Friday, December 26, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Hogs resuming an old rivalry

Special to The Leader

The football world won’t end for Monday night’s Advocare Texas Bowl loser in Houston – the bowl that pits a pair of 6-6 teams trying to rebuild toward matching their former Southwest Conference days.

Arkansas of the SEC and Texas of the Big 12 kick off at 8 p.m. Monday on ESPN at the NFL Houston Texans’ NRG Stadium.

For second-year coach Bret Bielema’s Razorbacks, who are coming off a 3-9, 0-8 in the SEC 2013 season, just going 6-6 beat the odds.

All eight of the Razorbacks’ SEC games were played against teams ranked at the time in the AP national Top 20, including six in the Top Ten. Among four nonconference games, the Hogs visited the Big 12’s Texas Tech and hosted a Northern Illinois team then holding the nation’s longest road game winning streak.

Arkansas swept all four nonconference games. In the SEC, Arkansas skunked 17th-ranked LSU 17-0 and eighth-ranked Ole Miss 30-0 for its two league wins. And other than the second half against Auburn and first half against Georgia, was competitive throughout every SEC game, including nail-biting losses to present No. 1 Alabama, then No. 1 Mississippi State, Texas A&M and Missouri.

Already buoyed by junior 1,000-yard rusher Jonathan Williams’ announcement on Christmas Eve to return for his 2015 senior year and not turn pro, the Razorbacks can build off defeat in Houston. But they would much rather build off a victory, and not just because it would insure a winning season instead of a losing one. It would mean they beat Texas, still the team many Razorbacks fans want to beat more than any other team, despite that Arkansas and Texas last played a Southwest Conference game in 1991.

The rivalry used to have national reverberations when 90-year-old retired athletic director Frank Broyles coached Arkansas and the late fellow Hall of Famer Darrell Royal coached Texas.

After hearing from Broyles about this bowl selection, Bielema said, “It gave me chills. We stand on the shoulders of those who came before us and it gave me a full circle of what it means to play Texas to a certain generation and how much has to be carried forward to our players.”

First-year Texas coach Charlie Strong, an Arkansan from Batesville, also knows his Longhorns can live with a loss, but would live a whole lot better beating an Arkansas team that Texas has defeated 56 times out of 77 matchups in the rivalry’s history. The staunchest of Longhorn fans still bitterly anguished over each of those 21 defeats.

Both teams mostly rely on defense.

Texas All-American tackle Malcom Brown, fellow 300-pounds-plus tackle Hassan Ridgeway and linebackers Steve Edmond and Jordan Hicks combine for 49 tackles behind the line for negative 174 yards.

Arkansas senior first-team All-SEC linebacker Martrell Spaight leads the SEC with 123 tackles. He, along with senior All-SEC second-team defensive end Trey Flowers and sophomore All-SEC second-team tackle Darius Philon combined for 32 tackles-for-loss for negative 146 yards.

Overall, the secondary behind Arkansas’ heralded trio is the Razorbacks’ most improved defensive aspect from last season.

Texas’ offense has struggled, losing starting quarterback David Ash early in the season to a career-ending injury.

However, sophomore replacement Tyrone Swoopes, 6-4, 243, reminds Arkansas backup defensive end and Forrest City High grad Tevin Beanum of Dak Prescott, the Mississippi State first-team All-SEC quarterback.

“He’s a bigger guy but he can move,” Beanum said. “We have to be aware that he likes to take it up vertical and out of the pocket.”

Swoopes’ passing can be erratic with 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, but he has a 1,000-yard receiver in John Harris, 64 for 1,015 and a good possession receiver, Jaxon Shipley, 58 for 571.

Malcolm Brown, no relation to defensive tackle Malcom Brown, leads Texas’s rushers with 176 carries for 683 yards.

Arkansas junior quarterback Brandon Allen is 178 for 316 for 2,125 yards and 18 touchdowns and just five picks, a dramatic improvement from last season. All is also improved physically since Arkansas’ last game. In the regular-season finale at Missouri, Allen injured his oblique muscle, which impaired him immensely from rolling out in the second half of the SEC finale at Missouri.

The running game is Arkansas’ strength, though the Hogs found it harder to run against SEC defenses than their nonconference foes. Williams is just one of two 1,000-yard backs this year with 1,085 yards. Sophomore Alex Collins has rushed for 1,024.

Arkansas has played a tougher schedule than Texas and has the more impressive wins with its shutouts of then No. 8 and No. 17th-ranked teams.

A 33-16 decision over 24th-ranked West Virginia is Texas’ most impressive victory. The ‘Horns were routed 41-7, 28-7 and 48-10 by Brigham Young and 11-1 Big 12 co-champions Baylor and TCU.

To Las Vegas odds makers, all that has added up to Arkansas being favored by six to 6.5 points.

SPORTS STORY >> Jacksonville dominates fourth, defeats Central

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville Red Devils struggled a little more with the 2-6 Tigers of Little Rock Central than coach Vic Joyner would’ve liked, but they closed with a dominant fourth quarter that Joyner liked very much, earning a 69-54 win in the last game of the McDonald’s Red Devil Classic at JHS on Tuesday.

“We didn’t come out with the kind of intensity I want to see, but big teams are going to give us trouble,” said Joyner. “That’s a big team and we had to adjust how to attack and defend. We weren’t getting a body on a body in the first half and they were getting a lot of second-chance points. We did a better job of rebounding in the second half and we did a better job of attacking the basket. It was a much better performance overall, than the one (Monday).”

The night before, Joyner said there was nothing good to take away from a 60-47 win against Catholic. He was much more pleased on Tuesday, especially with his starting unit and with three players particularly.

Devin Campbell, Tyree Appleby and Tedrick Wolfe combined for 55 of the team’s 69 points. That trio scarcely left the floor throughout the game, a marked difference from the wholesale substitutions frequently seen throughout Jacksonville’s pre-conference season.

“It’s conference time now,” Joyner said. “We got to go with who we got to go with. We need those guys on the floor and these other ones are going to have to just be ready when their number is called. We’re still going to go pretty deep down the bench, but now is the time when it starts to count. We have to go with who we have to go with.”

The Tigers controlled the pace early, slowing the tempo with a 1-2-2 zone defense.

Appleby, a sophomore point guard, scored all three of Jacksonville’s field goals in the opening frame while Campbell added one free throw. Central held a 12-7 lead at the end of one quarter, but Jacksonville found a way to push the pace in the second frame.

The Red Devils took their first lead of the game with 5:20 left in the first half. Campbell grabbed a defensive rebound and went the distance of the floor for a layup that put the Classic hosts up 18-17.

With full-court pressure, Jacksonville extended that margin to 30-23 by halftime. A 3-pointer by Braylon James set the score at the break.

The Tigers again controlled the pace in the third quarter, but didn’t control the boards like they did in the first half.

Central managed to close the gap to 49-44 by the end of the third, but also began to struggle to contain Campbell in the lane. The 6-foot-3 Campbell scored nine points in the third quarter, including five at the foul line, where he continued to find himself in the fourth period.

The Red Devils grabbed control of the game quickly in the fourth quarter, opening the frame with an 8-0 run for a 57-44 lead.

Central didn’t lose any further ground, but couldn’t get enough defensive stops to gain any ground. Wolfe and Campbell controlled the inside while James buried two more 3-pointers to keep the Tigers at bay.

Jacksonville began to put on a show in the final minute against the fatigued Tigers. Campbell spotted a crease in the Tiger defense with a minute left and exploded down the lane for a thunderous two-handed dunk. Appleby then stole a cross-court pass and dished to Wolfe for another two-hander that went for Jacksonville’s final points of the night.

Central’s Donald Richardson scored with 10 seconds left to set the final margin.

