21,000 a year. A second proposal would exempt military retirement pay from state income taxes and could, initially cost the state $10 million to $13 million a year, but over time is expected to be a revenue generator by making retirement in the state more attractive, supporters say.

There are three similar bills proposed, including one sponsored by Johnson and Sen. Jane English (R-North Little Rock).

Styled SB 13, the bill sponsored by English in the Senate and in the House by Johnson would also eliminate state income tax on militarybenefits. That bill has been sent to the Senate Committee on Revenue and Taxation and is on the committee agenda for Wednesday.

HB 1003, sponsored by state Sen. Charlene Fite (R-Van Buren), state Sen. Missy Irvin (R-Mountain View) and state Rep. Scott Baltz (D- Pocahontas), was referred to the House Committee on Revenue and Taxation Monday. It is essentially the same bill as the English-Johnson version.

“I think it’s going to go through within 10 days,” Johnson said. He said he had encountered no organized opposition, although “not everyone’s on board.”

The governor’s agenda is likely to be considered first, and the tax issues are likely to be at the top.

“We’ll start working on the governor’s whole tax package,” Johnson said. It could take two weeks.”


Gov. Asa Hutchinson has proposed a tax cut initiative to recruit new military retirees to the state and keep the old ones by eliminating the tax on military retirement pay. It’s being styled as an economic development initiative, as well as the right thing to do for veterans.

“Arkansas is playing catch-up to all of our surrounding states who have already discovered the benefits of attracting military retirees into the workforce. None of our neighboring states tax military retired pay,” said retired Col. Steve Eggensberger of Cabot, the governor’s liaison for veterans affairs.

The governor’s approach would offset more tax reductions with the repeal of other exemptions. He would remove the exclusion from income on unemployment compensation, which would create $3.1 million in additional General Revenue.

By applying the sales tax on the full cost of manufactured housing, the state would generate $2.4 million in additional General Revenue.

The state could levy the full sales tax on the sale of candy and soft drinks. (Candy and soft drinks are currently taxed at a lower rate under the Grocery Tax.) This proposed change would bring in $13.8 million in additional General Revenue.

In all, closing exemptions would add $19.3 million to state revenues. It would provide $6.3 million for the Medicaid Trust Fund, leaving it intact, the governor said.


“I’m not sure the tax package will help the poor,” Johnson said. “I want to make sure we can afford it.”

“We haven’t met our (revenue) projections yet,” Johnson said. “I don’t know if we can do that.”

“We haven’t even had committee meetings yet. No bills other than funding bills,” she said.

English said she’s optimistic about her bill on the military income tax exemption.

She said she’s not heard any proposals or bills yet that would establish a permanent funding source for the state Transportation and Highway Department.

Sen. Eddie Joe Williams (R-Cabot) said he believed the tax cuts would pass without a lot of opposition.

Other issues and challenges facing the General Assembly this session include organizing and starting the process needed to grow and distribute medical marijuana.

There could be tweaks to what may be the final year of Obamacare. On Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to begin dismantling Obamacare, also known as the Affordable Care Act.

Bills pertaining to teacher’s health insurance, gun laws and abortion will likely be filed.

As the guys in the bleachers like to say, “when the legislature is in session, nobody is safe.”

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

EDITORIAL >> Jacksonville preservation

The Jacksonville Historical District has laid out its best vision yet for its plan to preserve and revitalize the town’s original downtown near the railroad tracks on South First and Second streets between East Center and Mulberry streets.

An appeal for financial contributions sent to supporters included a lengthy list summarizing the origins of nearly every building in that area. Previously the group has released colorful sketches of the area they hope to protect.

To many, the buildings seem destined for the wrecking ball. That part of town hasn’t been the center of commerce since Hwy. 67/167 was constructed and Little Rock Air Force Base opened, shifting activity north. Passenger trains haven’t stopped in Jacksonville in at least 50 years, which also made that area less relevant.

