Saturday, November 21, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Lonoke ladies escape from Carlisle

Leader sportswriter

Tuesday night’s Lonoke County matchup between Lonoke and Carlisle was a battle from start to finish and a game of runs, but Lonoke had the final run of the night, and as a result, the Lady Jackrabbits beat Carlisle 65-55 at Bison Arena.

Carlisle (0-1) led 41-37 at the start of the fourth quarter, and later pushed its lead to 50-43. That was when Lonoke (2-0) made its comeback. The Lady Jackrabbits scored the next eight points to take a 51-50 lead with 2:20 to play.

The go-ahead bucket came on a Mickenzie Williams steal and dish up court to leading scorer Keiunna Walker, who sank a short baseline jumper to give Lonoke the one-point lead.

Lonoke’s lead grew to 58-53 on a Walker free throw with 48.4 seconds remaining. She made the first of a two-shot foul. Carlisle leading scorer Kylie Warren cut the Lonoke lead to three on the next possession after she drained a pair of free throws with 39.9 seconds left.

Warren’s free throws made it 58-55 Lonoke. The Lady Bison were forced to foul the rest of the way, and Lonoke, who struggled from the free-throw line for most of the second half, made 5 of 6 free throws in the final minute of play and Walker added the final basket of the game in the waning seconds to give the Lady Rabbits the 10-point win.

“At the end of the game we started getting a little wild with the basketball,” said Carlisle coach Jonathan Buffalo. “I think the pressure got to us and we started making some poor decisions with the ball. I can’t fault their effort, though.

“We competed this time last year and they (Lonoke) ran the clock on us. So, it doesn’t take away from what our goals are. It was a good first test – a real test in a real game. It was a game of runs. It was kind of going to be who would make the last one, and they made the last one.

“Maybe our youth showed just a little bit. We only have one senior on the team, but I’m real proud of their effort.”

Lonoke scored the first six points of the game, but Carlisle settled down and came storming back to take an 18-8 lead. Lonoke added the final four points of the opening quarter, though, to cut Carlisle’s lead down to 18-12 at the end of one.

The Lady Jackrabbits came back in the second quarter and outscored the Lady Bison 17-10 to take a one-point lead into halftime, leading 29-28. Carlisle responded after the break and outscored Lonoke 13-8 in the third quarter to lead 41-37 at the start of the fourth.

“Our press really started bothering them late,” said Lonoke coach Nathan Morris. “I wish we would’ve gotten a few more stops here and there. I’m not real happy with our defense in the half court, but we really forced them into some stuff in the fourth quarter and made the layups when it counted.”

Lonoke didn’t have its best game from the free-throw line. The Lady Rabbits made 3 of 7 shots from the stripe in the first half, and went 1 for 7 from the line in the third quarter and finished the second half 11 for 28 from the line.

“We make shots from the free-throw line and we distance that lead even more,” Morris said. “I give them (Carlisle) credit in the first half for doing what they did, but our kids showed a lot of fight to stay in that game.

“They’re exactly what I’ve told people I think they can be – just some scrappy, fighting, clawing, get after you kids that are going to be fun to watch.”

Lonoke finished the game 25 for 62 from the floor for 40 percent. Carlisle was also 40 percent from the floor on 19 of 47 shooting. Carlisle made 2 of 10 3-point attempts, while Lonoke made 1 of 13 shots from beyond the arc.

From the free-throw line, the Lady Rabbits made 14 of 35 attempts for 40 percent. The Lady Bison made 15 of 27 free throws for 56 percent. Both teams had 31 rebounds, but Lonoke won the turnover battle, 22-30.

Walker led all scorers with 35 points. She also had five rebounds and five steals. Jarrelyn McCall was the only other Lady Rabbit to score in double figures. She had 14 points and added three rebounds and three steals.

Warren led Carlisle with 29 points and 11 rebounds. She also had five assists, four steals and three blocks. Nikita Harper added eight points for the Lady Bison.