Forward Brennan Johnson led the Tigers with 20 points and eight boards while center Raekwon Rogers added 12 points and five rebounds.

Campbell led all scorers with 26 points and added eight rebounds. He shot 14 of Jacksonville’s 15 free-throw attempts, and made all 10 of the Red Devils’ successful foul shots.

Appleby finished with 15 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and two steals. Wolfe recorded a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds, and added four blocked shots and three assists. James added nine for Jacksonville on 3 of 6 shooting from outside the arc.

Central shot 30 percent from the floor on 21 of 70 shooting while Jacksonville hit 26 of 59 for 44 percent. Both teams made 5 of 20 three-point attempts and Central hit 7 of 11 from the foul stripe. Jacksonville won the rebounding battle 36-35.

Both teams next play on Jan. 6. Central hosts Catholic in the 7A-Central Conference opener while Jacksonville hosts J.A. Fair in the 5A-Central opener.

SPORTS STORY >> NP boys outlast Rockets

Leader sports editor

The North Pulaski Falcons closed the Red Devil Classic with a 66-56 overtime win over Catholic High on Tuesday at Jacksonville High School. The Falcons lost 61-58 to Little Rock Central in game one on Monday after leading from the opening tip until only one minute remained in the game.

Tuesday’s game was a back-and-forth affair, but North Pulaski still led throughout the fourth quarter before again having trouble closing the deal.

North Pulaski’s De’Marik Brown hit a 3-pointer with 35 seconds remaining that broke a brief tie. Catholic’s Lance Harville-Thomas then got a bucket at the other end and the Rockets fouled Isaiah Brown. He hit 1 of 2 free throws to make it a two-point game. The Falcons then fouled Harville-Thomas, who drained both free throws with seconds remaining to send the game into overtime.

“It kind of got to me a little bit,” said North Pulaski coach Roy Jackson about losing a fourth-quarter lead for the second-straight game. “The night before we lost to Central the exact same way. We didn’t knock down free throws when we had a chance to put the game away. But the kids responded to the challenge in overtime. You worry when you’re the team that lost the lead about them having the momentum.”

Catholic, however, looked spent in the extra period. Passes floated and turned into NP steals, and outside shots fell short.

“We turned up the intensity in the second half and I think our half-court and full-court trap was getting to them,” Jackson said. “And I think playing Jacksonville the night before and dealing with the same thing, their guards were just tired. You could see it in the overtime. Everything they put up fell short and we weren’t making it easy for them.”

The Falcons still didn’t shoot free throws well in the overtime, making just 4 of 9 and finishing the game 6 of 14.

“We have to shoot free throws better than that, but we have to do a better job of getting to the line than that too,” Jackson said. “We only shot five free throws in regulation. We have some kids that can shoot, but we have to have someone get some penetration and score the basketball or get to the line.”

Catholic led 25-20 at halftime but North Pulaski’s best quarter was the third, when it outscored the Rockets 23-12 to take a 43-37 lead into the final frame.

De’Marik Brown led the Falcons, 2-8, with 25 points while Isaiah Brown finished with 12. Brandon England added 10 for North Pulaski.

Harville-Thomas scored 20 for the Rockets (1-9) while Jacob Stone added 12.

SPORTS STORY >> Devils ward off charging Lady Falcons

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville Lady Red Devils saw a huge lead almost completely evaporate before regrouping for a 54-47 win over crosstown rival North Pulaski on Tuesday. It was a nonconference matchup between in the two 5A-Central teams on the second day of play in the McDonald’s Red Devil Classic at JHS.

The Lady Red Devils totally dominated the first two and a half quarters of play, holding the Lady Falcons without a field goal until the 4:19 mark of the second quarter. The home team took a 31-12 lead into halftime and extended the lead to its largest at 39-17 in the third quarter. From that point until the halfway point of the fourth quarter, North Pulaski went on a 26-5 run to pull within 44-43 with 4:24 remaining.

Jacksonville coach William Rountree called three timeouts to try and stem the tide before it got that close, but the Lady Falcon run continued until it reached one point.

From there, Jacksonville scored the next six-straight to reclaim control of the game, holding a 50-43 lead with 1:49 remaining.

North Pulaski sophomore Allison Seats led the Lady Falcons’ second-half surge, scoring 19 of her 25 points in the second half. She was a focal point of Jacksonville’s defensive game plan entering the game.

“We knew coming in that No. 12 (Seats) is a great little player,” said Rountree of the 5-foot-1 Seats. “I think we got a big lead and we got comfortable. But you know we’re still battling from an experience standpoint, and this was a good learning experience for us. Hopefully we learned a good lesson tonight. We still got a win and we’ll get better from it.”

North Pulaski coach Stacy Dalmut took little consolation in her team’s valiant comeback – noting her team’s sudden lack of spark when the run came to an end one point short.

“We got right there but we didn’t finish it,” said Dalmut. “I don’t know why were dominated like that for a brief while and then stopped. Maybe we were tired but that just means we have to be in better shape. The main thing is we have to come out like that from the beginning, and play the whole game that way. If we’ll just do that, we’ll beat this team.”

Two free throws by Seats and one by Ilycia Carter were all the points NP could muster in the first quarter as Jacksonville guard Antrice McCoy dominated the early action. She scored 11 of Jacksonville’s 12 first-quarter points. The Lady Red Devils got three steals on three-straight NP possessions to start the second quarter to take a 19-3 lead with five minutes left in the half. McCoy scored 15 of her 26 in the first half.

Jerrica Hardaway scored the basket that gave Jacksonville its biggest lead before the Lady Falcons mounted their furious rally. The gap closed from 39-17 to 42-31 by the end of the third quarter. NP then opened the fourth quarter with a 12-2 run, including nine in a row to get it to 44-43.

Seats provided the game’s highlight reel play during the fourth-quarter run. She got a steal in the backcourt and drove to the bucket towards McCoy, who was alone to defend the fast break. McCoy fouled Seats and spun her away from the basket, but Seats flipped the ball backwards over her head and scored to set up the and-1 free throw. She made the foul shot but a lane violation nullified it, leaving the score 44-38 with 5:03 remaining in the game.

Jacksonville then missed two free throws and Carter completed an and-1 at the other end to make it 44-41. Seats then got another steal and hit a short jumper to cut the margin to one point.

Missed free throws by Jacksonville played a huge role in North Pulaski’s comeback as well. Jacksonville made just 6 of 18 foul shots during NP’s run, and just 11 of 29 for the game.

“You’re not going to win very many like that,” Rountree said. “That’s an area we’ve struggled all season, but there’s no reason we can’t shoot better than 35 percent.”

It was, ironically, at the foul line where Jacksonville finally sealed the game. Post player Tatiana Lacy hit 3 of 4 in the final minute to extend the Lady Devils’ lead.

The Lady Falcons made 12 of 22 free throws and field-goal percentage was bad by both teams.

Jacksonville (5-7) made 20 of 64 for 31.3 percent, while North Pulaski (3-8) hit 16 of 62 shots for 25.8 percent. North Pulaski outrebounded Jacksonville 37-36.

Lacy finished second in scoring for Jacksonville with eight points, and led the team with eight rebounds. Carter finished with 11 points and six rebounds for NP, while Raigen Thomas, who fouled out with 2:11 remaining, finished with seven points and 10 rebounds for NP.

North Pulaski is off for two weeks before resuming play on Jan. 6 at home in the conference opener against Pulaski Academy. Jacksonville also opens conference play at home on Jan. 6 against J.A. Fair.

EDITORIAL >> Who loves fruitcake?

A few times every year, I question God’s intentions.

In the summertime, I wonder why He created mosquitoes, and, in the wintertime, I wonder what He was thinking when He allowed fruitcake to come into this world.

