Saturday, November 17, 2012

SPORTS STORY >> Falcons earn opening win at Robinson

Leader sports editor

North Pulaski’s boys opened their season with a victory on the road Tuesday. The Falcons beat Joe T. Robinson 68-49 thanks to a big fourth-quarter run that put the game away.

North Pulaski stormed out of the gate and grabbed a quick double digit lead. The Falcons led 20-9 after one quarter and 40-28 at halftime, but the Senators came back to close the gap to as little as four in the third quarter. The Falcons led 50-44 at the end of three, then turned up the heat again to pull away for the win. Leading 56-49, the Falcons went on a 12-0 run to close the game and set the final margin.

“It’s always good to get a win the first time out the gate,” North Pulaski coach Roy Jackson said. “We played well at times but we’re still trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together. There were some lapses in the middle of the game you don’t want to see continue. But any win is a good win, so we’ll take it.”

One of the key areas of concern was early foul trouble for the Falcons. Jackson doesn’t see that as a long-term concern.

“We were overly aggressive, trapping and just reaching a lot. That’s typical early on in season. When you’re practicing you don’t call fouls and you just let them be aggressive. Now they have to adjust to how those will be called in the game.

“We also have a lot of football boys that have just come over recently. We have to get them in basketball shape and teach them what’s going on. It’s a learning process early but there was more good than bad.”

Two newcomers led the Falcon rally in the fourth quarter. Junior guard Joe Aikens, who transferred this year from Jacksonville, led the Falcons with 19 points while freshman point guard RaShawn Langston dropped in 16.

“He didn’t look like a freshman out there,” Jackson said of Langston. “He showed some poise, played smart and took care of the basketball.”

SPORTS STORY >> Carlisle eliminates Warriors again

Leader sportswriter

LEPANTO – Deron Ricks turned into a wrecking ball during the second half of Carlisle’s 37-26 victory over East Poinsett County in the second round of the Class 2A state playoffs on Friday.

Ricks made it into the end zone only once with 5:18 left to play to give the Bison (10-1) a 37-20 lead, but the junior running back kept the Bison going all night with 17 carries for 176 yards, including a number of runs of more than 20 yards in the second half with multiple Warrior defenders trying to drag him down.

With the victory, the Bison will return home for the quarterfinal round this Friday with a home game against Mineral Springs, a 48-8 second-round winner over Poyen. The victory over the Warriors marked the third straight year Carlisle has knocked them out of the playoffs.

“These guys have fought us the past two years for 48 minutes,” Carlisle coach Scott Waymire said. “We knew they were going to fight us again for 48 minutes. That’s what we told the kids. We’re going to be in for a fight, and that’s what our guys did. They fought and made some big plays when they had to, and I’m very proud of our team as a whole. Getting to play after Thanksgiving is always a good thing.”

The Warriors (10-2) kept pace with Carlisle until late in the third quarter. EPC scored on its first drive of the second half when junior running back Trevor McDaniel ran for a 2-yard touchdown at the 6:42 mark of the third quarter. The Warriors missed the two-point conversion try, leaving the Bison with a 22-20 lead.

Carlisle came back with an 8-yard scoring drive that ended with a 12-yard touchdown run by junior Justice Bryant. Then, the Bison caught a break when quarterback Chris Hart bobbled the snap on the extra-point attempt by Ricks. Hart rolled out and Ricks went into an impromptu route, catching the pass and crossing the goal line to put Carlisle up 30-20.

“That’s our fire call,” Waymire said. “If we get a bad snap, that’s what we work on. We never want those to happen, but we rep those. It was a matter of execution, and Chris and Deron did their job. The line held out long enough for us to get that throw off.”

Hart was fairly quiet most of the night from a big-play standpoint, completing only one pass to junior Austin Reed for a 21-yard gain to give the Bison a first and goal at the EPC 2-yard line. Hart called his own number on the next play for the score to give Carlisle a 14-8 lead with 9:05 left to play in the first half.

“He’s a senior who has played a lot of football,” Waymire said. “He’s been starting and on the field either on offense or defense since he was a sophomore. Those guys are big-time players because they have played. They step up and make plays, and he did that tonight.”

The most demoralizing moment of the night for the Warrior defense came with less than nine minutes remaining when Ricks took a second-down handoff from Hart and went 23-yards, pushing three EPC defenders down field along with him as they attempted to get a handle on him. Four plays later, he busted a 22-yard run for Carlisle’s final score.

“He’s a big-time player,” Waymire said. “People know who he is now. I don’t think people truly knew who he was last year, but he’s a player. We’ve got a lot of players, but I’m very proud of Deron Ricks tonight.”

Bryant scored Carlisle’s first touchdown on a 40-yard run down the left side at the 9-minute mark of the first quarter. Ricks ran in the two-point conversion play to give the Bison an early 8-0 lead.

Hart scored on short keepers for the Bison’s next two touchdowns to give the Bison a 22-14 lead at the half.

Bryant rushed 15 times for 79 yards and two touchdowns, as the Bison finished with 288 yards of total offense.

For the Warriors, McDaniel led the way with 16 carries for 88 yards. EPC finished with 231 yards.

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Red Devils ease past Tigers

Leader sports editor

A bit of patience may have made things easier, but the Jacksonville Lady Red Devils still got the job done Thursday in the third-place game of the Little Rock Invitational at Hall High School. Jacksonville beat Little Rock Central 51-47 in overtime to improve to 2-1 after beating Bauxite and losing to Hall earlier in the week.

Central’s ball pressure, led by athletic defender Jamie Ruffin who was tasked with guarding Jacksonville point guard Shakyla Hill, kept the Lady Red Devils from getting into their sets on offense. When they did break the pressure, they hurried shots for much of the game.

“We have to be more patient on offense when we get in a halfcourt situation,” Jacksonville coach Katrina Mimms said. “Central did a good job on defense and really disrupted what we were trying to do. But we still had some opportunities we didn’t take advantage of. We rushed a lot of shots and didn’t wait for something to open up.”

The tournament format may have also played a role in Jacksonville’s hurriedness. The tournament was played with a college-like clock. There were two 16-minute halves instead of four quarters, and there was a 30-second shot clock that Jacksonville ran down to zero on its first possession without taking a shot.

That was never a factor the rest of the way.

Late in the second half with Jacksonville leading 40-39, the Lady Tigers began to double team Jacksonville’s Jessica Jackson, even away from the ball, denying her any touches. Post player Markela Bryles picked up the slack for the Lady Devils. Bryles made two free throws to make it 42-39 with 2:30 remaining. Central’s Taylor Lewis nailed a three pointer to tie the game 30 seconds later. After two turnovers by each team, Lewis hit another three, this one from about 25 feet to give the Lady Tigers a 45-42 lead with 42 seconds left in regulation.

Bryles was fouled at the other end and hit one of two free throws, then Jacksonville caught a huge break. An official collided with Ruffin as she dribbled away from Jacksonville’s full-court pressure. Ruffin fell and the referee called her for traveling with 30 seconds remaining. Ten seconds later, Bryles hit a shot from the lane to tie the game and send it to overtime.

Bryles’ five points to end regulation started an 11-3 run by Jacksonville that Jackson finished in overtime. The senior Razorback-commit scored all six points for the Lady Red Devils in overtime. She gave Jacksonville a 51-45 lead with 1:20 left with a steal and a layup. Ruffin added two free throws with 30 seconds left in overtime but the Lady Tigers got no closer.

“Central’s an improved team and they’re very athletic,” Mimms said. “I hope we can learn from games like this. Teams are going to do what they did and try to keep Jessica away from the ball all season long. It was big to have a player like Markela step up like she did. She hadn’t been making free throws like she did tonight. If some more people can be a threat to score like that it will take a lot of pressure off Jessica and open things up for everybody.”