Friday, November 20, 2015

SPORTS STROY >> Cabot falls off in fourth to Conway

Leader sports editor

Cabot and Conway went toe-to-toe for three quarters, but the fourth belonged to the Lady Wampus Cats. The Cabot girls’ basketball team didn’t make a shot from the floor for more than six minutes in the fourth quarter as Conway went on to a 57-48 victory in the semifinals of the Heavenly Hoops Classic at Mount St. Mary Academy in Little Rock.

Cabot led by five at halftime and scored first in the third quarter, but foul trouble began to play a role in the game, in more ways than one.

Cabot center Chloe Bean picked up her fourth foul just three minutes into the second half, and the Lady Panthers made just 3 of 11 free-throw attempts in the final two quarters after hitting 8 of 10 in the first half.

“We have to work on that because it hasn’t been very good in either game so far,” said Cabot coach Carla Crowder, about her team’s shooting from the free-throw line. “Our defense also could’ve been better as far as execution. But we played hard. So that was good. We’ll get better if we keep playing hard.”

The first three quarters consisted of the two teams trading small runs. Conway jumped out to a 5-1 lead, forcing a Cabot timeout with 5:33 on the clock. Cabot’s first lead came at the four-minute mark when an Anna Sullivan putback made it 6-5. Cabot stretched that lead to 13-9, but a 3-pointer by Alexis Tolefree with 40 seconds left in the first quarter gave Conway a 14-13 lead going into the second period.

Cabot still trailed 18-17 when it scored six points in less than 35 seconds. It started with a pair of free throws by Madi Nichols, followed by back-to-back steals and layups by Rachel Allgood and Leighton Taylor. That gave Cabot a 23-18 lead and forced a Conway timeout with 4:47 left in the first half.

Another Allgood steal right out of the break led to a layup by Bean and a seven-point Cabot lead. The Lady Panthers went into halftime up 29-24. CoCo Calhoon scored just 30 seconds into the third quarter to make it 31-14, but Conway responded with a 10-3 run, started by another 3-pointer by Tolefree. The 5-10 shooting guard made just one of nine attempts from outside of the arc in the first half, but was hot in the second, hitting four of six.

Conway junior Savannah Lowe scored four-straight points to tie the game at 34-34 with 2:28 left in the third, but the Lady Panthers got the last four points of the quarter to take an advantage into the final frame.

That’s when the rim became unkind to Cabot. Tolefree hit her fourth 3-pointer of the game with 6:50 left to give Conway the lead for good at 39-38. After a Cabot turnover, Tolefree hit her fifth and final 3-pointer from about 25 feet out to put her team up by four with 6:39 remaining.

Conway capped the 10-0 run with two free throws by senior Haley Estes that forced another Cabot timeout with 5:18 left to play.

Shortly thereafter, Calhoon picked up her fifth foul and became the second Lady Panther starter to foul out of the game.

Sullivan led Cabot with 11 points while Calhoon added 10. Allgood scored nine points and had five steals and five assists.

Tolefree led all scorers with 20. Estes scored 13. Banks had 12 points and nine rebounds while Lowe scored 10 for the Lady Wampus Cats.

Conway hit 17 of 22 free throws, including 13 of 17 in the fourth quarter. Conway went 8 of 22 from 3-point range while Cabot was just 3 of 15. Cabot outrebounded Conway 25-19 and neither team took good care of the ball. Cabot finished with 19 turnovers while forcing 25 by Conway.

The Lady Panthers will play Star City in the third-place game at 1 p.m. Saturday. Conway will face North Little Rock in the championship game at 2:30 p.m.

SPORTS STORY >> Ex-Devil rising up at U of A

Special to The Leader

FAYETTEVILLE – Nobody on the Arkansas Razorbacks’ defense plays any bigger than its littlest man.

At 6-0, 175, and that’s about 20 pounds up from him first walking on out of Jacksonville, third-year sophomore nickel back Kevin Richardson not only is Arkansas’ littlest defensive man but was the only defensive man that Arkansas coach Bret Bielema cited two weeks ago when Arkansas outlasted Ole Miss, 53-52, in overtime at Oxford, Miss.

Bielema cited Richardson, a game-leading 10 tackles, both as Arkansas’ Defensive MVP and Special Teams MVP for that epic in Oxford.

