Friday, December 12, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Jacksonville ladies defeat Belles again

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville girls’ basketball team picked up its fourth win this season in just its second home game. The Lady Red Devils pulled away early and beat Mount St. Mary 62-47. The quickness of Jacksonville’s guards was too much for the Belles, who stayed in man defense the entire game.

The Lady Red Devils’ defense forced several turnovers early, and MSM had no one who could stay in front of point guard Antrice McCoy on defense. The result was 23 points for the team’s lone returning starter from last year’s quarterfinal team.

“Antrice was just so much quicker than their players they had guarding her,” said Jacksonville coach William Rountree. “And they played us man the whole game so we were able to take advantage of that.”

Jacksonville built a double-digit lead by halftime, but Mount St. Mary made a run in the third quarter, cutting the margin to as little as five. After the bucket that got it to five, Jacksonville sophomore Alexis James drained a big 3-pointer that stole the momentum back for the home team.

“Bottom line is we have one starter back and we feel like we’re coming along,” Rountree said. “We rebounded better, which is something we emphasized in practice. Our pre-conference schedule has been tough, which is good for us. We’re going to take a little time off and get ready to play in our Classic.”

James added 16 points for Jacksonville and Desiree Williams scored 11.

Jacksonville doesn’t play again until it faces Brookland in the first round of the Red Devil Classic at JHS on Dec. 22. They will face North Pulaski in the second round on Dec. 23.

SPORTS STORY >> Sylvan Hills gets sweep of Maumelle

Leader sports editor

Sylvan Hills got a nonconference sweep of Maumelle on Tuesday, with the girls winning 69-50 while the boys earned an eye-opening 73-69 victory over the Hornets. The Maumelle boys entered the game at Sherwood with impressive wins over teams like Wynne, Catholic and Pulaski Academy, but couldn’t get over on a Bears’ team that has begun to establish itself as a team to keep a close eye on.

Sylvan Hills followed Tuesday’s home win with a first-round, 51-44 victory in the Cyclone Invitational against the host team Russellville.

“You play nonconference games you want them as hard as they can be,” said Sylvan Hills coach Kevin Davis. “I think that’s especially true when you have a team as inexperienced as this one is and you play in a conference as tough as ours. We’ve played a pretty good schedule and so far I’ve been pretty pleased with how we’ve performed. We’re still not finishing inside like we should, and I don’t like giving up 70 points, but we’re getting better and I think that’s showing.”

Junior point guard Cordy Winston has emerged as the team’s leading scorer this season, but he’s far from the lone scorer. The Bears had five players in double figures on Tuesday. Winston led the way with 19 while sophomore Jordan Washington scored 14, Dexter Smith added 13, Tre West 12 and Jaylin Johnson 10. The only other Sylvan Hills player to score was Marlon Clemmons with five points.

Sylvan Hills led 17-14 at the end of one, but Maumelle had tied it at 37 by halftime. Sylvan Hills started the third period with a quick run, and Maumelle never led the rest of the game.

The Hornets came into the game having already played eight games and boasting a 6-2 record, with losses coming in close games against Watson Chapel and Bryant. Sylvan Hills had only played twice, beat Vilonia by 10 and losing to Hot Springs by five.

On Thursday, the Bears had to play catch-up after falling behind 15-7 in the first quarter. They made up no ground in the second quarter but lost none either. Then a defensive adjustment at halftime changed the game. Sylvan Hills held the Cyclones to just four points while taking a 37-36 lead into the fourth quarter.

Winston led the way with 15 points while Washington added 13 for the Bears. The Bears finish the Russellville tournament today, then is off until Friday when it travels to Watson Chapel.

In the girls’ game on Tuesday, a close battle through two-and-a-half quarters changed when the Lady Bears went on a run to end the third. Senior point guard Jessica Brasfield began getting into the lane, creating shots for herself and outside shots for Sarah Beckwith and Storm Ellis. And the two shooters made them count.

“We played hard and won another one,” said girls’ coach Shelley Davis. “We’re getting better. First two games were pretty rough but they continue to play hard and we’re 3-3 now. I’m encouraged.”

The Lady Bears got points from all over the floor. Brasfield led the way with 20 points while Beckwith added 18, Ellis 13 and forward Jahnay Duncan scored 11. Several of Duncan’s points came inside and from offensive rebounds.

Davis also bragged on freshman post Alanah Canady.

“She didn’t score much in this game, but she’s had some strong games earlier on,” Shelley Davis said. “Even in this game she did so many good things as far as taking it to the basket. She’s not finishing as well as she could be, but it’s coming.”

The Lady Bears played Episcopal Collegiate Friday after Leader deadlines. Look for details of that game in Wednesday’s edition of The Leader.

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot girls win tussle with VHS

Leader sportswriter

The annual Cabot Pre-Holiday Classic tipped off Thursday at Panther Arena, and the host Lady Panthers didn’t disappoint, as they handed Class 5A Vilonia its first loss of the season, winning by the final score of 49-41.

Cabot’s press defense was highly effective in the early goings. Cabot scored the first five points of the game, the first four of which being scored by Anna Sullivan after a pair of Vilonia turnovers.

Alyssa Hamilton scored the fifth point for the Lady Panthers (6-1) to make it a 5-0 game, but the Lady Eagles (6-1) were able to battle back and eventually tie the game at 7-7.

Even though the Lady Eagles had some costly turnovers early, they made their first four shots from the floor, and at the end of the first quarter, the score was tied at 15-15.

The second quarter was back and forth, but the Lady Panthers went into halftime with a 24-21 lead. Cabot held a one-point lead as the half came to a close, but was able to push that lead to three on a short jumper in the middle of the lane by senior guard Danielle McWilliams.

McWilliams’ bucket sailed over 6-foot center Sydney Wader with seven seconds remaining, which set the halftime margin.

Cabot opened the second half with a 4-0 run, thanks to a pair of buckets by Sullivan and Leighton Taylor. The Lady Panthers led 31-24 near the midway point of the third quarter, but Vilonia went on a 6-0 run to cut the Cabot lead to one.

It helped the Lady Eagles that Sullivan had to sit a little more than half of the quarter after she picked up her fourth foul at the 4:36 mark, and senior center Alyssa Hamilton was knocked out of the game with 28 seconds left in the quarter after she took an elbow to the face. No foul was called on the play.