If an employee gets a fruitcake from the boss, the first thought is: “Oh my, I’m going to be fired.” A fruitcake from a friend means you are definitely no longer Best Friends Forever. And a fruitcake from the Mafia, well, that’s worse than a horse’s head in bed.

In fact, according to the late, great Johnny Carson, “There is only one fruitcake in the entire world, and people keep sending it to each other.”

It’s amazing how most people — nearly everyone — dislikes, despises and even hates fruitcake. It is probably the most re-gifted gift around Christmastime. Get one this year, hang onto it and re-gift it next year. I got a fruitcake last year that was made in 1956, and it looked just as good, or bad, as it did the first year it came out.

Now, my Uncle Leroy is different when it comes to fruitcake. He loves the stuff. He loves it so much that neighbors in a four-block radius of his house no longer use the fruitcake for a doorstop or an emergency brick to plug a hole in the wall. They all give the darn things to my uncle — and he snacks on them all year long. Of course, you’ve got to know my uncle; he is the exception to many things.

But how did this plague on humanity get started? And yes, I know it’s not God’s fault.

It’s the fault of those pesky colonists and their cheap sugar.

It was either a Quaker or Puritan, no one knows for sure, who discovered that fruit could be preserved by soaking it in successively greater concentrations of sugar, intensifying color and flavor. Not only could native plums and cherries be conserved. Soon fruits were being imported in candied form from other parts of the world.

Having so much sugar-laced fruit engendered the need to dispose of it in some way — thus the fruitcake. By the early 19th Century, the typical recipe was heavy as lead with citrus peel, pineapples, plums, dates, pears and cherries.

Fruitcake nuts were also an American idea, probably because America’s foremost fruitcake makers — Collin Street Bakery in Corsicana, Texas, and Claxton Bakery of Claxton, Ga. — were in rural Southern communities with a surplus of cheap nuts — hence the phrase “nutty as a fruitcake.”

Unlike local mosquitoes that seemingly increase in population every summer, the number of fruitcakes populating landfills is decreasing, partially because of new laws that say no one can place an item that never dissolves or decomposes in a dump, and partially because so few people buy the stuff.

But the fruitcake will never completely disappear, drats!

It is needed for the annual Great Fruitcake Toss in Manitou Springs, Colo., where, if you don’t own a fruitcake, you can rent one for 25 cents.

And my uncle would surely die if his closet isn’t wall-to-wall fruitcake. So, if you received a dreaded fruitcake this season and need my uncle’s address, just let me know. — Rick Kron

TOP STORY >> Broker celebrates 30-year career

Leader staff writer

Jack Meadows, an executive broker at Doug Wilkinson Realty in Jacksonville, recently celebrated his 30th year with the company.

Meadows, 78, joined DWR in 1984 after a 25-year career in the Air Force and four years as a social worker.

Meadows said he was retired and looking for a job with a flexible schedule. He wanted something interesting and to work with people. He bought his first home from Doug Wilkinson.

“I do it because I love it,” Meadows said.

“In real estate, you have to know yourself. It is a people business,” he noted.

Meadows thought about starting his own realty company, but chose to be a broker with DWR rather than deal with learning all the regulations.

“I could be retired, but I love real estate,” Meadows said.

He also said he works to keep himself active. Meadows plans to continue his career in realty for a few more years.

“I help out other agents when I can,” he said.

Meadows earned an Graduate Realtor Institute designation from the National Association of Realtors. He also has a certified residential specialist designation.

He has been a member of the education and grievance committee and is a life member of the North Pulaski Board of Realtors.

Meadows was living in Jonesboro when he dropped out school after the eighth grade to care for his aging father, a World War I veteran, and help raise his three younger siblings after his parents divorced.

He joined the Air Force in 1954. Meadows was a mechanic, an instructor at the Air Force Leadership School and a senior Titan II missile program instructor.

Meadows earned his General Education Development certificate in 1957. He started taking college classes in 1965 and graduated from Louisiana Tech with a bachelor’s degree in social science in 1974. He earned a master’s degree in human relations from Webster University in 1976.

“I enjoy learning and teaching. My goal was to serve in the military and get all the educational experience that I could,” Meadows said.

TOP STORY >> Living WAGE: Job skills for adults

Leader staff writer

The Jacksonville Adult Education Center is where adults can better their lives and open the door to more job opportunities.

Located near the railroad overpass on 104 S. First St., the center is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Evening classes are offered from 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday.

The center has four instructors and classes to help adult students obtain WAGE certificates and Microsoft Suite certifications. It also offers General Educational Development classes to prepare for the GED test and English as a second language classes.

The Jacksonville center is part of the Arkansas Department of Career Education and the Pulaski County Special School District’s Adult Education-Workforce Alliance for Growth in the Economy program.

“People think the adult education center is for college or vocational school. It is for people getting their GED and computer literacy skills for the workplace,” Jacksonville center instructor Kathy Middlebrooks said.


The Jacksonville center can help students prepare for the GED test.

Middlebrooks explained that students first take the Test of Adult Basic Education to determine what areas they need to study.

Then students take the GED Ready, a practice test for the GED that costs $24. The GED test costs $16 and is subsidized by the state. It is given at the Adult Education Center at 4300 Haywood St. in North Little Rock.

A graduation is held in the spring for students who pass the GED test. The state issues them an Arkansas High School diploma.

Middlebrooks said some students are apprehensive about the new GED test, which is taken on a computer.

“Being on the computer, you get same-day results. No more waiting for weeks or months to find out if you passed,” Middlebrooks said.

The GED test is aligned with the new high school standards.

“It really measures your abilities compared to a high school student,” Middlebrooks said.


Jade Carpenter, 18, of Sherwood is trying to get her GED. She wants to go to the Arts Institute in Nashville and be a tattoo artist.

Carpenter dropped out of school this year and is living with her aunt in Sherwood. She had the opportunity to go back to high school but chose to get her GED instead.

“I was really immature. There was way too much drama at Vilonia High School. I want to get my GED so I can prove my parents wrong. They didn’t believe in me. I was kicked out of my home after turning 18. My parents said that I would be a dropout, pregnant and wouldn’t amount to anything,” Carpenter said.

Angelia Hamilton, 50, of Little Rock needs a GED for a job. She dropped out of North Pulaski High School in the 11th grade because her mom gave her a choice; either enter the workforce and earn money or continue to go to school in special-education classes.

Hamilton said she was 16 when she was hired as a bookbinder at a factory, making $300 a week. “(Now) when I was looking for work, (employers) would ask if I had a GED or high school diploma, but then they would not give a second chance,” Hamilton said.


The Arkansas Department of Career Education has partnered with Microsoft Information Technology Academy for students to earn certificates in advanced levels of proficiency in PowerPoint, Word, Excel and Outlook computer programs. The training is offered at no charge.

Theresa Duke of Jacksonville, who is unemployed, is working on getting certified in Microsoft Suite. She is updating her skills in Microsoft Suite 2010 because her former employer was using Microsoft 2007 and recently upgraded to Microsoft 2013.

“The program is great. I’ve found this beneficial, and I’ve learned a lot. They’ve been easy to work with. I’m able to work at my own pace,” Duke said.


The WAGE program offers free job skills training and certificates in industrial, customer service, banking, employability and office technology. Many businesses partnered with the WAGE program recognize the WAGE job training certificates.

The WAGE center has a career coach to help people with their resumes. The center teaches them how to fill out job applications, interviewing skills and how to apply for college aid. A nutritionist comes in on Tuesdays to teach them about healthy eating tips.

For more information, or to enroll, call 501-985-3560.

TOP STORY >> 2014 Year in Review

Compiled by RICK KRON

Editor’s note: This is the third in a four-part series looking back at 2014. The first three articles looked at the major headlines, while the fourth will review the Top 10 storylines of the year.