But organizers of the Jacksonville Historical District see potential for new economic activity brought about through an appreciation for their town’s old-timey days when Jacksonville was not much more than a train stop.

We can see the area getting a new billiards parlor at 120 S. First St., where Mule Taylor opened a pool hall in 1942 to entertain the hundreds of workers who had come to Jacksonville to work at the ordnance plant, building weaponry for World War II.

Mule Taylor also ran a 24-hour café next door at 118 S. First St., where Roberta’s Salon is today. The salon is owned by Roberta McGrath, a founding member of the Jacksonville Historical District. She’s also has an art gallery in that area.

Rep. Bob Johnson (D-Jacksonville) is working to change state law to allow drinks to be served without the charade of getting a private-club license. That could help a pool hall and other venues in the historic district as well as many other businesses all over Jacksonville.

A small coffee shop and café could help bring people to the historic district. Enjoy a blueberry muffin, a shot of espresso or an ice cream before heading over to the history museum and learning about Jacksonville’s early days.

There are also plans to establish a welcome center and build a replica of the train depot that once stood at the site. Also, the original telegraph and freight office that once stood along the tracks will be returned in the spring after being rediscovered on private land in north Pulaski County outside of town.

Most of the 20 buildings in the historic district were built in the middle of the 20th Century, but a few are older: 118 N. First St. is engraved “Thompson 1938,” which was Blodgett’s Drug Store in 1951 and Nixon’s Barber Shop in the 1940s; 112 N. First St. was first a wood-frame mercantile store built by Edgar Harpole in 1927. The area was first settled in 1870.

This historic district’s list, which was published by The Leader last Wednesday, shows a group that’s focused on research about the past. But it can’t reach its goals without the community’s financial support.

Alderman Barbara Mashburn, another founding member of the preservation group, is asking the public to mail checks to the Jacksonville Historical District, P.O. Box 6507, Jacksonville, Ark. 72078.

For more information about making a donation, email her at or call 501-765-0767.

Contributions will be recognized as people and businesses that donate $1,000 or more will have their name engraved on a plaque inside the future history museum.

For $100 or more, your name will be on a list with other sponsors of the historical district.

There are other ways to help, too. Annual memberships are available for $20 and lifetime memberships are $500, and books about Jacksonville’s history, which cost $20 each, and T-shirts that say “Straight Outa J-Ville” for $15 each. Both can be purchased by calling Mashburn. Proceeds from those sales will help support the historic district.

We look forward to vibrancy returning to the area and winning the appreciation of residents from other parts of town and beyond. The Jacksonville Historical District has done its homework, and it deserves the community’s support more than ever.

TOP STORY >> Sicard takes reins at ANG

189th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The Arkansas Air National Guard welcomed Brig. Gen. Marc A. Sicard of Cabot as its new commander during a ceremony Saturday at Little Rock Air Force Base. Sicard took the reins from Brig. Gen. James K. Vogel, who retired from the Air National Guard the same day.

Vogel commanded the Arkansas Air National Guard for more than 18 months.

As commander of the Arkansas Air National Guard, Sicard oversees the operation of all Air National Guard components in the state, including more than 2,500 airmen who make up the organization.

“We have a responsibility to take care of our airmen and to grow them,” Sicard said. “We have mastered the mission, now we need to focus on the people.”

The change-of-command ceremony symbolizes the transfer of continued responsibilities from one commander to another with no break in command. The ceremony also gives airmen the opportunity to welcome the incoming commander and his family to the unit.

Sicard was previously staff director for the Arkansas Air National Guard at the state’s Joint Force Headquarters at Camp Joseph T. Robinson.

As director, he oversaw the daily operations for the 188th Wing as well as the 189th Airlift Wing and its components.

Working with the previous commander, the Joint Force Headquarters Director of Staff and the Adjutant General, Sicard was also responsible for policies that directed and maintained the programs within the Arkansas Air National Guard.