Hamilton left the floor on her own accord, but didn’t return. Cabot led 35-30 when Hamilton left the game, and that was the score heading into the final quarter.

More than two minutes passed before the first point of the fourth quarter was scored. That point was scored by Sullivan. She made the second free throw on a two-shot foul, which gave Cabot a 36-30 lead with 5:43 to play.

The Lady Panthers pushed their lead to eight at the 4:53 mark on a pair of free throws by CoCo Calhoon, which made the score 40-32. Sullivan fouled out shortly after, and the Lady Eagles got the Cabot lead down to six with less than two minutes to play, but they couldn’t get any closer.

Having to foul as the game came to a close, Vilonia put Cabot’s Rachel Allgood on the line, and she drained a pair of free throws with 35.5 seconds remaining, which gave Cabot its first double-digit lead of the game with the score 48-38.

Cabot added another free throw late to set its point total for the evening, and Vilonia cleaned up the score with a long 3-pointer by leading scorer Cassidy McNespey with 16 tics remaining, which also set the final score.

The Lady Panthers finished the game 17 for 39 from the floor for 44 percent. Conversely, the Lady Eagles made 13 of 29 shots for 45 percent. At the free-throw line, Cabot was 15 for 28 for 54 percent. Vilonia made 10 of 14 free throws for 71 percent.

Cabot outrebounded the taller Lady Eagles 20-15, and the Lady Panthers finished with eight turnovers, bettering Vilonia’s 19 turnovers committed.

McNespey led all scorers with 26 points. Hamilton, despite not playing the fourth quarter, led Cabot with 10 points. She also had eight rebounds, two blocks and two steals.

Sullivan and McWilliams each scored nine points for Cabot. Taylor scored eight. Calhoon added five. Allgood scored four points, and teammates Chloe Bean and Carly Melder had two points apiece.

The Lady Panthers played Nemo Vista last night after deadlines, and they’ll close the round-robin tournament against Benton at 5:30 p.m. today at Panther Arena.

SPORTS STORY >> One-man show not enough at Lonoke

Leader sports editor

The Lonoke Lady Jackrabbits rebounded from back-to-back losses at the Conway St. Joseph tournament to earn a conference win on Tuesday, beating Helena-West Helena Central 70-41 at the Gina Cox Center.

Central features one of the top sophomores in the state in Kevonshaye Stackhouse, but features little else. Stackhouse scored 28 of her team’s 41 points, but was worn out by the fourth quarter.

“She scored 28 and I still thought Kimistri (Ballance) did a great job defending her,” said Lonoke coach Nathan Morris. “I’ll take my chances on a kid shooting a 35-footer. They’re not going to make a high percentage. I don’t care who they are. And if you go out and guard her that far away, she’s going to run around you and get the rebound. We let her shoot outside tonight and she made some, but we made it really hard for her to penetrate and she didn’t get to the line that much.

“We put Kimistri on her and then we used Amanda (Sexton), who’s also a good defender. But I told them when we go to Helena we’re going to need Kimistri, Amanda and one other one. There’s probably going to be some foul issues when we play them there.”

The first quarter became a shooting contest between Stackhouse and Lonoke junior Jarrelyn McCall. The difference was the quality of other players on the floor.

McCall and Stackhouse each hit a pair of 3-pointers in the opening frame, but Lonoke also got four points apiece from Sexton, Eboni Willis and point guard Kerasha Johnson.

Meanwhile, Central was all about Stackhouse and the Lady Jackrabbits held a 20-14 lead by the end of the fast-paced first quarter.

It was still close throughout the second period. Five different Jackrabbits scored one bucket apiece and Lonoke took a 32-25 lead into the break.

Lonoke stepped up the pressure on Stackhouse and no one else from Central stepped up at all in the third quarter.

Lonoke held the Cougars to just six points in the period, all by Stackhouse, and she had to work hard for all six.

Meanwhile, Willis, Lonoke’s center, began to assert herself inside and Central had no answer.

She finished the game with a 16-point, 13-rebound double-double, including 10 points and eight rebounds in the second half.

“She went to get the ball and had some lanes to go get it,” Morris said of Willis. “She didn’t accept being blocked out. She worked to get in those lanes and went and got it. It was probably her best game of the season so far. We need that from her every night.”

The Lady Jackrabbits held a 45-31 lead by the end of the third, and with Stackhouse slowing down, blew it open in the fourth.

McCall led Lonoke with 18 points while Sexton added 14 points and six rebounds. Johnson was also in double figures, finishing with 11 points and six assists.

The Lady Rabbits, 5-3, 2-1, played at Stuttgart on Friday and will travel to Searcy to play Riverview on Monday in another 4A-2 Conference matchup.

SPORTS STORY >> Panthers pull down Eagles

Leader sportswriter

A 13-0 run to start the second half helped the Cabot boys beat Vilonia 64-43 Thursday night at Panther Arena in the first day of games in the annual Cabot Pre-Holiday Classic.

Cabot led 14-10 at the end of the first quarter, and 27-21 at halftime. But it was in the third quarter that the Panthers (4-1) began to distance themselves from the Class 5A Eagles (5-2).

“We watched film on them and they shoot the ball well,” said Cabot coach Jerry Bridges. “They like that three a lot, and one way I challenged our guys was just saying I really believe good defense can take away shooters, and that’s one thing we tried to do with our defense.

“I thought our guys, for the first two-and-a-half quarters, did a real good job. I think that’s what helped get our run. We went to a different matchup at the end because I was concerned about foul trouble.

“We’ve got to get more bodies healthy and stuff, but I was just pleased with our effort all the way around.”

The third quarter began with a corner three by point guard Bobby Joe Duncan and a midrange jumper by teammate Hunter Southerland. Southerland’s basket gave Cabot a double-digit lead with the score 32-21.

Cabot pushed its lead to 15 near the three-minute mark of the third quarter on a putback by Southerland after teammate Jarrod Barnes missed a 3-pointer from the top of the key, which made the score 36-21 Panthers.

The Panthers added four more points to their side of the scoreboard to complete the 13-0 run, and Vilonia’s Matthew Stanley broke the Eagles’ scoreless streak with an inside bucket off the glass with 45 seconds left in the quarter.