Despite the constant double team, Jackson led all scorers with 17 points. Bryles finished with 15, including nine free throws in 10 attempts. Bryles also made it a double-double by recording 11 rebounds. Jackson had nine. Lewis led Central with 15 points while Ruffin added 12. On the negative side, Jacksonville was 0 for 10 from three-point range and committed 29 turnovers.

The Lady Red Devils are back in action on Nov. 27 when they travel to North Little Rock to take on the Charging Lady Wildcats.

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot’s defense stymies Chapel

Leader sports editor

Cabot’s biggest lead was six points, and that was just two minutes into the game. But Watson Chapel led for just a few seconds in the third quarter and couldn’t otherwise break the Lady Panthers’ tenuous control of the game. The result was a hard-fought 40-36 victory for the Cabot ladies Wednesday in the semifinals of the Heavenly Hoops Classic at Mount St. Mary’s Academy.

Sophomore Alyssa Hamilton paced Cabot with 16 points, including 14 in the second half. She also had 11 rebounds for her first career double-double.

“She doesn’t take bad shots and she runs the floor well,” Cabot assis tant coach Charles Ruple said. “Most of her shots were open layups that me and you could make. The difference is she can get there to take those shots. She knows the offense well and she got where she needed to be to help us out tonight.”

The key stretch of the game came after Watson Chapel cut the margin to 34-33 with 2:55 remaining in the game.

The two teams traded a few fruitless possessions before Cabot scored four points in rapid succession with just more than a minute remaining.

Cabot point guard Jaylin Bridges air balled a three-point attempt, but teammate Ally Van Enk chased the ball down before it went out of bounds. With one foot in bounds and the other in the air, Van Enk made a no-look pass to Hamilton under the basket for an open layup and a 36-33 lead.

Hamilton then made a steal on the baseline at the other end of the floor, made an outlet pass to Van Enk. Van Enk threw to Ryan Wilson, who hit Hamilton trailing the play for another layup that gave Cabot a 38-33 lead with 1:08 left to play.

It proved a huge series because Chapel scored three points on its next possession to make it 38-36 with 57 seconds remaining, but failed to score the rest of the way.

“I thought Ally made the difference with that rebound and assist she made,” Ruple said. “Not only did she chase down that rebound, she was able to make a great pass. That was great presence of mind.”

Hamilton wasn’t the only Lady Panther that struggled to score in the first half. Cabot bolted out to a quick 8-2 lead against Chapel’s man pressure. The Lady Wildcats switched to a zone defense in the second quarter and stopped the Lady Panthers in their tracks.

Cabot led 15-11 at the end of the first quarter, but managed just one free throw and no field goals in the second period. Cabot had just eight shot attempts in the second, missing them all.

The defense stayed strong and allowed Chapel just one field goal, a three pointer by reserve guard Megan Moore. Despite the offensive struggles, Cabot’s defense preserved a 16-15 lead at intermission.

“She made some calculated substitutions that really gave us trouble in the second quarter,” Ruple said of Watson Chapel coach Leslie Henderson. “She pulled out a guard and put a 6-1 post player in there along with her 6-foot starter. She went big and she went zone and they did a nice job with it.”

Cabot made adjustments at halftime and the teams battled the rest of the way. Wilson, a sophomore guard, played in place of senior Abbey Allgood, partially due to Allgood’s foul trouble, but also in an attempt to counter Chapel’s size with quickness.

“Ryan played really well,” Ruple said. “She defended well and she came through with a couple of good passes in the fourth quarter that ended up being big layups when we needed it.”

Cabot maintained a two-to-five-point lead for most of the second half, until 6-footer Kamera Bozeman made it 34-33 with 2:55 remaining, setting up Cabot’s quick four points that sealed the game.

The Lady Panthers will face North Little Rock at 2:30 p.m. today in the tournament championship game. The Charging Lady Wildcats beat defending class 4A champion Star City 45-38 in their semifinal game.

SPORTS STORY >> Wildcats too good for Cabot

Leader sports editor

Cabot coach Mike Malham summed it up.

“They’re good,” he said of North Little Rock. They’ve got seniors at every position, size, speed. Basically they just wore us out in that second half. There’s not much you can say. They’re just better.”

Those comments came minutes after the clock ran out on North Little Rock’s 28-0 victory over Malham’s Panthers in the quarterfinals of the class 7A state playoffs Friday night at North Little Rock Stadium. It was the second meeting between the two teams and the second time the Charging Wildcats dominated the last half of the game.

North Little Rock led just 7-0 at halftime on Friday, scoring on the third of five drives.

But the second half was all North Little Rock. Cabot (7-5) did not even get a first down in the second half until its last drive that ran out the clock. The Panthers’ three drives in the third quarter were a combined nine plays, zero yards and three punts.

Conversely, North Little Rock (10-1) couldn’t be stopped, scoring on the first three of its four drives. The final drive halted at the goal line when sophomore defensive back Jake Ferguson got his second interception of the game and returned it to the 4-yard line.

Cabot managed 102 yards rushing in the first half, but totaled 49 yards in the second half, with 41 coming on the last drive.

“We got in some different fronts defensively,” North Little Rock coach Brad Bolding said. “We did some stuff they hadn’t seen in a couple years. We started slanting on defense. That’s a really good football team we just played and we held them to no score. I’m really proud of the way the guys battled.”

North Little Rock compiled 170 yards of offense in the first half, but found the going tough early on. The Wildcats showed two new plays. One came on the first play of the game when senior running back Altee Tenpenny attempted a halfback pass. Everything about the play worked perfectly except the throw. Receiver Aaron Adams was running alone down the sidelines, but Tenpenny, showing a surprisingly strong arm, overthrew the sprinting receiver by about eight yards.

That drive went three and out, and North Little Rock’s second drive picked up 50 yards before stalling at the Cabot 28 on downs.

Things got going on the Wildcats’ third drive. Tenpenny picked up 11 yards on first down and 14 on second down to move the ball to the 46-yard line. Two plays later on third and 7, fullback Deion Tidwell took a screen pass from Payton Holmes 22 yards to the 29-yard line. On the next play, junior running back Juan Day rumbled up the middle for 29 yards and the score to make it 7-0 with 9:54 left in the first half.

Neither team moved the ball much the rest of the half, before the Wildcats’ domination began in the third quarter.

After holding Cabot to three and out on the opening possession of the half, North Little Rock went 77 yards in 12 plays, converting on third down three times along the way. The key play came on third and 16 from the Cabot 30-yard line. Holmes dropped back as if to pass, but handed off to Tenpenny, who went 22 yards on the draw play.

Adams scored two plays later on third and goal from the 6 on an inverted wide-receiver screen. Sandy Burks’ extra point made it 14-0 with 6:28 left in the third quarter.

After another three and out by Cabot, North Little Rock scored despite 46 yards in penalties on the drive. Starting from their own 40, the Wildcats were called for two penalties on first down. The first was a 10-yard spot foul for an illegal block that happened 7 yards behind the line of scrimmage.

They were also called for a personal foul at the end of the play. It set up first and 42 from the 8-yard line, but the Wildcats’ converted it easily. Tidwell took another inside screen 16 yards on first down, and Juan Day barreled ahead for 27 yards on second down to set up first down at the Cabot 47. On the next play, Tenpenny was called for a personal foul when he kicked a Cabot defender in the face trying to hurdle the tackler in the open field. The gain was 1 yard, so the penalty set up first and 24 from the North Little Rock 39. Still, it was a small matter for the rolling home team. Day got six yards on first down. Rodney Bryson called a Holmes pass for 17 yards on second down, and Day got 8 more on third down to set up first down at the Cabot 30. Day, Tidwell, Tenpenny and Bryson each got carries from there, with Tenpenny gaining the last 11 yards for the score with 1:04 left in the third.