“The future is bright for the Arkansas Air National Guard,” Sicard said. “We are making ground-breaking strides in cyber operations and training, and moving toward test and evaluation of manned I.S.R. and C-130 formal training efficiencies. Being considered for these mission sets isn’t by chance; it’s because of the exceptional work each and every airman does every day.”

“I’m proud to be a member and honored by the opportunity to lead the exceptional airmen and civilians who continue to answer our nation’s call,” Sicard said.

TOP STORY >> Brown: Ready for many new base missions

Leader senior staff writer

Little Rock Air Force Base, now known as the center of excellence for all things C-130, has not always been devoted to that workhorse air transport, nor will it always be in the future, according to Col. Charles E. Brown, commander of the 19th Airlift Wing and of Little Rock Air Force Base.

“We don’t want to sit back and just say we’re the home of the C-130. We’re very good at what we do, but we see potential for growth in another area that’s synergistic with what we do here,” Brown said.

A look at the static display at Little Rock Air Force Base shows some of the various missions with which the base has been tasked for over the past 61 years, including jets, Titan ICBM missiles, bombers of the Strategic Air Command and, of course, the C-130 Airlifter, Brown said.


Now, LRAFB is one of eight installations under consideration to house the Battlefield Airman program. Whoever gets the new tasking would train airmen to be combat controllers, rescue officers and joint terminal air controllers who call in air strikes from fighters and bombers on behalf of the Army, Marines and Navy.

Whoever gets that training mission will add 200 instructors and train about 1,200 airmen a year, said Brown, who will be reassigned this summer.


Brown said a move to end state income tax on retired military could be beneficial eventually to state revenues by encouraging more to retire here, to local communities that could use people with their skills and to military retirees already in the state.

It’s reportedly in its final form, and could be filed as early as this week.

Two current tasks assigned tenants of the base include helping Air Mobility Command carry U.S. military deploy 10,000 parachutes a month.

Brown said inspectors recently carried out the first cyber inspection in five years at the base.

“The story to be told is that Little Rock will not always be the home of the C-130,” Brown said. “Eventually it will do something else. The caveat is have we done everything we can for laying out the bedrock for what the next mission will be. The National Guard has brought in a cyber mission, we’re looking to do the mission growth on the active duty side for the battlefield airmen—if at some point the C-130 is no longer at Little Rock, it still contributes to national defense.”


Col. Gerald Donohue, 86th Operations Group commander at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, will replace Brown this summer as base commander and commander of the 19th Airlift Wing.

And speaking about the base’s future, Brown said he hadn’t heard any talk about another round of BRAC—base realignment and closure—nor about the future of sequestration, which cut money, and some say readiness, from the nation’s military. A new round of BRAC would strike fear into the hearts of military communities throughout the country, and frequently military druthers fall at the feet of political realities, with final decisions made by congressmen and senators who don’t want bases in their districts cut back or closed.

“We were the only unit in Air Mobility Command to get an ‘excellent’ in our cyber inspection,” Brown added.

ALL C-130Js

“We are finally a C-130J Wing,” he said. While there are legacy-model C-130H aircraft on the base, the 19th is now all C-130J, all of the time.

It has 28 C-130J tails—lingo for aircraft—that satisfies the need for support around the world in military missions, humanitarian missions and training.

The C-130J is the state-of- the-art mid-sized military air transport.

“The H model is no longer in our portfolio,” Brown said.

Looking forward to 2017, Little Rock Air Force Base can expect runway construction for at least another year. In addition to possibly expanding the mission to include the battlefield airman training, new dorms will be opening up, Brown said.

The $117 million runway construction was among the reasons that the base opted to host the Arkansas Military Expo last year, rather than the usual biennial air show.

It was an opportunity to inform Arkansans about all the military installations and components.


“We’ve built that connection with Camp Robinson, Camp Chaffee, the Pine Bluff Arsenal and Guard and Reserve partners in the state,” Brown said. “That’s probably what I’ll leave here happiest (about.)”