Cabot, though, answered with a Garrett Rowe basket inside the paint just before time expired, which set the third quarter margin at 42-23. Rowe also scored the first basket of the fourth quarter to push Cabot’s lead to 20-plus, but the Eagles then went on a run of their own.

After Rowe’s basket to start the fourth, Vilonia turned up the pressure on defense and was able to force some Cabot turnovers. The Eagles also started to get hot from the 3-point line, and as a result, they were able to cut the Panther lead to 11, trailing 47-36 with just over four minutes to play.

Bridges called timeout shortly after, and Cabot responded with a 4-0 run after the timeout to push its lead to 15 with just over three minutes to play. With a minute remaining, the Panthers got their lead back to 20 on a transition bucket by Tyler Hill, which made the score 60-40.

After that, Cabot outscored the visitors 4-3 in the waning seconds, setting the point total for the evening.

The Panthers finished the game 26 for 43 from the floor for 60 percent. Vilonia was 16 for 39 from the floor for 41 percent. From 3-point range, Cabot made 3 of 7 attempts for 43 percent, and the Eagles made 8 of 21 attempts for 38 percent.

Cabot outrebounded the taller Eagles 25-14, and had one fewer turnover than Vilonia, who finished with 16.

Cabot sophomore Logan Gilbertson came off the bench to lead all scorers with 15 points, providing an excellent spark for the hosts.

“He was a big lift for us,” Bridges said of Gilbertson. “He’s been working hard for us, and I’m really proud of him. He’s just a 10th-grader and hopefully he’ll keep getting better.”

Southerland finished with 14 points. Rowe scored 13. Jared Dixon had nine points and a game-high eight rebounds. Duncan had six points. Barnes scored five points, and Hill had two.

Cabot played Little Rock Catholic last night after deadlines and the Panthers will close the round-robin tournament tonight against Benton. Tip-off for tonight’s game at Panther Arena is 6:30.

EDITORIAL >> Don’t ignore people’s will

The old political maxim that money will find its way to where its owners want it to go, like water to the sea, may be proved again with Arkansas’ new ethics law. In the month since voters adopted tough rules to limit money’s influence on government decision-making, lobbyists, their bosses and many legislators have searched for loopholes in the law that might permit business as usual.

They think they have found one—maybe more than one—so the newly elected state legislators coming to the capital to get ready for the new assembly next month have been partaking of free food and booze provided by corporate interests as if the voters had not spoken.

Groups like the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce that strenuously opposed the ethics law are saying that the lengthy constitutional amendment ratified by the voters is so full of contradictions and tricky, unforeseen consequences that we ought to just scrap or ignore the whole thing. Just forget it happened.

The Arkansas Democrat Gazette editorial page picked up the refrain and said dumb voters were misled into making an abominable mistake when they ratified it by a good margin.

But let’s not throw in the towel and conclude that there is no way to prevent the legal bribery of public officials through gifts and largesse, so just let it happen. Make no mistake, the ethics provisions in Amendment 94 are a huge advance, needing only strict interpretation and enforcement by the state Ethics Commission. Let’s hope that as soon as the commission assumes that mandate, the foolishness at the Capitol will end.

Let’s get to the particulars. The amendment forbids corporations to give money directly to political candidates and parties or funnel money to them through political action committees, and it forbids lobbyists and their bosses to buy meals, drinks, lodging, travel or entertainment for legislators, judges or officials of the executive branch of government. Not even a cup of coffee, a canapĂ© or a whiskey sour. It made an exception: food and drinks that are available to everyone at “a planned activity” to which everyone in a governmental body is invited.

The intent was clear: something like a bar convention reception where Supreme Court justices might be present and could partake of the finger foods without there being any quid pro quo intended or expected.

So the fancied interpretation of the law is that while you may no longer be able to take out just Senator Tweedledee for cocktails and dinner, it would be fine as long as the tab was open for all legislators, or all the members of a certain committee that would be voting on your bill or the bill you want to be killed. That clearly is not what the drafters of the amendment intended and it is not what the voters intended.

The amendment directs the legislature to give the state Ethics Commission rule-making power to carry out the details of the law and to interpret it. When that happens in January, we trust, the commission will not say that one tiny provision overrides the whole thrust of the law, even if the attorney general—the present one or the one who will succeed him in January—sides with the big money.

Amendment 94 creates another commission to fix the salaries and perks of legislators and elected state officials, including all the state’s trial and appellate judges.

Let us trust that the commission, while fixing adequate salaries for the officials, will end the subterfuges by which legislators supplement their salaries with needless “expenses” and per diem for days they are not at the Capitol at work.

The new breed of business Republicans who have entered the legislature like to set their wives up as limited liability corporations and pay them from the state treasury for helping them in their legislative work.

The head of the state Chamber of Commerce, to show how lousy Amendment 94 is, said lawyers were interpreting its new term-limits provisions as giving every legislator, past and present, a crack at 16 more years in the legislature, not a cumulative 16 years as the amendment flatly says. That is sheer nonsense. The amendment cannot be stretched to yield such a ridiculous interpretation, and any lawyer who says it does should be required to pass the law exam again.

Let’s give the law a chance to work and the commission that will enforce it the confidence that it will follow the spirit of the law and not the interests of those who would purchase public policy.

— Ernie Dumas

TOP STORY >> A will from 1871 is discovered

Researchers at the Lonoke County Museum have discovered a will belonging to James A. Jackson of Stockton, Calif., that is dated Jan. 5, 1871.

Found among old court documents in its care, museum director Sherryl Miller said it was written before Lonoke County existed.

She is seeking the public’s help in providing additional information about the will.

Here are some highlights of its contents:

 The listed executors are Henry H. Means of Stockton and Junnie Means of Limestone County, Texas.

 The will names his children, a son, Junnie Means Jackson, and a daughter, Florence Else Jackson. (The will does not name a wife.)

Miller said she cannot find a connection to Lonoke or Prairie counties other than it was found in the museum’s archives.

“Of course, if the daughter married, I have no way of knowing the married name. (There’s) nothing in our marriage books,” she said.

Miller has learned though that Jackson did go west during the gold rush in 1849.

“The History of San Joaquin County” indicates that James Alanson Jackson left his native state of Georgia in 1849 and went to California, arriving in July.

He lived in Tuolumne County in California for many years, where he worked as a merchant, miner or trader.