The last touchdown drive went 51 yards in six plays with Day chewing up the last 28 yards on carries of 17 and 11. His second touchdown of the game made set the final margin with 9:57 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Offensively we were able to wear them down,” Bolding said. “Cabot’s a good football team, they’re a lot better than the last time we played them. We really worked this week with our defensive ends trying to shove and close and keep them off our linebackers. Cabot did a good job the first time we played of getting some good hits actually on our linebackers. Those guys have been talking all week. They really wanted to come in tonight and have a big game.”

Tenpenny led all rushers with 141 yards on 16 carries. Day finished with 121 yards on 13 carries. North Little Rock finished with 425 total yards of offense. Quarterbacks Holmes and Heath Land combined for 138 yards passing.

North Little Rock will host Fayetteville at 7 p.m. next Friday at North Little Rock Stadium. The Bulldogs beat Conway 38-17 on Friday. The other semifinal game will be between Bentonville and Fort Smith Southside. Bentonville beat West Memphis 42-0 while Southside beat Spring-dale Har-Ber 24-22.

Friday, November 16, 2012

EDITORIAL >> Things we’ve wished for

Where are the speed traps when we need them?

Last Sunday morning, sometime around 2 a.m., an automobile failed to negotiate the curve just south of Amy Lane on Harris Road in Jacksonville, plowing into a utility pole and slicing it, not very neatly, into three pieces. Luckily, the pole remained partially suspended, although the power lines drooped alarmingly. Miraculously, power was not cut, but the vehicle ignited. According to neighbors, the driver, Ricky Healy, 23, of Blytheville, appeared stunned but managed to get out of the vehicle unharmed. He was later charged with possession of marijuana. The incident report says he fell asleep at the wheel.

Speeding is commonplace on Harris Road and this was the fourth accident on that curve in recent memory. One was a daytime collision in which the driver was returning from picking up something to eat from Simply Delicious, the North Pulaski High School gourmet luncheonette.

Two others occurred during the wee hours of the morning. In the first, a driver plowed into the yard and house of an elderly couple. Fortunately, they were not injured, but the house needed repairs.

In the second, a young adult who’d imbibed one too many plowed into a yard across the street at Harris and Amy Lane, damaging several trees along with his truck.

Healy probably would have plowed into a home on Harris except for the pole and a strategically placed boulder.

Traffic surveillance on Harris Road is mostly limited to early weekday mornings when those who are late for school can sometimes be caught speeding. For two mornings after the accident that totaled the utility pole, a police car was strategically posted at the entrance to the Pennpointe subdivision, purportedly to catch speeders, who abound on the road.

Residents there say they’ve asked the city to consider installing speed bumps. We think that’s a good idea and it’s high time for such a measure. Let’s not wait for serious injury or a fatality before putting a plan into action.

The planned round-about at Harris and Main might also be helpful, but it seems that speeders see Harris as a thoroughfare to be sped through. The absence of surveillance almost makes that a no-brainer.

Cities along Hwy. 67 south of Pine Bluff once kept their coffers full with speed traps, but a state law prohibited cities from basing their budgets on how much they collected by ticketing.

By the way, utility companies worked on the fractured pole for the next four days. Who pays for that work? Is it factored into our utility rates or will the fellow who hit the pole have to make reparations? If so, that will be to the tune of many thousands of dollars.

TOP STORY >> Drug ring busted after 17 arrests

A man from the Austin area and believed to be the head of a large-scale meth operation working between Texas and central Arkansas has been indicted on federal charges and arrested along with 16 others.

Tarik Bouhamidi, 46, formerly of Jacksonville, had been under investigation since July 2011 when he was arrested earlier this week.

Officials say he was buying meth from Johnny Ybarra of Dallas and that he used several hired couriers to bring the drugs to Arkansas for distribution.

Also indicted were Gary Wayne Alvey, 53, of Morrilton; Amy Beth Dodd, 31, of Little Rock; Randy Eakle, age unknown; Bryan Louis Embry, 49, Atkins; Fred W. Lauderdale, 46, Maumelle; Steven Lynn Goodman, 45, Beebe; Harold David (Doc) Holladay, 47, Little Rock; Terry Wayne Leggitt, 43, Houston, Texas; Sonia Kay Potter, 47, Jacksonville; Jeremy Gradden Putt, 42, Benton, and Joseph Paul Setvin Jr., 44, Jacksonville.

Also Scottie Edwin Sisney, 40, Atkins; Kaylea Lynn Sontag, 32, England; Lesia Carol Southerland, 47, Lonoke; Rodney Lynn Spradlin, 36, England; Stacye Rochelle Strickland, 42, Little Rock; Tammy Kasandra Lauderdale, 46, Maumelle; Christopher Eric Vires, 33, Lonoke; Larry Joe Williams, 62, Morrilton; Christopher Eric Vires, 33, Lonoke; Lesia Carol Southerland, 47, Lonoke, and Christopher Eric Vires, 33, Lonoke.

Three more arrests are expected.

The investigation ended with the Nov. 6 indictment of Bouhamidi, Ybarra and 19 others for various drug and weapons charges.

So far, search and seizure warrants have netted $66,000 in cash, other assets valued at about $10,000, two and one-half pounds of meth, nine vehicles (including two tractor-trailer rigs) and two firearms.

The investigation was carried out by an organized crime drug enforcement task force sponsored by the Drug Enforcement Administration with members from DEA and drug task force officers from Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department, North Little Rock Police Department, Benton Police Department, Arkansas State Police and Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department.

Also involved in the investigation were the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Internal Revenue Service, the Arkansas National Guard, the Little Rock Police Department, the Jacksonville Police Department, the Lonoke Sheriff’s Office and the Sherwood Police Department.

TOP STOY >> Lonoke County GOP seeks to oust Pedersen

Leader staff writer

One of the original Lonoke County Republicans is calling for former JP Bill “Pete” Pedersen’s removal from the party.

Jim Fuller, who in 1983 was one of two known Republicans in Lonoke County, said Friday that Pedersen is carrying on a personal vendetta against two members of the Lonoke County Republican Committee that he helped found, JPs Henry Lang and Larry Odom.

Fuller said ousting Pedersen would end some of the division on the committee that is keeping many Republicans away.

“Dissension hurts our image,” Fuller said. “What I did wasn’t meant to be vindictive, but it’s the only way I feel we can move on.”

Fuller’s letter, accusing Pedersen of character assassination and harassing a committee member while he was campaigning, went to Lucas Minton, chairman of the Lonoke County Republican Committee.

Minton said Pedersen will be allowed to choose two of the committee members who will investigate the charges and he will choose the third.

The charges will likely be dismissed just like the charges against Lang and Odom, he said.

Complaints against those two Republicans that could have ended in their removal from the committee were dismissed about a week ago.

They were accused of working against the interests of the committee. Specifically, Lang was accused of campaigning for candidates for the Cabot City Council who weren’t members of the Lonoke County Republican Committee.

Odom was accused of refusing to rent billboards to Republican candidates for county office.

Contacted Friday afternoon, Pedersen said he learned about Fuller’s letter on Thursday, but he was occupied with the death of a close friend and did not have time to respond to questions until next week.

Pedersen was arrested Nov. 2 after Lang filed a complaint with the county sheriff, saying Pedersen drove his car to within inches of where he was sitting at the Cabot City Annex during early voting, blew the horn, cursed him and made obscene gestures.

Pedersen was released from custody without bond that same afternoon. Lang filed another complaint with city officials the next morning, saying Pedersen threatened him.

District Judge Teresa Hughes of Beebe has been appointed to hear those complaints in Cabot District Court.

Hughes also has signed a no-contact order against Pedersen that Lang requested.