The base would like to book the Air Force’s precision flying team, the Thunderbirds, Brown said, for the 2018 air show.

“Our airmen feel the pride of Combat Airlift, and they do their job better day to day,” Brown said. “They connect to the mission. Fighting on behalf of our nation’s defense and other nations’ defense that don’t have the ability to do so themselves.”


Afghanistan’s first female air force pilot, who trained on the C-130H at Little Rock Air Force Base, graduated recently and is now seeking asylum in the U.S.

Capt. Niloofar Rahmani be-came the first woman to earn her wings in Afghanistan’s air force, but repressive forces make it dangerous for her to return to her homeland, she says.

The State Department is her host until the matter of asylum is settled, Brown said.

“She graduated here,” Brown said. “She is a fully qualified C-130-H pilot. The 314th and the 189th trained her,” Brown said. “I believe she is with the State Department.”


Brown said he was proud of the Little Rock airmen. “We care about the airmen and their families,” he said.

“Our airmen feel the pride of combat airlift and they do their job better day to day.

“All you have to do look at the static displays in the airpark to see the history of the base and diverse missions it’s hosted.

“The base has laid a great foundation for a new team to come in and really take Combat Airlift to the next level.”

Although voters approved the Medical Marijuana Act in Arkansas’ November General Election, it won’t affect airmen or other military installations in Arkansas.

“Nothing has been implemented federally, and we are a federal installation,” he said. State level law doesn’t even apply to us. It’s not even a talking point now.”

TOP STORY >> Combat training

19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Airmen lay in the prone position, awaiting commands from the Combat Arms instructor before firing their M4 assault rifle. They control their breathing and push their cheeks against the cold metal while aligning their sight during a Combat Arms Training and Maintenance qualification class.

Line is ready. Fire!

Live rounds are fired at targets as empty casings spill across the concrete.

The smell of spent brass fills the air.

The timer sounds, indicating the end of a firing session.

Cease fire! Cease fire!

Instructors accompany students to their targets to advise them on sight adjustments and shooting techniques.

The military and weapons go hand in hand. For some airmen, their first experience holding one is at basic military training. Yet, weapons training doesn’t end there.

CATM is a qualification course that provides training in the safe handling of weapons and to arm airmen with knowledge for downrange operations as part of Little Rock Air Force Base’s rapid global-mobility mission.

“The goal is to have every airmen know their weapon like the back of their hand,” said Air Force Tech Sgt. Wayne Richard, 19th Security Force Squadron Combat Arms NCO in charge. “We have an extensive lesson plan in the classroom that leads to the shooting range, where they can see everything they were taught be put into place,” he said.

CATM instructors are charged with the responsibilities of training Team Little Rock airmen with weapon safety and shooting procedures.

“If they don’t meet the standards, then we bring them back for a one-on-one session that allows us to break it down even further,” said Air Force Senior Airman Trenton Lloyd, a 19th Security Force Squadron Combat Arms instructor.

The CATM flight trained approximately 650 airmen how to safely fire and maintain a weapon last year, preparing them to protect and defend themselves and their wingmen.

“We’re all responsible for defending wherever we are,” Richard said. “At any time you can get called to pull a weapon system from the armory and man the gate or a defensive fighting position. This training could save their life or others.”

SPORTS STORY >> Clemson clearly better than Bama

Leader sports editor

Most people agree that Monday’s NCAA football national championship game was the best since the inception of the Bowl Championship Series almost two decades ago, and maybe one of the best ever. It’s hard to argue about that when there were three touchdowns in the final 4:38, including the game winner with one second left to play.

What’s not agreed upon is that the best team won. It’s a frivolous argument because it doesn’t matter. Clemson is the national champion despite fan and media pontifications. But let there be no doubt, the Tigers were the better team.