The historic birthing of a school district, candidate debates and the elections occupied most of the news space during the last four months of the year.


• Silence from sound study deafening – Eight weeks later, officials don’t know why noise expert hasn’t completed his work at Jacksonville firing range.

• Bomb threat at CJHS causes lockdown – Perpetrators will be expelled, superintendent says.

• New district would build two schools – Land offered by the air base may be site for district’s new high school.

• Lake is sending water to Beebe – $56 million project will supply several communities in the group.

• Ward homeowners to save on insurance – New rating means resident will pay less because city offers better fire protection.

• High on hope, shooting range shows a deficit – an increase in sales tax would bring a small profit to Jacksonville facility.

• State highway funds depleted – Switch road-user tax to the Highway Department or increase fuel tax, director says.

• Historic vote establishes new district – Group will now ask state to approve new district and election school board next September.

• Revenue increase credited to range – Prepared food sales tax has seen some of the its best summer months in years.

• Killer worked at Cabot school gym – Murderer was part of a prison work crew at the junior high.

• Pit bull kills neighbor’s horse – Restitution sought as dog owner pleads not guilty in court and animal is placed in quarantine.

• Thurman honored as state’s top chief – Cabot superintendent wins second statewide honor for his leadership in growing school district.

• Cabot ends prison labor in schools – Controversy over a convicted murderer working at a school brings ban.

• Weekend festivals go head to head – Jacksonville, Sherwood and Searcy hope for big crowds at their city-sponsored fun-filled events.

• Runway, landing strip overhaul – A $107 million contract will replace or resurface LRAFB runway, landing strip, along with new lights and navigational aids.

• Metroplan offers ambitious agenda – Central Arkansas group to seek public comment on 25-year plan, including $19.5 billion for transportation, development, maintenance and repairs.

• Mayor hopefuls speak of plans – Incumbent Gary Fletcher and challenger Gary Sipes share visions for city with chamber of commerce members.


• School funding needs tweaking – Jacksonville optimistic state matching will be there for facilities.

• Suspect: Long life of crime – Arron Lewis, charged in the death of a real estate agent, is a serial offender who was paroled in 2013. His wife, Crystal Lowery, was arrested later and also faces capital murder and kidnapping charges.

• Medical complex for Jacksonville – Vacant 9.25-acre lot will have clinic, outpatient and surgery center, doctors’ offices and more.

• Veteran lawman for Austin police – Lt. James Kulesa of the Lonoke County Sheriff’s Office nabs top city law job.

• CabotFest looks to a big weekend – the annual festival marks the rebirth of a resilient community after deadly tornado.

• Cabot academy touts freshman – The new $22 million campus offers ninth graders more state-of-the-art features.

• Greystone residents balk at obligatory fee – Attempt to save golf course with annual levy on nearby residents brings out opposition.

• Contest gets mean, nasty – Raucous Second District race pits former NLR mayor and banker.

• Conway convict guilty of murders – Family of Cabot couple weeps, join hands as verdict is read.

• Pit bull owner innocent – Judge says Lonoke County vicious dog ordinance not violated when dog attacked and killed horse.

• Candidates take jabs in debate – Jacksonville mayoral hopefuls in the firing line during an appearance at the community center.

• Mayor of Cabot and his predecessor defend records – Cypert seeks another term as Stumbaugh is hoping for a comeback.

• Firing range financials show small profit – Critics say officials cover up losses at new facility, but Jacksonville defends numbers.

• Foundation will pay off range grant – The shooting complex will receive funds to shrink $3 million loan.

• Doolittle Award goes to historic 19th AW – Wing at Little Rock Air Force Base gets a major award for decades of global achievement.

• Fletcher, Sipes: They both won – Candidates for Jacksonville mayor take a critical look back on their debate’s pros and cons.

• Issues for trio key to victory – Mayoral candidates Virginia Hillman, Doris Anderson and Don Berry talk about the future of Sherwood.

• AARP hosts Stumbaugh, Cypert duel – Mayor lists investments in library, sports complex, highway interchange while predecessor denies he mismanaged city hall.

• Easing flooding on city agenda – Sherwood subdivision residents promised relief from aldermen and others.

• Interim school board names down to 10 – Many familiar names make the cut and interviews set for early November.

• Chamber searches for chief – Amy Mattison steps down from top post, but stays as events coordinator.


• Panel picks a board for new district – Legislative committee sends names to state Education Department for approval to help run Jacksonville schools.

• All five mayors re-elected – Fletcher, Cypert, Hillman, Brooke and McGee beat back challengers in their towns.

• Report on range released – Only people in parking lot affected by shots; other areas fall within codes.

• Resorting to Plan B on booze – Organizers still hope to do away with alcohol restrictions in Sherwood and Jacksonville.

• Private option needs lifeline in legislature – Lawmakers will scrutinize funding for unique health insurance plan for working poor, but outgoing speaker says he remains optimistic it will survive.

• Wing going to Africa to fight Ebola – Our airmen will fly to Senegal in big push to eradicate disease.

• JP vote awaits military ballots – North Pulaski County race will be settled when overseas military ballots are counted.

• Schools underachieve – State says Jacksonville and Sherwood schools need improving.

• Consultant, city part ways after meager results – Jacksonville teams up with chamber after paying Hayes $244,750.

• Thurman fights rankings – Many high-performing schools listed as underachieving due to unreasonable requirements, he complains.

• Lonoke tax collections double in 10 years – Over past decade, revenue sources have increased for the city because of retail growth.

• Lonoke JPs investigate money abuses – Assessor accused of misusing credit card and deputy clerk fired as computers found missing.

• Award is given to wing – LRAFB gets second prestigious prize in recent weeks for excellence.

• State rankings put schools in bad light – Only one school among the Searcy, Beebe and Lonoke districts is achieving, according to recently released test data.

• History made with district’s first meeting – New school board begins work of revitalizing schools in Jacksonville.

• Survey misleads on violent crime – Website uses outdated numbers and leaves out smaller towns.

• Commissioners are told they must resign – Three civil service members involved in political campaigning; two resign.

• Funds for new Sherwood library – New millage rate will start in May, and aldermen also support getting review of subdivision flooding.

• More courthouse security sought – Prosecutor in Lonoke County tells JPs they must take precautions.


• Lester to put his stamp on new district – The former PCSSD superintendent and Jacksonville High School principal comes out of retirement again to help pave the way for Jacksonville’s new district.

• Lonoke overpass officially opened – Interchange on I-40 is touted as major economic boom for the area.

• Chief makes plans for 2015 – Jacksonville’s top cop wants to reach out to every neighborhood.

• Toxic sites seen safe, to receive inspection – Dioxin-contaminated landfills are well protected, state environmental officials tell EPA.

• Criminals go after checking account in Ward – Indian gang forges city’s check, but officials say money is safe.

• Toddler walks in pond while mom is on phone – Sherwood woman charged with endangering the welfare of a child.

• District prepared for judge – New Jacksonville district and PCSSD will submit clarification documents for status hearing in federal court.

• Wreaths honor Cabot’s fallen – Memorial service at high school salutes six service members as part of national wreath program.

• Base assists Afghan Air Force – Lt. Col. Garcia with the 19th Airlift Wing helps build young air force in war-torn nation before his return to LRAFB.

• Rezonings upset residents – Cabot council approves one controversial change, others will take longer.

• Local voters must decide millage rate – Jacksonville will chart its own destiny on taxes for the new district.