He moved with his family to Stockton, where he worked as a commission merchant. He died in January 1871.

The 1860 census in Stockton lists J.A. Jackson, 38, a commission merchant, born in Georgia as well as the following names of his relatives:

 Henry H. Means, 53, a clerk, who was born in South Carolina;

 Sarah Jackson, 21, born in Mississippi;

 Mary E. Jackson, 1-year-old, born in California, who might have married and changed her name to Mary Florence Else.

“So from the census it looks like old James married the daughter of his friend and executor, Henry H. Means, and he is the grandfather of Junnie and Florence. Henry is in Memphis on the 1850 census,” Miller said.

To provide information about these people, call Miller at 501-676- 6750.

TOP STORY >> Confederate went undercover

Lonoke County Museum

Howell (Dock) Rayburn was born in Roane County, Tenn., in 1842, the son of Hodge and Susan Raburn. By 1850, the family had moved to Shelby County, Texas.

Rayburn’s name first appears on the muster roll with Col. William H. Parson’s “Johnson County Slashers,” stating he was a 19-year-old private who signed up for one year, or sooner if discharged, at Camp Hebert near Hempstead, Texas.

Parson was a newspaper editor from Waco, who recruited troops to fight for the Confederacy. The Johnson County Slashers were formally known as the 12th Texas Cavalry, Company C, according to the Texas State Historical Association.

While en route to Tennessee, Rayburn was left at Des Arc (Prairie County) to either recover from a wound or sickness, where he persuaded other young men to help the Confederate cause and was successful in organizing a small company to begin their guerilla strikes against Union troops.

The recruits came from White, Prairie and what is now Lonoke counties. Rayburn was elected captain and was assisted by Lt. John Bethell. Their activities earned them the name “The Phantom Unit” and attracted the interest of Gen. Dandridge McRae, a Searcy native, who helped the unit gain recognition in the Confederate Army.

The most celebrated legend concerning Rayburn centers upon his activities at DeValls Bluff (Prairie County) in December 1864.

He told his men that, if he could make it through a Union picket line that evening, he would bring each of them back a Christmas present. A small man with long blonde hair and blue eyes, he barely weighed 100 pounds.

Borrowing female clothes, Rayburn passed rather easily for a girl. He made his way through the picket line to a Christmas dance hosted by federal officers.

After an evening of dancing, Rayburn made his way to the corral, where he mounted a horse and stampeded enough for each man in his command to receive a horse for Christmas.

Rayburn chose a beautiful black horse that belonged to the federal officer who had invited him to the dance.

He named it Limber Jim and rode it for the rest of the war. He and his men later stole other horses from the garrison’s pastures.

This daring captain was a well-known figure at Brownsville (Lonoke County), where his exploits attracted attention. He often called on Miss Sallie Jones of Tennessee, who was visiting the family of her uncle, Q.T. Webster.

On one occasion, five federal soldiers came into the Webster home while Rayburn was hiding in the barn. Miss Jones signaled to him with a handkerchief. He dashed in and captured the men.

The highlight for Rayburn’s company came when they served as guards for Gen. Sterling Price and were with him throughout the Missouri campaign in 1864.

After the Union offered a dead-or-alive reward for Rayburn, he was arrested and placed in a Union prison. His followers were paroled.

Rayburn was released in 1865. He contracted tuberculosis and died soon after. He was buried in an unmarked grave somewhere near Des Arc.

He had married Mary A. Booth of West Point (White County) in 1863.

TOP STORY >> Wreaths honor Cabot’s fallen

Leader staff writer

The Wreaths Across America program made a stop Friday at Cabot High School to honor veterans and remember service members who attended Cabot schools and died serving their country since Sept. 11, 2001.

Two semi-trailer loads of balsam fir memorial wreaths were brought from the Walmart Distribution Center in Searcy to Panther Arena and then to the National Military Cemetery in Fayetteville for National Wreath Laying Day on Saturday.

State Police and the Freedom Warriors (motorcycle) Riding Association of Searcy escorted the Walmart trucks of wreaths to and from Cabot.

Walmart is using 16 tractor trailers to transport more than 80,000 wreaths from Columbia Falls, Maine, to memorial ceremonies in 13 states and Washington as part of the company’s involvement in Wreaths Across America. Walmart donated $150,000 to purchase 30,000 wreaths.

Local families were given wreaths in memory of their fallen loved ones, who were:

• Air Force Master Sgt. Daniel Wassom, 31, assigned to the Arkansas Air National Guard’s 189th Airlift Wing.

Wassom died April 27 using his body to shield his 5-year-old daughter as a tornado demolished their house.

• Army Sergeant Jason Swindle, 24, assigned to the 1st Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment, 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.

Swindle died Sept. 20, 2012, of injuries sustained when he was attacked by a rocket propelled grenade while on mounted patrol in Panjway, Afghanistan.

• Army Sergeant Brandon Smith, 24, assigned to the 82nd Airborne, F Company, 2-508 Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, Fort. Bragg, N.C. Smith died March 15, 2011, in Fort Bragg from non-combat related injuries.

• Marine Corporal Curtis Obal, 22, assigned to Camp Robinson. Obal died Dec. 12, 2009, from non-combat related injuries in Little Rock.

• Army First Lt. Thomas Martin, 27, assigned to the 1st Squadron, 40th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, Fort Richardson, Alaska.

Martin was killed Oct. 14, 2007, when terrorists attacked his unit using small arms fire during combat operations in Busayifi, Iraq.

• Specialist Ronald Baker, 34, assigned to the Army National Guard’s 39th Support Battalion, Arkansas National Guard, Lonoke.

Baker died Oct. 13, 2004, in Landstuhl, Germany, of injuries sustained a week earlier in a car bomb attack on his patrol vehicle in Taji, Iraq.

Pam Wassom, mother of Dan Wassom, said, “This is humbling that he is being honored. The wreaths are a nice symbol of hope that I’ll get to see him again someday.”

Col. James Treece of Beebe, brigade commander of the 87th Troop Command of the Arkansas Army National Guard, spoke to the students about the ultimate sacrifice the former Cabot students made to protect our freedoms.

“These freedoms come from the United States Constitution. It is a written guarantee that, as long as your action is not considered harmful to others, the Constitution allows you to do almost anything you want — when you become an adult. It is a powerful document,” the colonel said.