That last touchdown, though controversial, was justice. It meant the better team won the game and the national championship. Alabama’s first touchdown was awarded, rather than earned, and Clemson battled through a -2 turnover deficit. The Tigers outgained Alabama by 135 yards (511-376), nearly doubled the Tide in first downs 31-16, and even did the unprecedented and nearly unthinkable. They controlled the football, keeping possession for 34:44 to Alabama’s 25:16.

Clemson also out gained Alabama in last year’s championship loss, but a -1 turnover deficit and a 95-yard kickoff return given up in the fourth quarter spelled a 45-40 defeat. Special teams is part of the game, and while offenses and defenses were nearly even, Alabama was better on special teams, and that was the difference last year.

This year, the Tigers didn’t finesse their way to a high-scoring victory. They beat Alabama at its own game. They kept it conservative while physically whipping the Tide from the opening kick, and then cruised through Bama’s defense for three easy touchdown drives in the fourth quarter.

The last time a Nick Saban-coached Alabama team lost a two-touchdown or more lead was when it blew a 24-0 lead to Cam Newton and Auburn in the 2010 Iron Bowl. Monday night was the first time a Saban-coached Tide squad ever lost a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter.

Even going into the final 15 minutes, it felt like Clemson should win. It seemed as if the Tigers were making mistakes that stopped themselves, while the Tide offense was fighting and struggling for every first down.

There were mistakes by Bama, big ones. There was one key dropped pass on third and long, and the Tide were called for nine penalties for 82 yards, compared to just three for 35 against Clemson.

That takes us back to two of Clemson’s three fourth-quarter touchdowns. Should they have been penalties?

Yes, and then no.

Clemson’s first short-yardage “pick play” should have been a penalty. The slot receiver engaged the Alabama defender and pushed him backwards into wideout Mike Williams’ defender.

That play, however, was only on second and goal from the 4. Clemson may very well have scored anyway.

The game winner was not a penalty, and was the perfect call for the situation. It appeared as though Saban was implementing a wily old strategy to just tackle all of Clemson’s receivers.

It would have resulted in a penalty and moved the ball half the distance to the goal, but it would’ve left Clemson with time for just one more play, and coach Dabo Swinney with a decision to make between going for the win, or kicking a field goal and playing overtime.

Instead, Clemson anticipated the defense and called “the rub route.”

Alabama defensive back Marlon Humphrey himself engaged Clemson receiver Artavis Scott, with the apparent purpose to just tackle him and not let him catch the ball.

Slot receiver Hunter Renfrow made that impossible for his man, Tony Brown. His sharply diagonal route forced Brown to run around the Humphrey-Scott collision, which rendered him incapable of covering Renfrow, who was wide open for the touchdown.

In short, Saban was out-foxed by “The Dab man”.

It was a perfect ending for how the game played out. There was one matchup that still seemed even, and that was coaching. The last play was one side outcoaching the other, and the best team, in every aspect, won.

SPORTS STORY >> Badgers hot in second

Leader sports editor

The Beebe boys’ basketball team took charge late in the second quarter and never trailed in the second half of a 60-53 victory over Searcy at Badger Arena on Saturday.

The Badgers’ second quarter outburst in the final three minutes came in response to coach Ryan Marshall’s impassioned speech during a timeout. The timeout was called after Beebe had squandered a nine-point first-quarter lead.

The Badgers jumped ahead 15-6 in the first quarter after senior Grant Brown came off the bench for back-to-back 3-pointers. Beebe was holding for the last shot when Searcy’s Malik Branch stepped into the passing lane at the top of the key and hit a layup to make it 15-8 just before the buzzer ended the quarter.

The Lions (6-9, 0-1) then scored the first 12 points of the second quarter to take a 20-15 lead with 4:05 left in the first half.

That’s when Marshall called his second timeout, and expressed his dissatisfaction with how his team was playing.