“Kevin Richardson is a kid that has been unbelievable since coming here as a walk-on,” Bielema said the Monday after Oxford. “He has earned himself into a starting role (and a scholarship awarded last August) and is one of our steadiest performers and one of our best disciplined athletes on the team as far as film study. What you see in practice is what you get. He had six tackles on special teams, five of which were inside the 20-yard line.”

Richardson played a lot against Spread formation Ole Miss. He wasn’t used as much, with nickel often subbed for a strongside linebacker, in last Saturday’s 31-14 victory over power offense LSU in Baton Rouge, La.

Still, he caught his coaches’ attention.

“He made a play the other night where he was on the opposite flat,” defensive backfield coach Clay Jennings said after Wednesday’s practice. “He went from the boundary hook and he made a play in the strong flat. What Kevin brings is energy. Fanatical energy.”

Energy the Razorbacks, 6-4, 4-2, will need hosting the Mississippi State Bulldogs, 7-3, 3-3, in Saturday’s 6 p.m. ESPN televised SEC West game at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

Richardson will get his nickel’s worth against the Spread formation that Bulldogs coach Dan Mullen employs, operated by powerful (6-2, 230) Preseason All-SEC run-pass quarterback Dak Prescott.

Prescott is such a dual presence it takes two scout-team quarterbacks impersonating him, Richardson said.

“We have put Austin Cantrell (a 6-4, 250 redshirting freshman tight end) at quarterback to try to play the role of Prescott when he does run the ball,” Richardson said. “And then we have Ricky Town (the redshirting freshman quarterback transferred from the University of Southern California) back there throwing the ball like Prescott when they throw the ball.”

Arkansas has been hurt by dual threat run-pass quarterback threats this season, but on the run in the 24-20 SEC victory at Tennessee, contained big powerful Tennessee quarterback Joshua Dobbs to 16 yards on seven carries.

“We have to attack him because he is bigger than the Tennessee quarterback and he’s better,” Arkansas junior defensive end Deatrich Wise said. “We have to affect him running and throwing for us to have a good day.”

Bielema says Prescott’s sheer power on the run sets him apart as does his vastly-improved passing.

“He can throw throw the football very effectively and I don’t know if I would have said that as much last year,” Bielema said. “He is throwing the ball for unprecedented yardage and the ability he has to run the football is very, very good. It is a very thing to defense.”

Alabama, which has stopped everybody it has played except Ole Miss, and even then the Tide more stopped itself committing five turnovers, did sack Prescott nine times, bludgeoning the Bulldogs 31-6 last Saturday.

Expect a competitor like Prescott to shake that off, the Hogs say, though Wise notes nobody in mind or body likely completely flushes a memory like that within a week.

“I know it’s in the back of his mind and I know it’s in the back of his O-linemen’s mind,” Wise said. “So if we can go have our way with their O-line good things will happen.”

Certainly Wise, Bielema’s Defensive MVP post LSU, made good things happen for Arkansas in Baton Rouge. Of his six tackles against LSU, Wise recorded 2.5 sacks of quarterback Brandon Harris, officially hurried him into one incompletion and broke up two other passes.

Officially, Arkansas third-year sophomore defensive end Tevin Beanum of Forrest City had no stats against LSU, yet significantly impacted the game, Arkansas defensive coordinator Robb Smith said.

“He was disruptive,” Smith said. “I don’t know whether he got credited with it or not, but he certainly got his hands on a football that ended up bouncing around a few times. Tevin’s becoming a very disruptive guy for us.”

SPORTS STORY >> Rebels roll through Panthers

Leader sports editor

An illegal procedure penalty against Cabot before the first snap of the game was an early sign of things to come. Mistakes in every facet of the game played a big role, and Fort Smith Southside’s defensive line played one as well as the Rebels whipped the Panthers 35-25 Friday in the quarterfinals of the Class 7A playoffs at Panther Stadium.

Cabot’s base Dead-T offense accomplished very little against a large and fast Rebel defensive front. There were high snaps, failed fake punts, dropped snaps, fumbles, interceptions, missed kicks, flubbed punts and just about anything else a team can do wrong, and it resulted in the season-ending loss.