• District prepares for parent refusal – Cabot pupils could be held back if they don’t take achievement test.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

EDITORIAL >> Millage rate is set locally

The Pulaski County School District is seeking a 5.6-mill property tax increase in September, but Jacksonville residents will not even vote on that request. Instead, voters in the newly formed Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District will keep the current 40.6 mills or decide to raise their millage possibly as soon as this fall when they will elect a new school board to replace an interim board appointed by the state.

After decades of benign neglect as a stepchild of the Pulaski County Special School District, the Jacksonville area won’t have to support schools in Little Rock and elsewhere with hard-earned tax dollars. Jacksonville is formalizing its own school district after an overwhelming endorsement last month by local voters.

Until last week, U.S. District Judge D. Price Marshall wasn’t sure if Jacksonville voters would be included in the county millage election. PCSSD attorney Allen Roberts told the judge during a hearing Thursday that the Jacksonville district is to have the same tax rate as PCSSD at the time of detachment.

Although Jacksonville is organizing its own district, it isn’t operating the schools yet. The state Board of Education formed the new district on Nov. 13 at the current PCSSD millage rate, which stays in place regardless what county voters outside the Jacksonville area decide next fall.

If Marshall wasn’t sure before the hearing about the details on who would vote on the millage increase, neither were we. There was the possibility that Jacksonville might be included in the PCSSD millage vote as long as the city wasn’t completely separated from the county district.

PCSSD Superintendent Jerry Guess will continue to supervise both districts for at least 18 more months, so the judge might have wanted Jacksonville included in the county vote, but why prolong the agony? Jacksonville and PCSSD officials didn’t think that was right, and the judge agreed. Jacksonville organizers, although reluctant to talk about a millage increase, seemed relieved that Marshall let the districts decide that issue.

He has plenty on his plate: The judge compared Jacksonville to a teenager who is still learning to drive before he becomes independent — although most residents here would think of themselves as adults who can make their own decisions.

Remember: For there to be a property-tax increase to fund new Jacksonville-area schools, the increase would have to be on the ballot for the JNPSD school elections in September or at a later date. Interim Jacksonville Superintendent Bobby Lester should ease the transition toward complete independence and help set the millage rate while he serves in his new post until next summer or so.

Although Jacksonville will almost certainly have to raise its millage for a new high school and school renovations, local voters are more likely to go along with an increase if they are convinced there would be improvements and their tax dollars would go to local schools.

Judge Marshall said he would rule soon on PCSSD’s $200 million plan to build new schools to replace Mills and Robinson high schools, to renovate those existing high schools into junior high schools and to modernize and expand Sylvan Hills High School. Sherwood is staying in PCSSD, but it, too, is making plans to leave the district.

With agreement by the Joshua Intervenors, Marshall declared PCSSD in compliance with special education requirements. He commended PCSSD and the Joshua Intervenors for working well together on the desegregation front, and PCSSD and the Jacksonville district for their cooperation in moving forward on detachment.

This court case has taken too long. More than 30 years ago, Pat Bond and others organized the first effort to leave PCSSD. More than a decade ago, then-Rep. Bond introduced a bill in the House of Representatives which allowed Jacksonville to form its own district. Several buildings in Jacksonville could easily be renovated for new district headquarters, perhaps at PCSSD’s expense and named in her honor.

TOP STORY >> Little girl tells Santa a wish for Christmas

Leader editor-in-chief

(This is a reprint of a Christmas column from 30 years ago.)

When my friend Jack Sallee was with the Jaycees in Fayetteville, they’d put an ad in the paper at Christmastime saying that for $2 you could have Santa come to your place.

There’d be a group of Santas going out every night, and Sallee was among them.

“Each Santa went to about 10 homes a night,” Sallee says. “Each Santa had a driver. Mine was named Larry Nixon. He was a big fellow, and I would tell the kids Larry was driving me around town.”

Usually nothing out of the ordinary happened. Kids got to tell Santa what they wanted for Christmas, and Santa gave them lots of candy, and everybody went to bed happy.

But then something different did happen. Sallee says, “One night we had two houses left to go. We drove around for a while, and when we found one, it was a one-room house. We went inside, and the house had a dirt floor and hardly any furnishings.”

A young girl was there with her mother. They were as poor as they could be: They had nothing — or very little.

The two Jaycees, college educated and professionals who had seen dozens of nice homes, couldn’t believe what they had walked into.

“There were two cots to sleep on and a table and a chair,” Sallee says. “The house had a potbellied stove. She had one of those small Styrofoam ice chests. So needless to say, I was taken aback because I didn’t think people still lived like that. This was inside the Fayetteville city limits.

“The girl was seven or eight years old,” Sallee continues, “and she had long hair and blue eyes. She wore a nightgown that looked like a man’s T-shirt her mother had cut off. She was flabbergasted that Santa Claus would actually visit her.”

He says, “For a Christmas tree, her mother had brought in a branch and put it on the table.”

Her mother had found her a present — a ball wrapped in tissue paper. Sallee wondered what else this poor girl would ask for.

“In the homes we had seen,” he continues, “the children would tell us what they wanted by reciting the toy sections in stores they’d been to.”

But that wasn’t what the girl wanted.

“The girl sat on my lap and looked at me seriously,” Sallee recalls. “She said, ‘Santa, the only thing I want is for Daddy to come home.’

“I looked at my driver, this big, burly guy, and he had to walk outside because tears were streaming down his face,” Sallee says.

“The mother turned her back to us, and I just turned my head away from her,” he adds.

“I was just stunned and moved and speechless. I wanted to hold the little girl and tell her everything was going to be all right, but there was nothing you could do. You felt helpless. She never asked for a toy or clothes.

“I said there are some things Santa Claus can’t do,” Sallee adds, “but Santa Claus would try. I gave her all the candy I had.

“It’s an experience you’ll never forget,” he says. “It will haunt you for the rest of your life.”

Sallee remembers that little girl around this time of the year. He wonders what happened to her father.

Maybe this Christmas he will be home, and, who knows, they’ll have a nice place to live in. You can’t lose hope.

TOP STORY >> 2014 Year in Review

Compiled by RICK KRON

Editor’s note: This is the second in a four-part series looking back at 2014. The first three articles will look at the major headlines, while the fourth will review the top ten storylines of the year.

The middle four months of the year focused on candidates lining up for the primary and general election; school testing results; shooting ranges and tornado recovery.


• Beebe calls firing range a big draw -- $3.5 million Jacksonville facility is called finest in region.

• Command changes at 189th AW – Air Guard commander Eggensberger is stepping down to make way for his vice commander Ator.

• Storm cost still rising – Twister destroyed or damaged at least 700 homes in Faulkner and White counties as charities and FEMA respond.

• Obama flies to base for storm visit – He is first president to land at LRAFB since Bill Clinton in 1998.

• Feelings hurt after base visit – Jacksonville alderman said Mayor Fletcher not being invited to presidential visit was a ‘slap in face’ to LRAFB’s hometown.

• Annex efforts facing delays – Petition’s signatures outdated and area is not contiguous.

Residents make demand on city over shooting range – Homeowners want noise to stop but may consider buyouts of several expensive houses; city engineer is optimistic solutions are possible.

Roundtop’s revival taking shape – First of two phases to restore the old gas station is underway.

• Primary voting on Tuesday – Crowded field, but many need only to win primary contest to hold office next year.

• High court stays ruling–same-sex couples could have wed in Pulaski and White counties, but Lonoke waited for an appeal.

• State label misleading, official says – Department wrong to call Badger Academy “academically distressed.”

• Chief set to run against mayor in Jacksonville – Gary Sipes says firing range too noisy, wants to limit hours.

• Staley, Lemons are winners in GOP’s primary – Lonoke County Clerk Clarke loses; assessor faces runoff.

• Bus driver glad hijacker’s plea will avoid trial – Jacksonville man who terrorized school kids negotiates a guilty plea.