“The Constitution is only as strong as the resolve of the men and women who are pledged to defend it,” Treece added.

“Anytime there has been a threat to liberty, brave men and women have answered our nation’s call to serve in our nation’s military,” he continued.

“Freedom is a great thing. If you want to decorate a sweater to where it is the most hideous Christmas sweater you ever had on in your life and wear it to school, you can do that,” Treece said.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot ladies jump out on Yellowjackets

By RAY BENTONLeader sports editor

The Cabot Lady Panthers picked up another win on Friday, going on the road and beating Sheridan 50-32 with an impressive defensive performance. Cabot forced 29 Yellowjacket turnovers, 20 of which were steals. Sheridan scored in double figures in just one of the three quarters and was held to just 9 of 38 shooting from the floor.

Sophomore point guard Leighton Taylor led the way defensively with seven steals. Cabot won the opening tip and showed good patience with the ball. CoCo Calhoon got an open look underneath after a nice pass from Danielle McWilliams for the opening score of the game. Taylor then got her first steal and dished to Calhoon for another quick bucket. Cabot’s Anna Sullivan scored the next four points and Alyssa Hamilton added a bucket to make it 10-0 before Sheridan could get on the scoreboard.

Once they did, the Yellowjackets responded with a 9-0 run that cut the margin to one point, but could never take the lead.

Sullivan ended Cabot’s drought with a short jumper and Sheridan answered right back with two free throws, but the Lady Panthers put together another 8-0 run, including six by Sullivan. That gave Cabot a 20-11 lead halfway through the second period, and the margin reached as much as 28-15 before halftime. Sheridan scored the last four points of the second quarter and closed to within 29-21 early in the third, but couldn’t contend with the Lady Panthers’ pressure. Cabot got no more big runs, but slowly pulled away and assumed command of the game.

Sullivan led Cabot with 12 points while Calhoon and Hamilton each added 10 for the Panthers. Kadesha Cooper was the only Lady Yellowjacket to score in double figures, finishing with 17 points.

Sheridan won the rebounding battle 27-22, but Cabot made 47 percent from the floor on 23 of 50 shooting. The Lady Panthers were abysmal from the foul line, however, making just 2 of 12 attempts for 17 percent while Sheridan hit 12 of 18.

Cabot opens play in the Pre-Holiday Classic at Panther Arena on Thursday. The Lady Panthers will play the third game of the day at 7 p.m. against Vilonia. The tournament begins at 4 p.m. with the Benton girls taking on Nemo Vista, followed by the Benton boys taking on Catholic. The Cabot boys will close the evening at approximately 8:30 against Vilonia.

SPORTS STORY >> NP beats Sacred Heart

Leader sports editor

The North Pulaski girls’ basketball team picked up its third win of the season on Saturday, beating Sacred Heart Academy of Morrilton 56-45 in the first round of the Conway Christian Invitational Tournament. The first quarter made the difference, as North Pulaski jumped out to an 18-9 lead with some hot outside shooting.

Sophomore guard Allison Seats hit a pair of 3-pointers and Zariah Holloway added another. The Lady Rebels stemmed the tide in the second quarter, but couldn’t get any closer than seven points, and that’s how it went into halftime. North Pulaski led 28-21 at the break and the two teams battled to a 15-15 tie in the third quarter.

Still trailing by several possessions, Sacred Heart was forced to extend its tightly-packed zone defense in the fourth quarter, and that opened things up inside for post player Raigen Thomas.

“They came out on us but they never did really try to foul us and extend the game,” NP coach Stacy Dalmut said of Sacred Heart. “I was a little surprised by that.”

Point guard Ilycia Carter did a good job of slowing down the Lady Falcons’ offense in the fourth quarter, and the whole team showed more patience down the stretch than it has most of the season.

“I was really proud to see Ilycia pull the ball out and recognize that you don’t have to take the first shot you see when you’ve got a lead,” Dalmut said. “Impatience has been a problem for us this year. It’s been one pass and throw something up a lot of the time. We did it a lot early in this game, but down the stretch we really did a good job there of moving the ball and getting the defense out of position. We got some wide open layups and that’s what you want with the lead.”

Seats led all scorers with 27 points while Thomas added 12 for North Pulaski. Taylor Ussery and Lindsey Bean led Sacred Heart with 12 and 10 points respectively.

North Pulaski, 3-4, plays Hector in the second round at 8:15 p.m. today. A win over Hector means a Thursday date with Joe T. Robinson at 4:45 in the semifinals. A loss to Hector means 10 a.m. game Saturday against J.A. Fair.

SPORTS STORY >> Panthers dominate early in each half

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Panthers opened their first road game of the season with a 10-0 run, paving the way for a 47-26 victory over the Sheridan Yellowjackets on Friday.

The Panthers hit the ground running, winning the opening tip and taking a quick three-point lead on the first shot of the game by point guard Bobby Joe Duncan. Sheridan took one shot and missed. Cabot got the rebound and center Jared Dixon hit another 3-pointer to quickly put the visiting team up 6-0.

The next bucket didn’t come so quickly after two Sheridan misses and a Cabot turnover. On the Panthers’ fourth possession, they got two offensive rebounds before forward Garrett Rowe got a putback for an 8-0 lead. Sheridan continued to miss from the floor and Cabot continued to dominate the boards. After another defensive stop, Cabot junior Hunter Southerland scored to make it a double-digit lead just three minutes into the game.

After a Sheridan timeout, the two teams traded several fruitless possessions, with Cabot committing two turnovers and Sheridan missing two free throws. Yellowjacket guard Jessie Feathers finally put the home team on the board, but Dixon made it a 10-point margin again on the next possession.

After two more points by each team, the game went into a long stretch without any scoring that stretched well into the second quarter. Cabot’s dry spell lasted longer than Sheridan’s, as the Panthers managed just two points the entire second quarter but still went into halftime with a lead.

Feathers hit a three for Sheridan to make it 14-7 two minutes into the second quarter, and by the middle of the frame, the Yellowjackets had pulled to within 14-12. Duncan finally scored for Cabot in the last minute of the half to send the Panthers into the locker room leading 16-12.