“I thought that one possession when they beat us back on transition, we were loafing,” said Marshall. “We just lost concentration and focus and I thought they needed to be challenged. I thought they responded. I thought the last two minutes were great. We got a steal, got some energy going, got another one. We went several minutes before that without scoring, but we turned that around really well.”

Brad Worthington broke the scoring drought with a short jumper that made it 20-17 with 3:12 left in the half. It was the first two points of a 17-1 Beebe run to close the second quarter.

Worthington then converted a 3-point play and sophomore point guard Jace Shillcut hit a 3-pointer for a 23-20 Beebe lead with 1:42 left. Branch got the line and hit 1 of 2 foul shots for Searcy’s only point in the last four minutes of the half. Brown then made his third 3-pointer of the game for a 26-21 Beebe lead with 1:20 to play.

Brown then stole a Searcy pass and hit Worthington in transition for a layup. The final minute of the half was all Bradley Worthington.

He took a charge with 50 seconds to go, and put back a teammate’s miss with 14 seconds left. Worthington finished the half with a steal at halfcourt and a transition layup to send the Badgers into the locker room with a 32-21 lead.

Beebe’s lead was 36-24 with five minutes to go in the third quarter. That’s when Searcy mounted its comeback attempt. The Lions were within 44-37 by the end of the third, and then scored the first four points of the fourth to pull within 44-41 with 7:15 left in the game.

K.J. O’Neill answered with a 3-point for Beebe, but Searcy scored the next four points to make it 47-45 with 6:14 remaining. Searcy had two possessions to tie, but missed two shots from the floor, and the front end of a 1-and-1 trip to the line.

Beebe (6-9, 2-0) had no such trouble from the free-throw line down the stretch. The Badgers went 11 for 11 from the line in the final five minutes.

It started with Trey Williams making a pair with 4:48 to go for a 49-45 lead. Branch answered for Searcy with 4:30 to go to again make it a two-point game. Worthington then converted a 3-point play for Beebe’s last field goal of the game with 4:16 remaining. Branch then shot an air ball that went out of bounds, but Michael Money got a steal and made two free throws to pull Searcy to within one possession.

Worthington made two foul shots with 3:10 to go for a five-point lead, and Searcy never got closer.

The win was a crucial one for Beebe for a pair of reasons. The Badgers had lost three straight, including their conference opener at Greenbrier, a team they had beaten earlier in the season. It was also important to not start 0-2 in the 5A/6A North-Central Conference.

“Conference not as much, but we had lost three straight and we were struggling,” Marshall said. “But we didn’t want to get off to an 0-2 start for sure.”

Beebe shot 38.4 percent from the floor (20 of 52) including 5 of 10 from 3-point range. Brown hitting three-straight early in the game played a big role in the outcome.

“It’s very important (for Brown to shoot well),” Marshall said. “He opens up lanes for K.J. He opens up the post for Bradley. It’s kind of been hit or miss with him this year, but when he’s on it’s a huge help.”

Worthington turned in a monstrous performance. The 6-foot-3-post player scored 27 points and had 11 rebounds, and made 9 of 10 free-throw attempts. Brown finished with 13 points for Beebe while O’Neill had nine.

Money led Searcy with 14 points while Julius Cooperwood added 12 for the Lions.

Saturday’s game was a makeup of the game canceled the day before because of snow. The Badgers hosted Vilonia on Tuesday and will keep it local against Mountain Home on Friday.

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot team dominates swim meet

Leader sports editor

The Cabot boys won seven events and the Lady Panthers won five as the Panther teams turned in dominant performances in the Cabot Classic Swim Meet last Thursday at Veterans Park Community Center in Cabot.

Cabot’s Tristen Bowen and Alex Layman tied for top point getters; each contributing 60 for the Panthers in their nearly 400-point win. Melanie Abbott led the Cabot ladies and everyone else with 56 total points in the girls’ competition.