“We jumped off sides, missed holes, missed blocks,” said Cabot coach Mike Malham. “Give them credit, though. They played hard. They played good, but we made so many mistakes offensively it made it a lot easier for them.

“Defensively we didn’t play bad. We gave them a short field with bad snaps and procedure penalties and muffing that punt. I don’t know. I don’t know.”

The game was still scoreless with less than five minutes left in the first half, but Southside changed that when it took possession at the Cabot 38 thanks to a dropped snap on a fake punt attempt. Southside converted third and 4 with an 11-yard run by tailback Parker Dixon.

The Rebels had first and goal at the 10 but lost 5 yards on the next play. Quarterback Cooper Johnson then rolled right and threw back left to a wide-open Dixon for a 15-yard scoring strike with 4:45 left in the half.

Cabot went three and out on its next possession before a high punt snap resulted in Southside taking over again inside the Cabot 40.

Panther defensive end Bryce Crockom sacked Johnson to set up third and 11, but he found receiver Evan Simpson with a 25-yard touchdown pass on the next play to give the Rebels a 14-0 lead with 47 seconds left in the half. But it didn’t go into halftime that way.

Cabot’s Dylan Smith returned the kickoff 30 yards to the Southside 40. A 24-yard pass from Jarrod Barnes to Austin Nguyen was sandwiched between two 8-yard Barnes’ runs for a Cabot touchdown with 20 seconds remaining, but a high snap on the extra point left it 14-6 at the break.

Southside got it to start the second half, and Cabot got a much-needed defensive stop. Back-to-back sacks by Dayonte Roberts and Crockom left Southside with fourth down and 24 yards to go on its own 42. But Holdyn Barnes failed to secure the punt reception and the Rebels recovered at the Panther 21. Four plays later, Johnson kept for a 5-yard touchdown to make the score 21-6 with 5:21 left in the third quarter.

Cabot answered with the help of a pass interference penalty on Southside on third and 10. Three plays later, a 36-yard touchdown pass from Jarrod Barnes to Holdyn Barnes on fourth and 19 made it 21-12.

Rebel coaches argued that Holdyn Barnes was down at the 3, but the score stood after some discussion. Trailing by nine, Cabot went for two and failed to convert with 2:54 left in the third quarter.

Cabot again won first and second down, but gave up a 60-yard touchdown pass to Simpson on third and 9. The extra point made it 28-12 with 1:58 remaining in the third.

Cabot ran 10 plays and gained two first downs on its next possession, but netted only 4 yards on the drive. Barnes had two runs for -8 yards and failed to snap the ball in time to set up third and 18. A reverse to Flores on fourth down was sniffed out by Southside and lost another 10 yards.

The Rebels started on their own 39 after a Cabot punt, and got 38 of it on the second play, a run up the middle by Dixon. He also got the last play of the drive, a 2-yard run that made it 35-12 with 7:06 left in the game.

Cabot lost the ensuing kickoff out of bounds on its own 2-yard line, and Barnes was intercepted three plays later by linebacker Si Kilinc at the Rebel 39.

Cabot’s defense held and Cabot took over on its own 18 with 3:10 to play. Jarrod Barnes was dropped for a 13-yard loss on first down, but found Holdyn Barnes for a 33-yard pass play. After an 11-yard run by John Weins and another pass interference penalty on Southside, Barnes kept for 13 yards to the Rebel 23. Weins then took a counter handoff 20 yards before fumbling into the end zone, where Nguyen covered it for the score with 1:20 remaining.

The extra point was good, and Easton Seidl covered the onside kick for the Panthers. Three runs by Jarrod Barnes went for 35 yards and another score, but the two-point conversion failed with 28 seconds remaining. Southside covered the onside kick to seal the win.

“We’ll go back and watch film, and we’ll probably say, ‘what are we doing’,” Malham said. “We didn’t look like we knew what we were doing. They did their job and we didn’t do ours. We got out butts beat is what it amounts to.”

Cabot (10-1) finished with 255 yards of offense, and almost half of it on the last two drives of the game. Southside (8-4) had 346 total yards.