The game stayed close for the first half of the third quarter, but the Panthers went on a run in the latter part of the third that put them in command of the game. Leading 22-19, Cabot scored the final 12 points of the quarter with Tyler Hill scoring five-straight points to kick start the run. The Panthers continued stretching that lead throughout the fourth quarter, with the largest margin coming on a short jumper by Rowe that made it 46-23.

Duncan led Cabot with 12 points while Dixon added 11 for the Panthers. Feathers did almost all the scoring for Sheridan with 17 points.

The Panthers’ next game is in the first round of their own Pre-Holiday Classic, which will tip-off at 8:30 p.m. Thursday against Vilonia.

SPORTS STORY >> Carlisle girls get two 2A-6 victories

Leader sportswriter

The Carlisle Lady Bison played their first two conference games of the season last week, and won both games. On Dec. 2, the Carlisle girls went on the road and hammered Palestine-Wheatley 64-36, and on Friday, the Lady Bison got another double-digit 2A-6 win, beating Brinkley 58-35 at Bison Arena.

Carlisle’s press defense was highly effective in both games. Against Palestine-Wheatley, the Lady Bison got a total of 25 steals, which led to a lot of easy points in transition for Carlisle.

“We pressed them,” said Carlisle coach Jonathan Buffalo. “We put a lot of pressure on them. They turned the ball over to us and that led to a lot of easy baskets for everybody.

“Everybody did a real good job of moving their feet, cutting in through passing lanes and doing what we want to do, which is speed the game up. Like I told them, though, first conference game, going out on the road, any win’s a good win when you’re in conference.”

The Lady Bison led the Lady Patriots 20-8 at the end of the first quarter, and pushed their lead to 15 at halftime, leading 33-18. By the end of the third quarter, Carlisle held a comfortable 49-30 lead, and the Lady Bison furthered their lead in the final eight minutes.

Freshman standout Kylie Warren led the Lady Bison with 21 points against PW. She also had nine rebounds and five steals. Elex McClain also scored in double figures with 12. Sophomore guard Kayla Golleher had seven points. Nicquira Burnett had six.

Peyton Hitchings and Nikita Harper each scored five points, and teammates Molli Weems and Ashley Harbison had three points each.

Friday’s game at Bison Arena was close after a quarter of play. The Lady Bison led the Lady Tigers 13-12 at the start of the second quarter, but pushed their lead to seven at halftime, leading 28-21.

Warren scored 11 of her game-high 27 points in the third quarter to lead Carlisle to a 46-32 lead at the start of the fourth, and in the final quarter of play, the Lady Bison gave up just three points while adding 12 points to their side of the scoreboard to get the 23-point win over Brinkley.

Warren recorded a double-double against the Lady Tigers. In addition to her 27 points, she also had 13 rebounds.

“She’s a good player,” Buffalo said of his starting freshman. “She’s playing real well. We talk about not wanting to force things, but she’s done a good job and everybody’s done a good job. I’m getting contributions from everybody.”

Like Warren, McClain also scored in double figures against the Lady Tigers. She had 13 points. Hitchings had six. Golleher added four, and Weems and Burnett had three points apiece.

“Brinkley, they came out and hit some shots,” Buffalo said. “They were playing hard. I didn’t think in the beginning that we did a real good job of matching their intensity, but we decided to step up and play a little bit.

“We were able to push the lead near 20 in the third quarter. So we did a good job. When we pressed them, we were able to turn them over some, which helped us. We’re 2-0 in the conference. You can’t ask for a better start in the conference.

“We didn’t get a whole lot of nonconference games. We only got two. So we’re off to a good start. We’re playing eight, nine, 10 girls right now – rotating them in. We’re doing some good things and everybody’s contributing. So I’m pleased with where we’re at right now.”

The Lady Bison also played Saturday night in the Conway Christian tournament, but lost 54-41 to the tournament hosts. Warren was the only Lady Bison to score in double figures in that game. She had 21 points.

Carlisle continued conference play last night at Augusta after deadlines. The Lady Bison (3-2, 2-0) will play a nonconference game at 3:30 today against Sacred Heart in the consolation round of the Conway Christian tournament.

Carlisle will resume conference play Friday at Clarendon, and the Bison and Lady Bison will play their final home game of 2014 on Monday against 2A-6 rival Des Arc. Friday’s and Monday’s games tip off at 6 p.m. with the girls taking the floor first.

SPORTS STORY >> Devils bounce back at Conway

Leader sports editor

CONWAY – A sluggish start and sloppy finish didn’t stop the Jacksonville Red Devils from getting a win Monday in the first round of the Wampus Cat Invitational. Jacksonville utterly dominated Pine Bluff for the middle two quarters and it was enough for a 72-62 victory.

The win came on the heels of a terrible performance Saturday in the Battle of the Border, where the Red Devils lost 56-43 to Memphis Central, and provided Jacksonville coach Vic Joyner with some encouragement.

“You saw the patience we showed tonight,” Joyner said. “We moved the ball, cut harder without the ball and got open shots. That’s the difference in these two games. We had no patience when they tried to slow us down Saturday.”

Despite only one starter reaching 6-feet, Pine Bluff outrebounded Jacksonville in the first half. Red Devil senior forward Tedrick Wolfe showed a more determined approach to rebounding in the second half, grabbing six of his game-high 13 boards in the third quarter. He also led the Red Devils with 23 points and blocked three shots.

“We needed to rebound better,” Wolfe said. “That’s sort of my job, being the post player. So I just made the decision to work harder in the second half.”

Pine Bluff had 15 rebounds at the break to Jacksonville’s 10, but the Red Devils limited the Zebras to just five boards the entire second half and finished the game with a 29-20 rebound advantage.

Jacksonville won the opening tip and scored quickly when LaQuawn Smith got to the rim for a layup. It was the first and last made basket by Jacksonville in the opening quarter. The Red Devils did add a free throw, but missed 15-consecutive shots as Pine Bluff built a 15-3 lead.

“We worked the ball around and got some wide open shots, we just couldn’t make anything,” Joyner said. “I think they were a little tight, a little nervous after losing and looking so bad Saturday. Once they settled down they took it to them.”

Once Jacksonville made a basket, which came a minute into the second quarter, it sparked a six-minute, 26-10 run that gave the Red Devils a 28-25 lead. The Zebras scored the last basket of the half to go into intermission trailing by one, but the run didn’t stop with the break.