The team scores weren’t close. The Lady Panthers finished with 625 points to just 276 for second-place Pocahontas. Sylvan Hills was third with 172. Russellville finished fourth with 169 and Batesville rounded out the top five of 11 competing teams with 160 points.

The top two teams in boys’ competition were the same, and so was the margin in the seven-team field. Cabot piled up 634 points to Pocahontas’ 287. Batesville took third with 244. Lonoke finished fourth with 183 and Russellville was fifth with 109. Sylvan Hills had 58 and Maumelle 40.

Both Cabot teams lost a lot of key contributors from last year’s conference champions, but head coach Brian Bowen thinks the future is bright.

“We don’t have a lot of those super strong seniors we had a year ago,” Bowen said. “But our younger kids have a lot of potential. Our sophomore class is going to be really good. In a couple of years, we’ll be competing for a state championship.”

The Cabot girls’ dominance was established early with eight of their swimmers finishing first and second in the 200-yard medley relay to start the meet. Jordan Godbee, Shea Copeland, Abbott and Abigail Breedlove took first place with a cruising time of 2:04.97. It was 10 seconds slower than their seed time, but still good enough to win by almost 12 seconds. The second-place team was Emily Lynch, Samantha Scott, Izzy Dulin and Sharidan Mitchell.

That top-two finish was a quick 74 points for the Lady Panthers, and a third Cabot team added 24 more by finishing seventh, for 98 points after just one event.

Abbott then won the 50-yard freestyle race over Sylvan Hills’ Rebecca Vandervate and Carlisle’s Tristan Bennett. Abbott’s time of 28.09 beat Vandervate by 1.8 seconds, while Bennett finished in 30.52. Samantha Scott added another 15 points to Cabot’s total by finishing fourth.

Dulin won the grueling 500-yard freestyle by just 2.56 seconds over Batesville’s Katie Curse. Dulin didn’t have to push herself, finishing almost 16 seconds behind her seedtime with a 6:13.60. Dena Hallum finished third in that event for Cabot while Bennett was fourth for Carlisle.

Cabot then swept the top three spots in the 100-yard freestyle. Copeland dominated the race with a winning time of 1:17.34. Scott and Holly Boehm were second and third with times of 1:25.89 and 1:29.71.

Scott, Copeland, Dulin and Breedlove also won the 400-yard freestyle by more than 20 seconds over Batesville. Caitlynn West, Savannah Gilmore, Lynch and Hallum took third in that event for another 32 points for the Lady Panthers.

The Lady Panthers also had second-place finishes in the 200-yard freestyle, the 200-yard freestyle relay and the girls’ 100-yard backstroke. Dulin was second behind Searcy’s Erin McGuirt in the freestyle. She didn’t compete in the relay, but the team of West, Mitchell, Gilmore and Scott still finished behind Pocahontas in the relay. Breedlove and Godbee were second and third in the backstroke.

The boys also started strong by winning the 200-yard medley relay. Bowen, Jason Bongfeldt, Layman and Chose Foiles combined to go 12 seconds faster than Pocahontas with a 1:50.32.

Bowen then won the next boys’ event, the 200-yard freestyle, by an astonishing 40 seconds. His time of 1:57.25 beat Sylvan Hills’ Chris Greater’s 2:37.10. Cabot had six of the top eight finishers in the race for a total of 89 points from that single event.

Layman later led a quartet of Panthers atop the 100-yard butterfly standings. Layman was the only swimmer to finish in less than a minute, beating his seedtime by .14 with a time of 57.63. J.D. Lindsey was second with a time of 1:02.12. Dylan Worden took third and Barrett Campbell was fourth.

Cabot’s Calum Young beat four Lonoke Jackrabbits in the 100-yard freestyle. Calum’s 1:02.29 just edged out Lonoke’s Jimmy Evans’ 1:02.76. Jackrabbits Peyton Blackard, Colton Tidwell and Tanner Edwards rounded out the top five in that event.