Holdyn Barnes led Cabot offensively with two receptions for 69 yards and a touchdown. Jarrod Barnes led Cabot in rushing with 18 carries for 61 yards and two scores.

Johnson, who rushed for 425 yards in the last two games combined, was held to 38 yards on 20 carries by the Cabot defense. He completed 10 of 15 pass attempts for 154 yards and three touchdowns. Simpson caught five passes for 113 yards and two scores. Dixon carried 15 times for 95 yards and one rushing touchdown, and caught four passes for 44 yards and another touchdown.

TOP STORY >> Women charged with prostitution

Leader staff writer

Four women were arrested between Nov. 9 and 18 in Jacksonville for prostitution, while another woman was cited in the undercover sting for allegedly running an escort service out of her home.

Charged with a misdemeanor count each of prostitution are Kayla Edmond, 23, of Hot Springs; Lois Chavez, 25, of Vilonia; Krystal Gilbert, 31, of Lonoke; and Tonya Ballou, 38, of Furlow.

The fifth woman — Jessica Peters, 37, of 404 Brewer St. — was not charged with prostitution, but was cited for operating a business without a license, as were Chavez, Gilbert and Ballou.

Edmond wasn’t cited for that, but was charged with a misdemeanor count of obstructing governmental operations after giving police a false name, according the police report.

She had a felony warrant from Montgomery County and had been arrested for prostitution in Little Rock in 2011, it states.

According to a news release, all of the women advertised on a website called, and the four charged with prostitution arranged meetings with undercover officers at the Super 8 Hotel, 1850 John Harden Drive, and Econo Lodge, 1800 John Harden Drive.

TOP STORY >> Thanksgiving meals slated

Mount Pisgah Baptist Church in Jacksonville will hold a free Thanksgiving dinner from noon until 4 p.m. Thursday. The event is open to everyone and will be held in the church’s new Curtis A. Green Community Life Center at 1026 Ray Road.

The menu includes turkey, dressing, gravy, chicken, collard greens, candied yams, corn, sweet potato pies, pecan pies, peach cobbler and assorted cakes.

Virginia Cox, who is organizing the dinner, said, “God willing, there will be many more good things that we can do together to make an impact on the people of our Jacksonville community. We want to celebrate the season by sharing with neighbors (and) enjoy this fellowship and friendship. Please feel free to join us for this special event. Let us come together and celebrate this day in the true spirit of Thanksgiving.”

Mount Pisgah Baptist Church was founded in 1875.

Beebe First United Methodist Church will hold a free Thanksgiving dinner from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. Thursday.

To attend, call the church office at 501-882-6427 or Bill Palmisano at 501-882-9565. Reservations are not necessary though.

Take-out orders and delivery service in Beebe will be available.

Transportation can be arranged, if needed, in the Beebe area.

The church is at 302 N. Main St.

TOP STORY >> Jacksonville must trim budget

Leader staff writer

“It’s tight,” is how Jacksonville Mayor Gary Fletcher described the preliminary draft of the city’s 2016 budget.

Without raises or purchasing any new police vehicles, the $20 million general fund’s expenditures are still about $200,000 above projected revenues, he said.

“We’ve got some more trimming to do,” the mayor continued, adding that he also wants to find a way to buy police vehicles and give raises. He told the council to look at ways to increase revenues.

“We’ve not increased our privilege tax since 1974, our building and electrical permits since 1993 and our plumbing permits since 1991. We could double our fees and still be below Sherwood’s charges,” Fletcher said.

The good news is that most departments seem to be coming in under budget for 2015 and that may give the city about $100,000 in unused funds to roll over into the new year.

The budget has been fairly flat the last three years. General fund revenues for 2016 are expected to be $20.3 million. For this year, the budget was $20.5 million. The 2014 budget was $20.1 million.

The police and fire departments will use up more than half of the expected revenues. The police department has a preliminary budget of $7.2 million, and the fire department is at $4.6 million.

The mayor told the council lower numbers from the 2010 census are still hurting the city. He said the city loses about $750,000 a year because of the lower population count.