Jacksonville scored the first 12 points of the third quarter to take a 40-27 lead, and took a 52-37 lead into the fourth quarter. The margin reached as much as 18 when Devin Campbell completed a three-point play with the first shot of the fourth quarter. And despite Campbell scoring 12 of his 18 points in the final period, the Red Devils had trouble putting the Zebras away.

Pine Bluff cut the margin to as little as seven points with 1:29 remaining, but a technical foul on Zebra coach Charles Finley after a jump ball led to a four-point possession for Jacksonville and a 68-57 lead with 1:19 remaining.

The Red Devils continued to foul late in the game and give Pine Bluff points with the clock stopped, but also kept scoring at the other end to maintain control of the game.

“It just wasn’t smart basketball at the end,” Joyner said. “No sense in just giving them points, but overall it was a much better game than Saturday. We have to keep getting better every game and I thought tonight we got a little better. Still a long way to go though.”

Behind Wolfe’s 23 and Campbell’s 18, point guard Tyree Appleby scored 13 points and Smith added 10. Pine Bluff guard Marcus Thomas led all scorers with 31, including four 3-pointers and 7-for-7 shooting from the free-throw line. Guard C.J. Smith was the only other Zebra in double figures with 14 points.

Jacksonville made 24 of 58 shot attempts, including 3 of 11 3-pointers, and went 21 for 32 at the free-throw line. Pine Bluff hit six of 19 three-point attempts and went 21 of 49 overall from the field. The Zebras made 15 of 16 free throws.

Jacksonville, 6-2, gets a chance to avenge its first loss this season when it plays Hot Springs in the second round at Conway on Friday. The Trojans beat Bryant 74-54 on Monday.

EDITORIAL >> Infrastructure spending pays

County and city officials in Lonoke on Friday celebrated the official opening of the $9.6 million Hwy. 89 and I-40 interchange in Lonoke, which not only provides convenience to motorists but should encourage economic development in the area once the city extends water and sewer lines out there.

Plans for the interchange began more than 16 years ago. These projects take forever, but they’re worth fighting for. Right now, about $200 million in road construction is underway here or in the planning stages.

Major highway construction continues along Hwy. 67/167, where a hardworking, ever present crew is replacing both the Main Street and Redmond Road overpasses in Jacksonville to accommodate three lanes of traffic north and south, along with substantial shoulders, to take motorists to the highway.

The state Highway Commission has awarded a $42 million contract to James Construction Group of Baton Rouge, La.

The road widening and new overpasses will be an extension of the widening of Hwy. 67/167 from McCain Boulevard to Jacksonville.

Construction is set to start on seven miles of Hwy. 67/167 between Jacksonville and Hwy. 5 at Cabot. The roadway will be repaired, but only two lanes deep in each direction. It’s a temporary fix until the highway is widened and resurfaced beginning in 2019. The resurfacing contract will cost $2,696,218.

The $61 million reconstruction and widening between Main Street and Vandenberg Boulevard is scheduled to begin in 2016. The $70 million project between Vandenberg Boulevard and Hwy. 5 is scheduled for 2019.

As reporter John Hofheimer wrote here, Hwy. 67/167 is already a six-lane highway from I-40 to Redmond Road, and widening the highway from Main Street to Vandenberg is slated to begin in two years, about the time work will be completed on the Redmond Road-Main Street section.

Meanwhile, the design and environmental work has begun and traffic signals are being installed at the intersection of Hwy. 367 and Hwy. 38 at Cabot for the North Terminal Intersection. That will connect a loop around the city to a new interchange on Hwy. 67/167.

With proceeds from a sales tax, the city is providing $9.2 million of the $20 million project to allow continued growth in the area without further congestion on Hwy. 89 running through Cabot. The project was moved up because Cabot contributed nearly 50 percent to it.

But there’s still no progress on the final stretch of the North Belt Freeway because state and local leaders failed to secure a route from the Jacksonville bean fields at Hwy. 67/167 to I-430 in North Little Rock back in the prosperous 1990s. State highway officials should have lobbied the Clinton administration for $120 million needed to complete the project.

The cost has quadrupled since then and the freeway appears doomed unless community leaders pressure our congressional delegation to support a highway bill that would complete the North Belt. We’re counting on leadership from incoming Gov. Asa Hutchinson and legislative leaders, such as incoming House Speaker Jeremy Gilliam (R-Judsonia) and Sen. Eddie Joe Williams (R-Cabot). Better late than never.

TOP STORY >> Hero gave his life so his girls would live

A ceremony Saturday at Little Rock Air Force Base commemorated the life and heroism of Arkansas Guardsman Master Sgt. Daniel Wassom, who gave his life so his wife and daughters would live after a tornado hit their Vilonia home in April.

Wassom, 31, lost his life shielding his 5-year-old daughter, Lorelai, while his wife, Suzanne, shielded their 7-year-old daughter, Sydney, in the hallway of their home as an EF4 tornado — with winds of at least 180 mph — traveled 41 miles on a path that included Mayflower, Vilonia and El Paso.

The tornado killed 15 people, including Paula Blakemore, 55, of El Paso.

Wassom’s wife and parents, Pam and Dan Wassom Sr., who is retired from the Air Force, accepted the Airman’s Medal and participated in the dedication of a street in Dan’s name on the base.

The Airman’s Medal is awarded to Air Force members who risk their lives but not in combat.

Lt. Gen. Stanley E. Clark III, director of the Air National Guard and the top ranking Air National Guard member at the Pentagon, presided over the event and presented the Airman’s Medal to the family.

“I represent 105,000 airmen across 50 states, three territories and the District of Columbia.

“It is an honor and privilege to present this medal on behalf of the United States Air Force and the Air National Guard to the Wassom family,” Clark said.

A portion of the main road that runs through the 189th campus has been renamed and dedicated as Master Sgt. Dan Wassom Road.

Col. Robert Ator II, 189th Airlift Wing commander, said, “Dan was willing to step up when the time called for action.

“We are humbled by his character and will be reminded of him daily when we come to work and make that turn on Master Sgt. Dan Wassom Road.”

“Master Sgt. Wassom died as he lived, in service to others,” the colonel said.

Wassom was a loadmaster instructor in the 189th Airlift Wing.