• Sherwood residents shoot down firing range – Petitions protest city’s plan to put facility in neighborhood

• Principal plans improvement at high school – Jerry Bell moves from Pine Bluff school to run Jacksonville High School.

• Parents want supervision of PCSSD to end – Problems fixed, district is not in fiscal distress, families say.

• Interim chief appointed as Sipes leaves – The top cop quits police department to run for Jacksonville mayor.

• Cabot parks bid comes in at $5.3 million – City prepares for its first major project after extending sales tax.


• Sherwood range takes direct hit – Residents would rather use the $18,500 in drug money on other projects.

• Homes get top ranking in cities – Cabot is ranked sixth and Sherwood 14th for home ownership in study.

• Girl survives as tree falls on bed – Jacksonville teen a foot away from certain injury as giant old tree splits her house in half.

• District accused of disability bias – Ward student needs service dog handler, but school won’t offer one.

• Crowding problem in county jails – Lonoke County officials and others call for legislature to help with getting too many state prisoners and not enough money.

• Garbage upgrade in Ward – Plans are to automate pickup, plus sewer plans are reconsidered as the plans could double or triple bills.

• Sherwood is getting call center – Teletech, is the latest catch for the city in its quest for further economic growth.

• Dry areas may get dozens of liquor stores – More than 78,000 signatures are needed to get statewide alcohol issue on the ballot and if passed it may mean 28 new liquor stores in White and Lonoke counties.

Historic district begins to form – Organizers plan to rebuild long-gone train depot on Jacksonville’s First Street.

• County judge is hit with lawsuit – Lonoke County might have to pay millions if Doug Erwin loses case brought by developer.

Donor helps city purchase mobile shelter – Jacksonville couple buys $27,000 trailer to be used to help find homes for dogs and cats.

• Verdict pleases victim’s mother – Rene Joyce Rolff found guilty in the baseball bat beating of Cabot man; also convicted of corpse abuse and tampering.

• Money pours in for liquor sales – Effort to do away with dry laws attracting financial support from businesses, including Walmart.

• State law protection from suits – Jacksonville can’t be sued over noise as it follows laws.

• Bridge replacements will disrupt traffic – A $42 million contract is awarded to widen Jacksonville freeway overpasses.

• Water deal at LRAFB – Jacksonville and the base sign a 50-year contract allowing the city to take over maintenance and operation of the base water system.

Sherwood library vote in fall – Council places it on the general election ballot after receiving an opinion for the state attorney general.

• Cabot ready to make big splash – City breaks ground on $13.5 million aquatics and sports complex.

• Erwin, Staley thanked for tornado help – Faulkner County judge tells Lonoke County Quorum Court that rapid response from local officials made big difference in rescue efforts after April tornadoes.

• Two cities here get good ratings – Sherwood and Cabot among safest places to live according to website’s research.


• Session finds funds – Late night vote on teacher insurance and jail overcrowding seen as a temporary fix; lottery expansion on hold.

• For Sherwood, business is good – Economic developer who works in town has finger on pulse.

• Sound engineer begins study – Consult expects to have report ready in 10 days and then make suggestions.

• Homeowners in Sherwood may pay $39 extra a year for new library – Real estate taxes would rise modestly for $6 million structure if proposal passes in November.

• Work done, water starts to flow from Greers Ferry – Ward, Austin, North Pulaski, Vilonia among the first to get water from new source, while others will follow soon.

• Dry county helps place liquor effort on fall ballot – Little Rock attorney praises effort in Lonoke County to gather enough signatures to put alcohol law to a vote.

• Reserve unit is soaring to new heights – The 913th Airlift Wing adds 500 people and 10 C-130s to flightline.

• Cabot seeks inspections – Ordinance calls for visit to rental properties every two years.

• Top news, editorial prizes go to Leader – First place for reporting, in-depth series, editorial and more.

• Ward looks at sales tax – City wants one-percent levy for streets and parks department.

• A Judge chosen by state for case – Plegge will preside over lawsuit a developer filed against Lonoke County judge.

• Budget panel reviews jail costs—Sherwood working group also looks at Roundtop grant and money owed by Comcast.

• Surprising results in math test – Students in Lonoke have scores among highest in state, and all in Beebe are proficient or advanced.

• Cabot will save $15,406 on its insurance rates – By taking new offer, city saves big on its property insurance.

• Metro plan adds education, jobs to its agenda – Imagine Central Arkansas departs from past plans, which focused solely on roads and highways.

• Mayors ask better deal on jail costs – Jacksonville and Little rock unhappy with the proposed Pulaski County offer and demand a fairer interlocal agreement to house prisoners.

Williams touts sales tax break – Senator to buy clothes and supplies during holidays.

It’s back to normal at LRAFB – False alarm leads to security measures to ensure safety at base.

Preparatory program is kicking off – Ambitious plan gives scholarships to 58 PCSSD graduates.

• Sherwood backs jail plan – The city council votes to approve $133,000 for first year.


• New commander at 314th – Col. Brewer makes way for successor in ceremony on air base.

• All fifth graders at Arnold Drive score advanced – Also doing well are Dupree, Cabot and lighthouse students.

• Ward weighs sales tax, bond issue – Mayor and aldermen may ask voters to pass 2 percent rate.

• Air Force will decide future of old C-130s – Grounding of 400-plus planes feared without improvements.

• Liquor forces confident – Statewide effort to expand alcohol sales requires voters to approve constitutional amendment in November.

• Cabot, Beebe and charter middle schools do well – Jacksonville’s math scores are worst in the district, while Northwood and England also struggle.

• Freshman Academy set to open – Cabot ninth graders will start classes this year at a new $22 million campus.

• New district to get push at meeting – Organizers of effort to break from PCSSD prepare for September election.

• Whit Davis embraces Sherwood – Hardware store has groundbreaking for Brockington location.

• Ward voters to decide sales tax hike – The city council decides to ask residents to back a one-cent levy in November.

• District supporters upbeat on election – Rally raises $4,000 for Jacksonville’s school district, which has been the city’s goal since 1978.

• Col. Dryjanski happy to lead LRAFB’s 314th – Head of Airlift Wing says career started with life-changing stint at Air Force Academy.

• Lengthy Hwy. 67/167 work begins – Replacing the overpass at Redmond Road starts off widening project.

• Liquor law closer to ballot – Lonoke and White counties could go wet if voters approve measure in November.

• Cabot projects moving ahead – Major roadwork and interchange on schedule, mayor says.

• Farmers here hit by theft – Lonoke County farmers also affected by millions of dollars in commodity losses.

• Metro Trends figures show positive trend – Jacksonville rebounds since 2010, most others continue to grow.

• Campaign kickoff for ex-police chief – Jacksonville mayoral candidate Gary Sipes tells crowd of supporters, “It’s time for something different.”

• Jacksonville plans for new school board – Interim board will pave way for a future district if voters approve proposal Sept 16.

• Lonoke County QC mulls jail crowding – JPs bicker over tight budget.

TOP STORY >> Funding jails vexing issue

Leader staff writer

Jacksonville is the only holdout on a five-city agreement to help defray the cost of operating the county jail, but the mayor is optimistic that things will work out.

The court has determined the payments that each city in the county needs to pay for the county housing city prisoners, but Jacksonville is balking.

While Pulaski County and Jacksonville debate the cost of locking up prisoners, the Lonoke County Quorum Court and the jail are discussing the amount of money the jail should get for its prisoners cleaning up the highway.

Mayor Gary Fletcher has said he will budget $201,000 the quorum court has requested as the city’s portion of the jail’s $25.1 million operating budget, but not sign the five-year agreement. The city paid $195,000 this year.

“But I’m not going to sign something,” Fletcher said, “That is unfair to the city.”