TOP STORY >> Jacksonville to tear down homes

Leader staff writer

Eight structures were on Jacksonville’s condemnation list and after a 20-minute debate Thursday, the aldermen decided to remove one property, giving the owner until mid-March 2013 to get the home up to code.

Only two owners attended the council meeting and public hearing to plead their cases.

Tim Curtis asked the council to give him 30 days to completely remove the unsafe and unsanitary mobile home that was on his property at 1404 Stamps. Curtis didn’t want to lose the land.

City Attorney Robert Bamburg told the council that the ordinance condemning the properties gave owners 30 days to come into compliance or remove the structures so the trailer didn’t have to be removed from the list.

The other owner who argued for a break on his house at 119 Roosevelt Road was Duane Hall. He had received a building permit from the city to rehab the house and had spent the last two weeks working on it. Aldermen Bill Howard was unmoved, stating the house had been vacant for four to five years and in horrible disrepair. “I don’t think it’s worth fixing,” Howard said.

But Hall insisted he was making progress and planned to get it up to code and sell it.

Most council members agreed with Howard that the home wasn’t worth saving, but felt they had to give Hall time because the city had given him a permit already.

Director of Administration Jim Durham promised the council that Hall getting a permit was a fluke that would be taken care of. “We’ll put into place a system that both the city engineer and code enforcement need to check off any rehab or remodeling permit to make sure we don’t have any action against the property,” Durham said.

The council voted 9-1 to condemn residential structures at 114 Roosevelt Circle, 606 Marion, 170 Pike Avenue, 1018 Ray Road, 1404 Stamps Road, 300 N. Elm Road and the commercial property at 111 N. James St.

That property is the old Church’s Chicken next to the new McDonald’s.

Code-enforcement officer Charlie Jenkins investigated the condition of the defunct chicken restaurant, found black rust, broken pipes and beams and mummified chicken parts on the rooftop.

Related to the condemnations, the council approved placing a total of $48,395 worth of liens on 69 properties for work the city has done to curb the unsafe conditions. Mostly the fees are for mowing grass or tearing down structures. The liens run from $5,863 to $154.

In other business:

n In his monthly report to the council, Police Chief Gary Sipes said his department responded to 3,981 calls during October and made 377 arrests.

The city’s second homicide of the year was recorded in October. Sipes said a 7-month- old infant who was shaken and had stopped breathing was taken to North Metro Medical Center on Oct. 31 and died from injuries last week.

Because of reporting requirements, the death is logged in the month that the initial injury occurred.

Sipes also said the city had two sexual assaults, 14 felony assaults, 17 burglaries, 88 thefts, seven motor vehicle thefts and no burglaries in October.

 The police chief, in his code enforcement report, stated officers were assigned 71 calls and self initiated another 485 calls or investigations during October. Officers wrote 87 warning letters or notices, removed 165 signs (mostly political), inspected 13 structures and mowed 28 private lots.

During the month, owners tore down four structures after being cited by code enforcement and three were demolished by the city.

 Fire Chief John Vanderhoof, in his monthly report to the council, said his department responded to 245 rescue calls, 59 still alarms, 29 general alarms and had 266 ambulance runs during October.

Among the fires the department responded to were an electrical blaze in the 2000 block of Harold Drive, causing $25,000 damage, and a fire in the 1100 block of Liberty Avenue, causing $35,000. The cause for the fire is still undetermined. Overall fire loss for the month was placed at $60,000 and fire savings was estimated to be $170,000.

 In the monthly animal shelter report, Public Works Director Jim Oakley said the shelter received 115 dogs and 67 cats during October. Shelter officers were able to return 42 dogs and four cats to owners and adopt out 26 dogs and six cats. Officers had to euthanize 29 dogs and 54 cats.

Two bite cases or attacks were reported in October. Two Schipperkes, a pug mix and a sheltie mix attacked Police Officer Michael Holland as he knelt down to check on the dog’s owner, Sandy Gray, who had passed out in her home.

One dog bit him on the hand but since he was busy checking on Gray he wasn’t sure which one it was. All four dogs were placed in quarantine for 10 days.

The other bite was the same day and involved he same group of protective dogs. Animal Control Officer Jared Green responded to 1630 Pinion to pick up the four dogs. When he was unloading them at the animal shelter the sheltie mix tried to escape. When Green pushed the dog back in the truck, it bit him on the wrist.

 City Engineer Jay Whisker, in his monthly report, said his department issued 17 building permits and nine business licenses during October. His department also performed 228 inspections during the month.

 The mayor officially proclaimed November as “Water’s Worth It” month at the request of the water department and the waste water utility “to help increase the community awareness of Jacksonville’s most precious natural resource.”

TOP STORY >> Legislators from Cabot in top spots

Leader staff writer

Two Republicans from Cabot and one from Searcy have been elected to top positions in the Arkansas Legislature.

Rep. Davy Carter of Cabot was chosen by fellow representatives as the speaker of the House after a vote to nullify the election of Darrin Williams of Little Rock, who was to have been the first black speaker of the House.

Sen. Eddie Joe Williams was chosen Senate majority leader, second to Sen. Michael Lamoureux of Russellville, who was chosen Senate president pro tem.

Sen. Jonathan Dismang of Searcy was chosen majority whip.

Lamoureux replaces Sen. Larry Teague, a Democrat from Nashville, who was elected Senate president pro tem before Republicans took the majority of positions during the election on Nov. 6.

Williams will chair the State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee. The vice chair will be Sen.-elect Jane English of North Little Rock.

In addition to committee chairmen and vice chairs and assigning bills to committees, Carter said his job will be to build consensus among state legislators.

With 51 Republicans, 48 Democrats and one Green Party representative, to work with, Carter says he doesn’t expect the job to be easy.

But Carter said, “I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

Health care and tax reform will be the biggest issues to work through in 2013, he said.

Williams said his job will be to keep the Republicans on point.

The biggest challenge of the legislative session will be the estimated $400 million shortfall in Medicaid that has been funded for the past three years with stimulus money.

“We’ve known it existed and we’ve chosen to kick the can on down the road,” Williams said.

Insurance reform and lawsuit reform will also be priorities, he said.

This is the first time Republicans have controlled the legislature since Reconstruction.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

TOP STORY >> Men who fell from the top to doghouse

Leader editor

At what point does a potential national-security scandal become more like a “Saturday Night Live” sketch in search of a punchline?

Who will portray Gen. David Petraeus, Gen. John R. Allen, Paula Broadwell and Jill Kelley on the next “Saturday Night Live”?

Do you follow the characters so far? Petraeus, the former commander in Iraq and Afghanistan, resigns as the CIA director after the FBI finds sexually explicit e-mails between Patraeus and Broadwell, his lover and biographer.

Allen, who succeeded Petraeus as commander in Afghanistan, was undone when the FBI discovered some 30,000 explicit e-mails between the general and Kelley, a volunteer social planner.

Judging from the volume of e-mails, you have to wonder when the generals found time for work. Then you have the FBI agent who sent shirtless pictures of himself to Kelley after she had him trace the anonymous e-mails she was getting from Broadwell, although they hardly involved national security.

The FBI agent’s bosses told him he was nuts, so he went to a couple of congressmen to complain about a coverup. This is a “Saturday Night Live” that keeps writing itself.

Allen, who was up for promotion to NATO commander, will probably be allowed to retire quietly, unless it turns out he might have shared secrets with Kelley.

Broadwell wrote a fawning biography of Petreaus with the suggestive title of “All In: The Education of General David Petraeus.”

It wasn’t long after that Broadwell sent threatening e-mails to Kelley, the female friend of the two generals. Broadwell told Kelley, “Back off” and “Stay away from my guy!”

By summer, the FBI connected Petraeus to Broadwell. On Sunday, Allen was drawn into the scandal.