He was deployed in 2010 in support of both Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

In addition to the Airman’s Medal, the Wassom family was presented two other medals that the master sergeant earned during his service in the 189th.

The Adjutant General of Arkansas, Maj. Gen. William D. Wofford, presented the Arkansas Distinguished Service Medal.

Ator presented the Meritorious Service Medal.

TOP STORY >> 70,000 lightbulbs for Christmas

The home of Rodney and JoAnn Davis at 9604 Jacksonville Conway Road has been decorated with thousands of Christmas lights for 13 years. “The Griswolds have nothing up against me. I leave them on all day on Christmas Eve and Christmas so Santa can see it. My satisfaction is hearing the oohs and aahs and seeing the flash bulbs going off. Church groups will pull up and sing carols,” Rodney Davis said.


Leader staff writer

North Pulaski County residents Rodney and JoAnn Davis have turned on the light display at their home, 9604 Jacksonville Conway Road, again as Christmas approaches.

“The Griswolds have nothing up against me,” Rodney Davis said, referring to 1989 holiday favorite National Lampoon’s “Christmas Vacation.”

He has decorated his house and yard for the past 13 years. This year, Rodney Davis changed the display by adding 13 trees of lights and two trees that fade in and out along the house.

“We do it so people will enjoy it. So many neighbors want to see the lights,” Rodney Davis said.

Rodney Davis started working on the display the weekend following Halloween. It takes four weeks to put together the whole display of 70,000 lights, he said. They are turned on from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day. His favorite pieces are the Nativity scene and the Noel sign.

“I leave them on all day on Christmas Eve and Christmas so Santa can see it. My satisfaction is hearing the oohs and aahs and seeing the flash bulbs going off. Church groups will pull up and sing carols,” Rodney Davis said.

“The light display is dedicated to my wife and my grandchildren,” he added.

TOP STORY >> Christmas tree farms

Leader staff writer

Two local Christmas tree farms are integral to many deeply rooted family traditions of picking out a live fresh tree. For more than 30 years, Geisler’s Holiday Forest at 8817 Dorsey Road in northern Pulaski County and Schilling’s Family Christmas Tree Farm at 1476 Hwy. 294 near Furlow in Lonoke County have been growing and selling trees.

Geisler’s Holiday Forest is owned by Jim and Ella Geisler. They purchased Holiday Forest in 1984 from John and Becky Rissinger, who planted the first trees in 1976. The 10-acre farm has Virginia Pine, Eastern White Pine, Leyland Cypress, Eastern Red Cedar, Arizona, Blue Ice and Carolina Sapphire Cypress trees. They sell 200 to 300 trees a year.

Geisler’s tree farm has free hayrides, hot spiced tea, candy canes, tree shaking to remove needles and netting for transportation. They can also drill holes in the bottoms of trunks, if that is needed to put the trees in stands.

Schilling’s Family Christmas Tree Farm was started in 1982 by Barbara and Joe Schilling and is co-owned by their son, Brian Hibbs.

“Our customers prefer the Virginia Pine and Leland Cypress. A few want Frazier Firs we bring in from North Carolina,” Barbara Schilling said.

Schilling’s farm makes wreaths and covers trees with artificial snow. They have wagon rides and candy canes. They also shake the trees and can offer baling.

The Schillings’ 10-acre tree farm sells 800 to 1,200 trees a year.

“Customers come from all over: Hot Springs, DeValls Bluff and Batesville. The air base is a big draw,” Barbara Schilling said.

Dot Webb of England said, “I’ve been coming here for 25 years. I came with my mom, and now I’m bringing my kids. I’m just glad they’re here.”

Sarah Casey of Sherwood said, “We wanted a real Christmas tree for our baby’s first Christmas. Our friends come here, and they had a pretty tree.”

Jim Geisler is a retired forester. He said one problem Christmas tree farmers run into is they lose a lot of acreage on the edges of the farms because they are surrounded by hardwoods and pine trees. Those trees cast shade in the summer, and their roots span out to compete for water.

Geisler is able to grow a crop of Eastern White Pines on the cooler north-facing slope of his farm.

But “the White Pine has a very poor survival rate. It’s a beautiful tree, but it too hot and dry in the summer to grow south of the Arkansas River,” Geisler said.

Barbara Schilling said tree farming can be a challenging business. Trees have to grow four to five years before the first harvest. A bad batch of winter weather can affect sales.

“So far, the weather has been nice. Last year was tough with ice during the weekend. In the summer, it is a lot of work. We shear and shape the trees once in spring and once in summer,” she said.

Geisler, 75, said, “We need new younger Christmas tree growers to come in. Everyone is getting old.”

According to the 2012 Census of Agriculture, the number of Christmas tree farms in the state has declined by about half — from 59 in 2007 to 29 in 2012. The number of Christmas trees farm acreage has dropped from 562 in 2007 to 227 in 2012.

“There are a few reasons for the decrease in farms in Arkansas. One is that we don’t have the climate to grow the species that people want, such as Noble, Frazier or Douglas firs,” said Tamara Walkingstick, associate director of the Arkansas Forest Resources Center.

Walkingstick said the demand for Christmas trees has decreased, too. The price of the trees has not increased, but the cost of growing has.

“It’s hard for tree growers to make money,” Walkingstick said.

Many growers have turned their tree farms into agro-tourism opportunities that include holiday photo ops, hot chocolate, petting zoos and other family friendly activities.

“Christmas tree farming isn’t a big-dollar business. Growers have to diversify and sell the whole Christmas tree experience to offset rises in the cost of growing the trees,” Walkingstick said.

Norma Patterson with Schilling’s tree farm said, “Support Arkansas farm families and try to buy from local people.”

Schilling said, “It’s a lot more fun than going to a big-box store that brings in trees.” Most of Schilling’s advertising is word of mouth and repeat customers.

She said they also allow schools and daycares to come out on field trips at no charge. They are able to the see the tree growing. Pets are welcomed but have to be on a leash.

“A real tree is the way to go,” Schilling added.

This is the last weekend for Geisler’s Holiday Forest to be open from 9 a.m. to dark on Saturday and from 1 p.m. to dark on Sunday. It also opens on weekdays by appointment by calling 501-224-3797.

The Schilling’s Family Christmas Tree Farm is open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday. They will sell trees until Dec. 21, the Sunday before Christmas. Their phone number is 501-982-1046.