However he believes he can work out an acceptable agreement with incoming County Judge Barry Hyde. “We just need to sit down and discuss it. I want this settled as much as anyone.”

The Jacksonville city council is expected to discuss the issue at their Dec. 29 meeting.

If Jacksonville doesn’t agree to sign the agreement then the Pulaski County Quorum County would charge the city a per day fee of $245 per new prisoner for the first day and $44 for each day after that. It could cost the city $500,000 in 2015.

In Pulaski County, every major city is required to pay a portion of the jails upkeep in lieu of not having to maintain its own long-term jail facility.

Last year, the county court increased the rates the city had to pay while trying to get all cities to sign on to a 10-year agreement that included a 5 percent increase immediately and 3 percent a year thereafter. But the cities pushed back and got a five-year agreement in which, after the first year, the increase will be tied to the consumer price index — not to exceed 3 percent.

Sherwood, Maumelle and North Little Rock signed onto that agreement this summer, and Little Rock agreed to terms last week.

Together, cities in the county paid $2.9 million of the nearly $25 million it took to operate the county jail facility this year. The cost for the cities is going up to $3 million under the agreement.

Sherwood approved of giving the county jail $133,409 a year when the council passed the 2015 general fund budget Monday. Sherwood Mayor Virginia Hillman Young said that figure is locked in as part of the five-year agreement with the county.

Fletcher’s main complaint is that the percentage the cities should pay should be based on population, and, with Jacksonville and Sherwood having about the same population, Fletcher said the fees should be similar. But Sherwood is paying $70,000 less.

County Judge Buddy Villines argues that the rates have never been based on population, but what cities were paying to operate their own jails in 1990.

Part of the reason the quorum court is asking for county cities to increase their share is that the county jail is losing money on the state prisoners it houses, so the cities have to subsidize that loss.

The state currently pays $28 a day for its prisoners, but the Pulaski County Quorum Court has estimated it costs closer to $50 a day. The state legislature next year will look at increasing the state payments from $28 to $35 a day, which could lessen the cities’ burden, and the five-year contract would have to be renegotiated.

Meanwhile, Lonoke County Sheriff John Staley said the Lonoke Quorum Court has agreed to pay the jail $40 a day per inmate it uses. “The money doesn’t go to the inmates, but to the jail to cover the cost of housing the inmates,” Staley said.

The Lonoke facility was housing 146 prisoners as of Tuesday afternoon.

He added that the county has used inmate labor for years to clear rights of way, pick up trash, fill potholes and the jail has never been reimbursed. “So this is a good deal for us,” he said.

Staley said inmates are not required to go out and work for the county.

“It’s volunteer, but most don’t want to sit in their cells the entire day, so they volunteer, and many have good skills that we put to use, like carpentry and concrete work.”

He added that all the work the inmates do, whether for the county or for the jail itself, is on public property.

At the rate of $40 a day, and using about four inmates a day, the jail should pick up between $40,000 and $50,000 next year.

SPORTS STORY >> JHS ladies beaten by Brookland

Leader sportswriter

The Jacksonville girls’ first game of the McDonald’s Red Devil Classic against Class 4A Brookland was close after two quarters of play, but the Lady Red Devils’ offense stifled in the second half, and the Lady Bearcats were able to pull away and win 66-48 Monday night at the Devils’ Den.

“They have a very good basketball team,” said Jacksonville coach William Rountree of Brookland. “I thought we competed well, like I thought we’ve done against every good team we’ve played. We’ve played a lot of good teams and have shown flashes of doing a lot of good things.

“We’ve got to be better longer. That’s the whole deal. We’re really young as far as experience. We’ve got one starter back. We’re trying to learn as we go. Again, we’re playing some really good teams, and they don’t give you the luxury of growing in those games.

“Everything we’re doing up until Jan. 6 is to get us ready for conference play.”

Brookland (9-2, 3-0), whose only losses this season were to Springdale Har-Ber and Greene County Tech, both of higher classifications, jumped out to an 11-2 lead to start the game.

Jacksonville (4-6) cut the Lady Bearcat lead to 11-8 with back-to-back 3-pointers by Alexis James and Taylor Toombs, but Brookland went into the second quarter with a 19-12 lead. That margin was set on a 3-pointer by Rachel Gramling with three seconds left in the quarter.

The Lady Devils cut Brookland’s lead down to three toward the end of the second quarter. With 1:27 left in the half, Toombs banked in her second three of the half, and that trimmed the Lady Bearcat lead to 32-29, but the visitors added another basket before halftime to make the score 34-29 at the break.

The third quarter was when Brookland began to separate itself on the scoreboard. Jacksonville made just one field goal in the third quarter, and that helped the Lady Bearcats push their lead to 17 by the end of the quarter.

Brookland scored the first 13 points of the third quarter, which gave it a comfortable 47-29 lead. Jacksonville’s first points of the half came on an Antrice McCoy three from the top of the key with 2:17 remaining in the period.

McCoy’s three made it a 47-32 ballgame, but the Lady Bearcats added another basket before the quarter came to a close to lead 49-32 at the start of the fourth.

Brookland only furthered its lead in the fourth. It gained a 20-point lead for the first time on a pair of free throws by Gramling with 1:47 left to play. That made the score 62-42, and the final margin was set on a putback by Brookland’s Taylor Reddick with 11 seconds left.

Jacksonville finished the game 16 of 42 from the floor for 38 percent. Brookland was 21 of 43 shooting for 49 percent. The Lady Devils outrebounded the Lady Bearcats 25-18, but the hosts had 24 turnovers for the game. Brookland had 10.

Gramling led all scorers with 23 points. Bailey Lovrien also scored in double figures for Brookland. She had 15 points. McCoy was the only Lady Red Devil to score in double figures. She had 22 points.

The Jacksonville girls ended the Red Devil Holiday Classic with a nonconference game against North Pulaski last night after deadlines. Look for details of that game in Saturday’s edition of The Leader.

SPORTS STORY >> Devils finally put away Catholic

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville Red Devils picked up their eighth win of the season on Monday, beating Catholic High 60-47 in the first day of play in the two-day McDonald’s Red Devil Classic at JHS. Jacksonville built a big early lead and an even bigger one in the third quarter, but could never put the Rockets away until the final few minutes of the game.

Jacksonville’s 13-point halftime lead grew to as much as 18 early in the third quarter, but the Rockets pulled to within 52-44 with 2:45 remaining. The visitors had two possessions to get closer after Jacksonville committed four-straight turnovers, but the Rockets couldn’t convert on the offensive end.

“We got a big lead and got lackadaisical,” said Jacksonville coach Vic Joyner. “Teams without any leaders, that’s what they do. This team doesn’t have anyone on the floor that can get people’s attention and get them to straighten up. There’s no leadership out there. There’s nobody but me out here trying to tell them what they need to be doing, and they ain’t listening.”

Catholic got out to a quick 7-4 lead on a pair of 3-pointers. Jacksonville answered with a 10-0 run, but successive Jacksonville turnovers gave Catholic an opportunity to close the opening quarter strong, and it did. The Rockets scored five-straight, including a 3-pointer by Davis Fox at the buzzer to make it 14-12.

Catholic point guard Chad Wharton got into foul trouble early in the second quarter and the Red Devils turned up the defensive pressure. The full-court man and trapping wreaked havoc on the Rockets without their floor general. Jacksonville went on a 14-2 run in the first three minutes of the second frame to take a 28-14 lead, but bogged down from there offensively.

Catholic also struggled offensively the rest of the quarter, managing just four points in the final five minutes of the half. But it was enough to pull to within 28-18 with 30 seconds remaining.