Congressional committees will find out why it took several months for this sordid mess to come out.

Although he resigned last week as the head of the CIA, Petraeus will face tough questions in Congress over the agency’s failure to protect the U.S. consulate in Benghazi Libya, where a mob killed four Americans, including our ambassador.

Republicans are eager to grill the former war hero, who at one time was considered a possible GOP presidential candidate.

He was the most praised general since Colin Powell. He was called the brilliant architect of “the surge” in Iraq and later, as top commander in Afghanistan, was credited with stabilizing the war there.

It wasn’t that long ago that key Republicans, surveying their weak presidential field, thought Petraeus could lead them to the White House in 2012. Others pitched him as a suitable running mate for Mitt Romney.

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) was once a huge admirer but is now calling for an investigation into the Libyan debacle, including the intelligence failures that allowed them to enter the compound Sept. 11.

But back in 2009, this is what King had to say about a Petraeus presidential run:

“He’s a serious guy,” King said. “He’s about the only one out there who could really challenge Obama, who isn’t as strong as he was a few months ago… I think he’s an independent, and I haven’t talked to him about this, but I’d encourage him… I’d be open to it.”

In “an exclusive” report, Drudge said in early August, “President Obama whispered to a top fundraiser this week that he believes GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney wants to name Gen. David Petraeus to the VP slot!”

“The president wasn’t joking,” the anonymous insider told Drudge.

“A Petraeus drama has been quietly building behind the scenes,” Drudge told his readers. “Romney is believed to have secretly met with the four-star general in New Hampshire.”

“The pick could be a shrewd Romney choice,” Drudge continued. “A cross-party pull. The Obama administration hailed Petraeus as one of history’s greatest military strategists. Petraeus was unanimously confirmed as the director of the CIA by the U.S. Senate 94-0.

‘He’s a serious man, for seriously dangerous times,’ notes a top Republican.”

That was last summer. Petraeus now stands disgraced, accused of not only incompetence in Libya but potentially compromising our national security by getting involved with a woman who could have blackmailed him.

For Petraeus, the scandal has taken him from the White House to the doghouse and could even land him in the jailhouse if it turns out he betrayed secrets to his paramour. Allen, too, has a lot of explaining to do.

Apart from the personal tragedies, the men and women who serve under them, and the American people who pay the bills for the wars, have a right to know if they were misled by charlatans.

TOP STORY >> Missile silo crew looks back

A Titan II missile is transported from Little Rock Air Force Base to a silo north of the base during the mid-1960s. The base was responsible for 18 silos with intercontinental missiles in rural Arkansas.

Leader staff writer

Retired 1st Sgt. Jack Meadows recently reminisced about the “good ol’ days” of helping prevent nuclear war with the other living members of Titan II Missile Combat Crew 119.

The crew, which was assigned to silo 374-7 near Damascus, was formed almost 50 years ago, in June 1963.

Meadows, 76, said he, retired Maj. Gene Secor, 80, of Whidbey Island, Wash., and retired Maj. David Leggett, 73, of Haughton, La., have held their annual reunion in Jacksonville since 2004.

The reunions began when Secor found Meadows’ contact information online.

Meadows, who lives in Jacksonville, said he got a call and couldn’t believe it was his former commander on the other end of the phone. The two decided right away to get together in person with the other members of the crew.

“We were separated all these years. You form a brotherhood with those you serve with. There is such a camaraderie in the military,” Meadows said.

Secor wrote in an e-mail that he “would travel anywhere, anytime to support the old missile crew who has a brotherhood that is without bounds.”

The reunion of his crew is held the same week Secor and his wife, Judith, attend an annual Concerns of Police Survivors four-day retreat in Little Rock for the parents and relatives of law-enforcement officers who have been killed in the line of duty. Their daughter, Catherine, spent 19 years as a Washington state park ranger until her line-of-duty death.

The Titan II missile program was a Cold War weapons system featuring 54 launch complexes in Arkansas, Arizona and Kansas.

There were 18 Arkansas sites — in Faulkner, Conway, White, Van Buren and Cleburne counties — from which intercontinental ballistic missiles carrying nine-megaton nuclear warheads could be launched to strike targets 5,500 miles away. They were built to deter Russia from bombing the United States.

The missiles were 103 feet long and 10 feet in diameter, Meadows recalled.

“If the Russians had launched first, we would have had to retaliate,” he added.

The 308th Strategic Missile Wing was based at Little Rock Air Force Base and included the 373rd and 374th Strategic Missile Squadrons. Although the silo was in Damascus, Meadows reported to the base in Jacksonville.

All Titan II crews had two officers and two enlisted members.

Meadows enlisted as a missile-facilities technician. His job was to take care of the details. Meadows monitored all the facilities and equipment that supported the underground silo and crew quarters where the members spent some of their 24-hour shifts. A typical tour of duty was that shift every three or four days.

Secor, the senior officer, was the missile combat crew commander.

Leggett, the junior officer, was the deputy missile combat crew commander.

The fourth position on the crew was that of the late Staff Sgt. John Kay. As an enlisted serviceman, he served as the ballistic missile analyst technician. Kay was in charge of guidance and launch equipment.

The crew was one of the first in Arkansas, and in the country, to be declared “On Alert — Ready” the week before Christmas 1963.

Meadows explained that all silos were put on alert after their crews were trained and met standardization requirements.

He said, “We were on the ground floor. The responsibility, the fact that you’re babysitting a nuclear warhead during the Cold War, it was a big accomplishment.”

Leggett wrote in an e-mail about his military career, “It sure was a lot of fun and I would do it all over again — great assignments with great people.”

The crew accessed the silo with single-use codes they received from LRAFB’s Transportation and Code Control department.

A crew member would use the code to enter the entrapment area. The entrapment area was a large four- or five-story-tall room with two doors — the one into the entrapment area and the one into the rest of the silo. They could not be opened at the same time, Meadows explained.

The control center monitored the entrapment area. If a person wasn’t authorized to enter the rest of the silo, he or she would be trapped in that room until police arrived, Meadows said.

His crew was not disbanded because the members left one at a time to pursue other goals.

All Titan II missile silos were deactivated after the 1979 Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty. One silo, the Green Valley complex of the 390th Strategic Missile Wing in Tucson, Ariz., was retained as a museum that is open to the public.

Meadows joined the Air Force in 1954 as a Boeing KC-97 Stratotanker engine mechanic.

He entered the missile field when that aircraft was replaced by another model that he wasn’t qualified to work on.

Meadows was a mechanic on the crew that fueled the first nonstop flight around the world in 1957 from California and back. Refueling was done over the Persian Gulf.

While the KC-97s were being phased out, LRAFB started offering training in missiles.

“I jumped at it,” Meadows said.

He was cross training in the missile field during the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962. “That was scary, wasn’t it?” Meadows said.

The crisis was a 13-day standoff between the Soviet Union and the United States that was sparked by the Russians deploying missiles in Cuba. President John F. Kennedy quarantined the island.

The crisis ended when Premier Nikita Khrushchev agreed to dismantle the installations and return the missiles to the Soviet Union in exchange for the U.S. not invading Cuba. The U.S. also agreed to remove its Titan missiles from Turkey. But that part of the deal was not made public at the time.

In 1980, a few years after all the crew retired, a missile at their silo in Damascus exploded inside the launch duct. One airman was killed.

Meadows was later selected to serve on a different crew after he left crew 119 to become an instructor.

With that other crew, he helped conduct the first test of a silo that had been active for two years. Meadows did not launch the missile. He delivered it from Arkansas to Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

Meadows watched the launch from about a mile away.

He said, “It was awesome. There’s something so impressive about a Titan II coming out of a silo (traveling) 5,000 miles to what they call a Pacific test range. It took two officers, in separate locations, to turn the keys at the same time to launch it.”