The team of Layman, Foiles, Bongfeldt and Bowen won the 200-yard freestyle by nearly nine seconds with a time of 1:41.05.

The Panthers then swept the last two events, and did so in dominant fashion. Bowen led a Cabot sweep of the top three spots in the 100-yard backstroke. His 58.10 bested Foiles and Bongfeldt. Alex Layman and Thomas Layman then took the to two spots in the 100-yard breaststroke. Alex won by nearly 13 seconds with a time of 1:06.26.

Another local standout performance was Lonoke’s Kayla McGee. She won the girls’ 100-yard butterfly with a time of 1:02.06, beating Breedlove by 2.35 seconds. McGee also finished second to McGuirt in the 200-IM.

The Cabot teams travel for a meet in El Dorado on Thursday.

SPORTS STORY >> Beebe smothers Searcy

Leader sports editor 

What started as an up-and-down affair eventually developed into a style more suiting for Beebe coach Greg Richey, as his Lady Badgers defeated Searcy 47-34 on Saturday at Badger Arena.

Richey has what he believes is a very strong defensive team, and has set a goal each game of allowing fewer than 40 points. Even though his team was ahead, that defensive goal was in jeopardy when the first quarter ended 19-15. Beebe (12-4, 2-0) had led 15-4 with 3:30 remaining in the opening quarter, but Searcy closed with an 11-2 run that left Richey unhappy.

“That (allowing fewer than 40 points) is our goal every night, and I asked them how they were going to do that giving up 15 every quarter,” said Richey. “We did the same thing, gave up 16 at Greenbrier the other night, and then held them to about the same thing we did here. Once we settled down we did all right.”

Beebe was hot from outside in the early going. Senior Hannah Camp and junior Libbie Hill each hit a pair of 3-pointers, and Hill added a 3-point play for Beebe’s big early advantage.

Searcy’s Allie Brown then began to answer. She hit back-to-back 3-pointers and added her own 3-point play to lead the Lady Lions’ charge back.

Hill scored the last shot of the first quarter, but despite her 13 points, Richey wasn’t entirely pleased.

“She (Brown) didn’t score a three the whole tournament here over Christmas,” Richey said. “I asked Libbie, ‘can you not guard her any better than that?’ She said, ‘yes, I can guard her better than that.’ And she did.”

The head Badger left just one starter on the floor to start the second quarter, sophomore guard Marianna Richey. The bench played a key role in changing the tone and pace of the game. Though not as adept of a lineup for scoring, Lady Badger backups made offense nearly impossible for Searcy. Five minutes into the second period, Beebe had outscored Searcy 4-2, and eventually took a 27-21 lead into the locker room at halftime.

The starters were back on the floor to start the second half, and they picked up where teammates left off in the second quarter. Beebe forced four turnovers on Searcy’s first four possessions, and stretched the lead to 33-21 with 5:58 on the clock.

Searcy (6-9, 0-1) closed that gap to 37-29 by the end of the period, but Beebe’s defense was too strong. The Lady Lions never got any closer than that eight-point margin in the fourth quarter.

The defense was especially needed on a night when the Lady Badgers didn’t shoot well. Beebe did make 6 of 12 from 3-point range, but were just 8 for 27 (29.6 percent) from inside the arc. The Lady Badgers also only made 13 of 26 free throws.

“Our shooting from the free-throw line was not good,” Richey said. “We can’t do that. We’ve been shooting free throws better than that, and struggling from the floor. The other night (at Greenbrier) we shot better from the floor, and we’ve been shooting better in practice.

“It’s like the beginning of the game. We’re getting out better offensively, but not playing defense as well. I think we get a mindset of just wanting to get up and down the floor and shoot it. But we’ve got to do a little better than that. We just have to get it all together. We’ll do a couple things well and couple not so well. If we can get it all together, I think we can contend for a top spot.”

Beebe hosted Vilonia on Tuesday, and will make it three-straight conference home games on Friday against Russellville.