Jacksonville point guard Tyree Appleby put an end to the home team’s scoring drought with three free throws after time expired. He was fouled attempting a three at the buzzer and drained all three foul shots for a 31-18 lead at the break.

The Red Devils lead grew to 41-23 early in the third quarter with more pressure and a brief spurt of strong rebounding. LaQuawn Smith and Tedrick Wolfe got fast break dunks, and Devin Campbell slammed home an offensive rebound that came off the front of the rim.

The Rockets scored the next six points to make it 41-29 with two minutes left in the third, and got to within 43-32 on a Wharton 3-pointer with 1:25 on the clock.

Lakalon Huskey completed a 3-point play for Jacksonville before the quarter ended to put the Red Devils back up by 14.

Catholic first cut the margin to 10 on the first field goal of the fourth quarter, a 3-pointer Matthew Straessle, but Braylon James answered for Jacksonville with his own 3-pointer. Catholic got it to 11 and had two possessions to get the margin inside 10 but Campbell and Wolfe each blocked shots to save the double-digit lead until the final three minutes.

Overall, Joyner was displeased with his team’s performance, despite the victory.

“We try to press some but we’re not disciplined enough to run it,” Joyner said. “We don’t rotate right, don’t move our feet. We want to reach for everything. We didn’t rebound. We’d drive in the lane with no plan and just throw the ball up in the air. There was nothing positive to take from this game, other than the W.”

Campbell led Jacksonville in two categories, scoring 14 points and grabbing eight rebounds. James added 11 for the Red Devils (8-2) while Appleby added 10.

Duncan Diaz led Catholic with a double-double, scoring 13 points and grabbing 14 rebounds. Wharton was second in scoring with eight points, and added six assists, four rebounds and three steals.

Catholic (1-8) outrebounded Jacksonville 31-23, but shot just 31 percent from the floor. The Rockets were 11 of 41 from two-point range and 7 of 17 from outside the arc. They were just 4 of 11 from the free-throw line.

Jacksonville hit 23 of 29 foul shots and 17 of 35 from two-point range, but hit just 1 of 11 3-pointers.

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot’s big first quarter enough

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Lady Panthers pulled off another victory before the holiday break, beating defending Class 5A state champion Paragould 46-37 Friday at Panther Arena.

The Lady Panthers appeared to be on their way to a very easy night against the Lady Rams. Cabot stormed out to a 10-2 lead with four different players scoring.

Paragould finally broke the streak with a bucket by Didnie Walker, but Cabot answered with another run, this time a 12-1 run that gave the home team a22-5 lead by the end of the first quarter.

This time junior forward Anna Sullivan did most of the damage for Cabot, scoring eight of the 12 points in the run while Maddie Willhite scored the other four.

But the tide shifted dramatically in the second quarter.

The Lady Panthers, playing without two regular starters, managed just three points the entire second period.

They still played well on defense and were able to maintain a 25-16 lead at halftime. But Paragould scored the first six points of the third quarter to make it 25-22.

Danielle McWilliams broke the streak when she hit 1 of 2 free throws after being fouled driving to the basket.

Cabot then got a defensive stop and made it a six-point game on a bucket by Willhite.

Sophomore Lady Panther Josie Vanoss then sank a short jumper after a steal and assist by Sarah Davis, and Davis put Cabot back up by double digits with a pair of free throws just a few seconds later that made it 32-22.

The two teams traded buckets before Paragould scored five-straight to get back to within five points. But Cabot’s Chloe Bean made it 36-29 and Sullivan made it 38-29 after a steal by Vanoss.

Paragould would get the margin to five twice more, starting with back-to-back buckets by Bailey Bateman that made it 38-33. Bean and Leighton Taylor scored back-to-back for Cabot, but Paragould’s Braxton Barriside scored five-straight to make it 42-37 with 75 seconds remaining.

They were the last points for the Lady Rams in the game. Cabot closed the game hitting just 4 of 8 free throws in the final minute, but got several offensive rebounds after misses and Paragould got just one more shot in the game, a missed 3-point attempt by Katelyn Price.

Sullivan led Cabot, 8-1, with 15 points and seven rebounds.

Willhite, Bean and Taylor each added six points apiece for the Lady Panthers. Korie Bryant led Paragould with 14 points while Barriside added nine for the Lady Rams.

The Lady Panthers’ next game will be at 11:30 a.m. Monday in Mansfield, Texas.

They will face the Cedar Hill Longhorns, an 11-3 Class 6A school just southwest of Dallas and Southeast of Fort Worth, in the Spring Creek Barbecue Invitational.

SPORTS STORY >> NP Falcons roll Lonoke in first win

Leader sportswriter

North Pulaski jumped out to a 10-0 lead against Lonoke on Friday at the Gina Cox Center, and the visiting Falcons never looked back, winning the nonconference matchup by the final score of 68-45.

It was the first win of the season for the Falcons, who lost their first seven games of the season before Friday night’s game.

North Pulaski coach Roy Jackson was pleased with the effort his players gave Friday, and credited the win to their ability to finally bring the same level of intensity they’ve displayed in practice to the game.

“The kids played hard,” said Jackson. “The last week we’ve been out for semester exams and have finally been able to get some good practices in. We just took that same intensity to the game, and that’s what I was looking for.

“Can we take what we do in practice and execute in the game, and I think we did a good job of that. It started with our defense.”

North Pulaski’s defense forced 12 Lonoke turnovers in the first half, eight of which came in the first quarter. After trailing 10-0, the Jackrabbits (3-6, 2-3) finally got on the board with a Justin Meadows free throw with 3:18 left in the opening quarter.

Meadows also made Lonoke’s first field goal shortly after, but the Falcons (1-7) got their lead back to 10 on an and-1 by Brandon England with 1:59 remaining. Meadows added the final bucket of the quarter, though, to make the score 13-5 after one.

Lonoke was able to get into more of an offensive rhythm in the second quarter, and got within two of North Pualski’s lead with consecutive buckets by Yancy Cooney that made the score 18-16 at the midway point of the quarter.

That was as close as Lonoke would get the rest of the way, though, as the Falcons answered with a 6-1 run and led 28-21 at halftime.

The Falcons got their lead back to 10 at the six-minute mark of the third quarter on a steal and transition layup by De’Marik Brown, which made the score 35-25, and North Pulaski led by as much as 51-27.

That score was set on Brown’s third and-1 of the quarter, which came with 2:54 remaining. Lonoke, though, ended the third quarter on a 7-0 run that made the score 51-34 heading into the fourth.

North Pulaski opened the fourth quarter with a 6-0 run that pushed its lead to 23, leading 57-34. The last two points of the run came on two free throws by Breon Baker, which came as the result of a technical foul that was called on Lonoke coach Dean Campbell with 5:39 left to play.

Campbell was arguing a no-call on Lonoke’s previous possession. On that possession, Meadows was knocked to the floor while attempting a layup in transition, and no foul was called.

Lonoke’s first points of the fourth came on a free throw by Jawaun Bryant with 5:07 remaining, which made the score 57-35, but North Pulaski responded with a 9-2 run that gave the Falcons their largest lead at 66-37.

The Jackrabbits were able to avoid the mercy rule, though, and cleaned up the score as the game came to a close, with the final score being set on a steal and slam by Bryant with 11 seconds remaining.

North Pulaski finished the game 28 of 48 from the floor for 58 percent. Lonoke, conversely, made 17 of 44 shot attempts for 39 percent. The Falcons outrebounded the Rabbits 24-16, and had five fewer turnovers than Lonoke, who finished with 22.

Brown led all scorers with 20 points. Two other Falcons scored in double figures Friday. Baker had 15 points and Jalen Kelly added 13. Bryant led Lonoke with 14 points, and like NP, two other Rabbits scored in double figures. Meadows and teammate Nick Bates each had 10 points.