That was the largest missile to be deployed by the U.S. at the time, he added.

Meadows said tragedy struck near home, at a silo in Searcy, while he was away in California. That was in 1965, the same year Meadows left crew 119.

He said, “It was a major modification of the missile silo by the Army Corps of Engineers, a civilian, not a military, project to further harden the silo against nuclear attack. A welder hit a hydraulic line. Fifty-three died from no oxygen.” The subsequent explosion and fire sealed off the victims’ escape route.

Meadows was the first to leave crew 119 to become an instructor at the Air Force Leadership School.

“They didn’t want me to go, naturally,” Meadows said about his old crew.

Meadows returned to another missile crew as a regular member and adviser in 1974. He later became a senior Titan II instructor. He has been honored with the Military Training Award and was named LRAFB Outstanding Airman of Year in 1968.

Retired 1st Sgt. Jack Meadows (far right) of Jacksonville stands in front of a Titan II re-entry vehicle that once housed a nine-megaton nuclear bomb, displayed at the Museum of Military History. Other members of Titan II Missile Crew 119 are retired Maj. Gene Secor of Whidbey Island, Wash., and retired Maj. David Leggett of Haughton, La. They’ve held a reunion in Jacksonville every year since 2004.

TOP STORY >> Group finds support for new district

Leader staff writer

Several of the nearly 400 residents who attended Tuesday’s public meeting at the Jacksonville Community Center voiced their support for separating from the Pulaski County Special School District as soon as next year.

Voters could decide whether the city should split from PCSSD if U.S. District Judge D. Price Marshall Jr., the presiding judge in the school desegregation case, approves the study and gives Jacksonville permission to have an election on the issue.

James Bolden, a minister and former school board member who was recently elected alderman, compared splitting from PCSSD to a divorce, explaining that details would have to be worked out in negotiations.

He said, “We’re probably going to get the better part of the deal because we’re going to be free.”

The next step in the process of separation is to finish updating the 2008 feasibility study so a special election can be held, according to Daniel Gray of the Jacksonville-North Pulaski Education Corps, which hosted the meeting to rally support from the community.

The study should be completed by next month and another public meeting will be held in January, he said.

Gray said, based on the wealth-index formula, the state would contribute 65 percent – $65 million of a $100 million building project — toward repairing or constructing new facilities for a stand-alone district in Jacksonville.

The state gives only 3 percent to PCSSD for construction, which is about the amount Jacksonville received for construction in the past decade.

Gray said state law says students for a new district must come from the existing district. So, the new district can only be made up of PCSSD schools.

The proposed Jacksonville district includes North Pulaski High School, Jacksonville High School, Jacksonville Middle School, and Bayou Meto, Arnold Drive, Tolleson, Adkins, Taylor, Pinewood and Dupree elementary schools.

He said later parents could transfer their children to the Jacksonville school district from Lighthouse if they choose to do so.

A Jacksonville district would have about 4,500 students and would save PCSSD hundreds of millions of dollars in construction costs associated with the city’s aging school buildings.

Jacksonville NAACP president Ivory Tillman asked if the independent district would have to pay for an $80 million bond issue to build the new Maumelle High School.

Gray said that debt would not carry over, but a new district in Jacksonville would take on its portion — 14 percent — of the rest of PCSSD’s debts.

Resident John Davis asked how long it would take for the city to get its own district. Gray said, “We hope in spring or summer of next year.” But he added that it could be later than that, depending on whether the judge would like to have a hearing about the study.

Another resident asked if the Lighthouse charter schools would be included in the new district.

Mike Wilson, an attorney and a former state senator who was instrumental in bringing the charter school here, said, “It’s important for the community to support all choices. Competition between various methods of schooling is nothing but good.”

Resident Tracy Tell questioned how the new district would deal with personality conflicts that have plagued the PCSSD board in the past.

Bolden said the PCSSD board had too many factions fighting for different cities.

He explained that everyone elected to the school board for a new district would work together for Jacksonville.

Mary Spann, a retired PCSSD teacher, asked how a new district would affect the salaries of employees at Jacksonville schools.

Gray said a lot of that would be worked out later, but that “salaries will have to be competitive.”

Gray apologized for not being able to fully answer all questions. He explained, “We’re starting from scratch,” and that some issues would have to be addressed at a later stage.

He said, “A lot of the benefit will be local pride,” after someone asked whether Jacksonville would be reimbursed for the “obvious neglect” it has experienced at the hands of PCSSD.

Patrick Wilson, an attorney who has been helping the Education Corps, said, “The big difference is that PCSSD supports this and there wasn’t leadership from the top tier of the state in 2003. If there was ever a time for a federal judge to boost this effort, it is now.”

Wilson also said, “The best way for PCSSD to clean up their facilities is to get rid of them here,” because that is what the district has to do to come out of court supervision. In May, PCSSD’s lawyers asked the federal judge presiding over the desegregation case to create a separate Jacksonville district.

The motion was in response to the state attorney general’s March petition requesting that the state be relieved of its obligation to provide about $70 million a year in desegregation funding.

The PCSSD lawyers said dividing the 17,000-student, 760-square-mile district would help it achieve unitary status and get out of fiscal distress.

A resident asked if there was a backup plan, in case Jacksonville does not succeed in the effort to get its own school district.

Gray said, “We aren’t waiting to improve. They’ve (the schools) have been getting people involved.”

He complimented second-year Jacksonville High School principal Henry Anderson. “The culture is changing. A lot of the problem is perception,” Gray said.

A student asked if the courses at Jacksonville schools would change when an independent school district is formed.

Gray said courses in a new Jacksonville district would better meet the community’s needs.

The Education Corps has hired Dr. Winston Simpson, a former superintendent of the Bryant and Fayetteville districts, to update a 2008 feasibility study so that a special election can be held for voters to decide whether the city should split from PCSSD.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

EDITORIAL >> Say goodbye to Aunt Bet

The last Baker of my dad’s generation died last week.

Betty Lou Coe Baker, Aunt Bet to her 60 or so nieces and nephews, was 88 when she died Friday morning. By that time, her husband and her mind had been gone for a decade.

Dementia is so prevalent among the elderly farm women in Lee County where I grew up that many of us think it must have something to do with the chemicals that were so much a part of their livelihood.

The sadness for their children is that the condition takes away their strong personalities. The blessing was that it leaves behind their loving natures.

Aunt Bet was a sweet woman who introduced herself to her neighbor at the nursing home every day. She didn’t know me the last time I saw her, but she was very pleased to see me just the same.

She told me I was pretty, something a woman my age isn’t accustomed to hearing. But then, she had told me that all my life. So I shouldn’t have been surprised.

As the only person in the family paid to write, I was asked to talk to her kids and grandkids about their memories and write her eulogy.

Unfortunately, some of their favorite memories seemed to them unsuitable for a church service, so I write them now in case they want to read them later.

She was married for 55 years to Louie Baker, the baby of my dad’s family. And though most couples have some difficult periods, theirs was a good marriage.

They had four children and 13 grandchildren that they called their Baker’s dozen. Aunt Bet, a religious woman who managed to be both pious and earthy at the same time, once suggested in jest that she wouldn’t be opposed to a union between her youngest son and the second son’s wife if it would get the 13th grandbaby she wanted. Thirteen was a Baker’s dozen. Twelve was just a dozen.

Fortunately, no adultery was required for the desired outcome.

The kids, ranging in age from 57 to 67, told me to remind everyone that their mother was a farmer’s wife, but she was also a farmer. She knew how to read a transit for laying out rice levies. And she helped with planting and harvesting.

Another story that wasn’t fit for church was that a full cotton sack hidden among the rows was often their parents’ romantic hideaway. I shudder as I wonder how the kids knew that.

I remember the borderline risqué song she sang in the cotton patch about a farmer and a young miss. And sometimes I sing it myself with the appropriate pauses to emphasize the humor. “There once was a farmer who had a young miss in back of the barn where he gave her a — lecture on horses and chickens and eggs. And told her that she had such beautiful — manners that suited a girl of her charms….”

The only four-letter word said to have ever left Aunt Bet’s mouth was uttered when the last board in the new floor she was laying in her closet wouldn’t fall into place despite pounding from her hammer.

Betty Lynn, her then-teenaged daughter, was shocked. But Aunt Bet showed no remorse. That board deserved any name she could call it.

Sixty years ago, before smoking was taboo, Aunt Bet could smoke and sing while floating on her back in a lake.

Sitting Saturday evening in Aunt Bet’s house across Big Creek from where I lived my first 18 years, I listened to those stories and laughed with her kids.

The farm people in my community were hard workers who were dedicated to taking care of their families. They grew row crops for a living and gardens and livestock for food. The women made clothes for their kids and cooked three meals a day, often including desserts like homemade cobbler made with blackberries they picked.

And apparently, Aunt Bet was as well known on her side of the creek for her biscuits as my mother was on her side.

I wrote about those biscuits for Aunt Bet’s eulogy and about the kites she bought every spring to fly with her Baker’s dozen.

But those stories that weren’t fit for a eulogy given in church help complete the picture of a woman who loved and lived life to the fullest.

Her legacy, as I see it, is the lesson that can’t be missed: Although life is a progression to an inevitable end, the joy, like the memories, really are in the moments.

–Joan McCoy

SPORTS STORY >> Bison face revenge-minded foe

Leader sportswriter

Carlisle’s dominant performance last week in the opening round of the class 2A state playoffs means the Bison will travel to Lepanto on Friday for a third-straight playoff showdown with East Poinsett County.

The Bison (9-1), the No. 2 seed from the 2A-6 Conference, have eliminated the Warriors (10-1) from the playoffs the past two years. In 2010, Carlisle sent EPC home in the second round with a 34-28 overtime win. In last year’s semifinals, the Bison won 34-7. Both wins were at Fred C. Hardke Field. This time Carlisle will have to get it done on the road.

“They’re real similar to where they’ve been the past two years, just real athletic,” said Carlisle coach Scott Waymire of the Warriors. “They have a lot of weapons on the field offensively and they fly around on defense. I think their O-line and D-line are as good as they’ve been in the past three years that we’ve seen them.

“So we definitely have our hands full this week. Hopefully we can go down there and play well, and get a chance to play at home next week.”

Last week against Norphlet, who was the No. 4 seed from the tough 2A-8 Conference, East Poinsett County dominated on both sides of the ball en route to a 52-14 win. The Warrior defense forced six turnovers in the game.

In his first start on defense, freshman safety Malik Monk recovered a fumble and returned an interception 80 yards for a touchdown. Sophomore playmaker Aaron Scales, who’s also the starting quarterback, also returned an interception for a touchdown.

East Poinsett County, the No. 2 seed from the 2A-3 Conference, racked up 367 yards of offense in the game, 265 of which came on the ground.

The Warriors’ spread attack has averaged 38 points per game this season. In the regular season, Scales completed 60 percent of his passes for 1,125 yards and 19 touchdowns with just five interceptions. He also rushed for more than 500 yards.

“He’s been great,” said East Poinsett County coach Brian Weathers about his sophomore quarterback. “I think he’s played like a sophomore one time this year. Other than that, he’s looked like an experienced veteran out there. He’s a very level-headed kid, very smart kid, extremely athletic, and an extremely good leader. He’s going to have to have a good game for us to be successful on Friday.”

Other than Scales, the Warriors have three running backs with at least 400 yards rushing this season, and another that has totaled more than 350. Carlisle’s offense counters with a physical line led by senior All-State tackle Clayton Fields.

The Bison also have a plethora of running backs, led by junior Deron Ricks, who eclipsed 1,000 rushing yards for the season last week against Mount Ida. Weathers was quick to point out that stopping Ricks, and winning the battle up front would be necessary if the Warriors expect to win Friday. But Weathers also said finding ways to disrupt senior quarterback Chris Hart is a key factor as well.

Last week, Hart completed 70 percent of his passes for 118 yards and ran 10 times for 47 yards and three touchdowns. For the year, Hart’s completed 65 percent of his passes and has thrown just two interceptions.

“Their quarterback this year looks like he’s a little more involved in the offense compared to years past,” Weathers said. “He looks like he has a pretty good hand. First and foremost, when you’re playing a Carlisle team you have to stop the run. We haven’t been able to do that the past couple of years.

“Offensively for us, it’s kind of the same deal. We have our share of athletes and playmakers, but if that defensive line is a yard or two deep in the backfield, there’s not a whole lot we can do. So we’ve got to be able to create opportunities, and make running lanes there so we can make plays.”

The Warriors’ defense has given up an average of 14 points per game this season. It should make for an interesting matchup as the Bison offense has averaged a 2A-6 best 40 points per game. Defensively, Carlisle has given up an average of seven points per game for the year.

Each team has had its share of injuries throughout the season, but both sides expect to be close to 100 percent by Friday. Bison starting center Christian Cotton sat out last week with a nagging shoulder injury. Waymire hopes he’ll be ready to go on game day.

“We beat those guys in the semifinals last year, and in the second round the year before that,” Waymire said. “So for their seniors, their season’s been ended by us the past two years. They’ve got that revenge factor on their mind, and we have to come to their place. We definitely have to be ready to play 48 minutes, because I think it’s going to be a ball game, and it’s going to be won late.”

Kickoff starts at 7 p.m., and the winner will move on to the quarterfinals to play the Poyen/Mineral Springs winner next Friday.

SPORTS STORY >> NLR ladies knock off Russellville

Leader sports editor

Except for the last half of the third quarter, North Little Rock controlled the action to earn its second win of the season, beating Russellville 76-55 in the first round of the Heavenly Hoops Classic at Mount St. Mary’s in Little Rock on Monday.

The Lady Wildcats’ pressure took its toll in the first quarter, forcing five turnovers and dominating on the boards, a trend that continued throughout the game.

Junior Lady Wildcat Kiara Webb scored six of her game-high 17points in the first quarter. She also finished with eight rebounds to follow up her 20-point, 12-rebound game in the team’s opener last week against Bryant.

“Webb had a great game,” North Little Rock Daryl Fimple said. “We did some good things. We have to make s0me free throws because we’re going to get to the line. This group is young but they are not shy about putting it up.”

Russellville is also young, playing its first game of the season with an entirely new starting five after losing seven players off last year’s class 6A state runner-up team.

Freshman Alyssa Owens is the Lady Cyclones’ starting point guard. She succumbed to the pressure early, but helped lead a comeback in the third quarter.

North Little Rock led 43-25 at halftime and scored the first eight points of the third quarter to move its margin to 26 points.

From that point, the Lady Cyclones outscored North Little Rock 16-5 through the rest of the quarter, and cut the lead to as little as 12 early in the fourth quarter. A pair of free throws by Owens made it 60-48 with 6:42 left in the game, but North Little Rock took control again for the rest of the game.

Five-straight points by senior center Tashika Harris made it 65-48. A pair of free throws by freshman Kyra Collier made it 70-50 with four minutes remaining.

“They made a little run like we knew they would,” Fimple said. “But we kept at it. Being this young you just want them to play hard and execute and I thought they did that ok.”

The Lady Wildcats enjoyed very balanced scoring. Four players besides Webb were in double figures. Harris scored 13 while Collier, Jasmin Mays and Halley Hill all scored 10 points. Dajha Hardamon added nine for North Little Rock.

“We’re playing about 12 kids and it’s probably going to be like that every night,” Fimple said. “That’s a good thing about this team. We don’t have that one outstanding player, but we have a whole bunch of really good ones.”

Russellville was also balanced. Owens, Rosalyn Peevy and Nicole Phillips each scored 14 points for the Cyclones.

The Lady Wildcats’ next game will be at 7 p.m. today against Star City, a 58-29 winner over Sylvan Hills in the first round. Russellville will face the Lady Bears at 4 p.m. today.

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot has easy time with FCHS

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Lady Panthers had very little trouble in their opening game of the season, beating Forrest City 89-29 in the first round of the Heavenly Hoops Classic at Mount St. Mary’s Academy in Little Rock.

The Lady Panthers’ pressure was just too much for the Forrest City ball handlers. Once the turnovers were forced, Cabot did a good job of keeping the ball moving until an open shot was available.

“We passed the ball really well,” Cabot coach Carla Crowder said. “That’s what created all those layups. We work really hard on transition. That’s something we work on every day in practice so I was glad that we did a pretty good job of it today. It’s nice to get a good win under our belt.”

Cabot was a bit ragged early on, committing 10 turnovers in the first quarter, but the defense forced 19 turnovers by Forrest City. Cabot still held a 24-9 lead after one period, and committed just six turnovers the rest of the game.

Meanwhile, the Lady Mustangs finished the game with 46 turnovers. Elliot Taylor had five steals and four assists in that first quarter. Taylor played very little in the second quarter and all the starters left the game for good less than halfway through the third.

Still, Taylor played enough to finish the game as the leading scorer. She finished with 18 points, five steals and five assists.

Ryan Wilson and Alyssa Hamilton each scored 14 for Cabot while guard Jaylin Bridges added 11. Bridges was 3 of 5 from three-point range.

Ally Van Enk also played a complete game. She finished with seven points, eight steals and six assists.

The only negative for Cabot came at the free-throw line. Cabot hit just six of 13 attempts at the line.

The Lady Panthers will play Watson Chapel at 8:30 p.m today in the second round. Watson Chapel beat tournament host Mount St. Mary’s 70-50 on Monday. Other games in the tournament saw North Little Rock beat Russellville 76-55 and Star City rout Sylvan Hills 58-29.

SPORTS STORY >> JHS girls hold off Malvern assault

Leader sports editor

Building a comfortable lead went well for Jacksonville. Maintaining it proved more difficult than expected against Malvern in the opening round of the Arkansas Alumni Classic. The Lady Red Devils got the job done just the same in a 59-47 victory over the Lady Leopards at Cirks Arena on Monday.

The Lady Devils opened their 2012-13 season on a tear, scoring the first eight points on their way to an early 17-5 lead. They were able to sustain that gap for the most part throughout the first half, leading 31-22 at intermission. But Malvern made things interesting to start the second half with a 7-2 run to tie the game at 31, and briefly took a 33-31 lead before Jacksonville got going again.

Senior and University of Arkansas commit Jessica Jackson led the way for the Lady Red Devils with 23 points, but it was her nine second-half rebounds that made the biggest difference for Jacksonville down the stretch. Most of those boards were defensive, denying the Lady Leopards second-chance shots that allowed them to close the gap before Jackson re-entered the game at the 13:56 mark of the second half.

“When you get in foul trouble, you’ve got to play through some adversities,” Jacksonville coach Katrina Mimms said. “And that’s what happened. They came out of the dressing room at halftime, got the first shot, scored, we didn’t score. We foul them, they go to the line, then get a rebound off of it, you know, they’re changing the momentum there.

“I sit Jessica out to start so she wouldn’t pick up a cheap one. I thought the third one was a cheap one, but you’ve got to play through those.”

Jackson set the tone for the Lady Devils offensively with a three-point basket in the first minute and another at the 11:39 mark to give Jacksonville a 13-2 lead, but she also picked up two quick fouls in that time. Mimms sat Jackson until just inside six minutes, which allowed the Lady Leopards to close the gap to 21-13, but a Jackson three with 5:37 left to play in the first extended the lead back to double digits at 24-13.

The Lady Red Devils executed defensively for the most part, but allowed Malvern to climb back in the game with a sluggish start to the second half.

“That’s them, and that’s what I’m trying to coach them through,” Mimms said. “Don’t be lax on defense at any time. If you’re in there, you give me 100 percent. If you need to come out, I’ve got players over here that can come in and play through it.”

Markela Bryles backed Jackson’s effort with 10 points, six of which came in the final four minutes when the Lady Leopards were making the strongest push to cut the margin. Antrice McCoy added 8 points for the Lady Red Devils and sophomore point guard Shakyla Hill had six points.

Jackson stayed inside for her second-half scoring after a trio of successful outside looks in the first half, and her contribution on the boards allowed the Lady Red Devils to finally rebuild their lost lead in the final nine minutes of play.

“She’s 6-2, she’s the tallest thing on the floor,” Mimms said. “She’s going to help tremendously on the boards. A double-double, good way to start the season.”

The Lady Red Devils will resume play in the Alumni Classic tourney with their second-round game Wednesday at 8:30 p.m.

SPORTS STORY >> Panthers vs. Wildcats part two

Leader sports editor

Take two. North Little Rock and Cabot take the field for the second time this season when they meet at North Little Rock Stadium on Friday in the quarterfinals of the class 7A state tournament. The first meeting between the two teams came in week four of the season. It was the opening week of conference play and the Charging Wildcats took a 33-14 victory at Panther Stadium.

Cabot hit a slump a couple of weeks later, losing games in the waning moments to West Memphis and Little Rock Central. North Little Rock struggled the following week against Jonesboro, but went on to dominate all its opponents the last month and a half of the season.

Since Cabot’s losing streak, however, the Panthers have hit their stride. They clobbered Jonesboro at home and pulled away late to beat Searcy by three touchdowns in the final two games of the regular season. Last week, the Panthers controlled the tempo and the line of scrimmage in a 28-21 win over Bryant in the first round of the playoffs.

North Little Rock had a bye in the first round, which many coaches dislike. Wildcat coach Brad Bolding doesn’t have a problem with it.

“I look at that as an excuse to not play well,” Bolding said. “We were able to work on a lot of things last week and we got a lot of things in that are hard to work in when you’re trying to prepare for a specific team. So I kind of like having a week off.”

Cabot believes an advantage it could have this week is that it’s playing much better than it was in week four.

“I think we’re a lot better defensively,” Cabot coach Mike Malham said. “We’ve been playing some pretty good football on the defensive side. Of course North Little Rock has got talent everywhere. They’ve just been blowing everybody out. But we played them about as good as anybody. We had two long drives last time. We had a 15-play drive and a 17-play drive that we came up an inch short on. Hopefully we can move it on them again and go ahead and punch it in the end zone this time. If our defense can play better like it has been, who knows what might happen. We’re certainly glad for the opportunity to play them again. There aren’t many teams left playing and we’re one of them, so we’re going out there to give it our best shot.”

Cabot ran the option much more than usual against Bryant. That was primarily because the Hornets stacked the inside to take away the Panthers’ power running game. The option worked very well as halfback Chris Henry and quarterback Kason Kimbrell led the team in rushing yards last week.

Bolding said he expects to see more option this time around than last time.

“I would think so,” Bolding said. “They executed it very well with Bryant taking away the inside. They didn’t have anybody on the pitch man at times and Cabot took full advantage of that. Cabot’s a very good football team that does what it does very well. We’re going to have to spend a lot of practice time making sure we’re ready for that because I think we’ll see it quite a bit. The bottom line is we have to execute our game plan. We have to play football like we’re capable of playing. Here we are in the quarterfinals and there are no more easy games left.”