In other city council business: n The council debated condemning two properties because of their unsafe conditions. Aldermen ended up condemning one, 412 Braden St.

The owner of the other property at 1511 Nina St., state Rep. Donnie Copeland (R-Little Rock), spoke to the council about plans for the deteriorating quad-plex. Copeland has filed for state Sen. Jane English’s (R-North Little Rock) seat.

He said he bought the property in 2014 as an investment and plans to put about $100,000 into it to make it what he called “first-class.” He asked the council for time to start the work. The council told him to report back in 60 days and show progress and a timeline for completing the project.

 Aldermen agreed to spend $354,194 with Hydro Inc. for repairs and renovations to Splash Zone. Kevin House, the parks and recreation director, said the work would be completed by April and the center would open on time in May.

 Aldermen voted unanimously to place liens totaling more than $25,000 on 37 properties for work the city had to do on the properties, such as grass mowing. The amounts, which range from $338 to $1,454, will be added to the owners’ next year’s property tax bills.

 Fire Chief Alan Laughy, in his monthly report, said his department responded to 310 rescue calls, 31 service calls, 19 false alarms, 15 fire calls and eight hazardous condition calls in October. The department also had 348 ambulance runs during the month.

Estimated fire loss for October was $24,500, while fire savings, based on response time and efforts of the department, was $462,000

 According to the monthly animal shelter report, the shelter took in 61 dogs and 44 cats, adopted out 36 dogs and 56 cats, returned 27 dogs and four cats to their owners and euthanized two dogs and three cats in October.

Four bite cases were reported during the month: three animal-to-human and one animal-to-animal. A registered pit bull bit a family friend on the arm. The bite was considered to be severe by officials, the permit to have the dog was revoked, and the pit bull was euthanized. In the next incident, a young girl was bit by the family’s Chihuahua mix and the dog was quarantined for 10 days.

A woman was also bit while feeding her two dogs by one of them, a shepherd mix, and the dog was quarantined for 10 days. In the animal-to-animal attack, a woman was walking her dog when an English bulldog came out of a yard and bit the other dog.

 In his monthly report, Police Chief Kenny Boyd said his code enforcement officers had 137 assigned calls and made 453 self-initiated calls during October. Forty warnings were issued, 67 signs were removed, 13 rentals were inspected, 27 properties were mowed and 15 grass letters were mailed.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Falcons fend off Wolves

Special to The Leader

The North Pulaski Falcons won their basketball season opener 62-60 Friday over the visiting Jacksonville Lighthouse Wolves. The Wolves (3-2) led by six points early in the game. North Pulaski (1-0) fought back to tie the game by the end of the first quarter, and it remained close the rest of the way.

“It’s always good to get the first one,” said North Pulaski coach Roy Jackson. “I’ve got a real inexperienced team. I’m real proud of them. They hung in there. Lighthouse is a good team. Me and coach (Rodney) Gilmore put a game plan together. I’ve got to give credit to him for working the kids with the defense and everything, for putting the kids in situations in practice. It’s a good win for us.”

“The guys were so amped up,” Lighthouse coach Kelvin Parker said. “We missed a lot of shots that they usually hit, and missed a lot of layups. I think we played a lot better the last three games. Even the first game we lost, we played better. We still were in the game and had a chance to win.”

Lighthouse scored first on a layup by Jordan McNair. James Robinson tied the game with a two, but Zack Bobo hit a 3-pointer and Chris Mims two free throws to give the Wolves a 7-2 lead.

Christian White responded with a 2-point basket for the Falcons, but Cameron Shaffer gave Lighthouse a10-4 advantage with an old-fashioned 3-point play.

Brandon Shirnes scored for North Pulaski, but Shaffer got the six-point lead back for the Wolves with a baseline drive for a layup.

The Falcons scored six points to tie with a dunk , another two by White and a layup following a Lighthouse turnover by Sean Moragne. Each team scored six more points in the quarter to end the period tied at 18.

The Wolves won the second quarter, barely outscoring North Pulaski 14-13 to take a 32-31 lead at the half. Mims had six in the quarter for Lighthouse, and White had five for the Falcons.

White and Waltez Ware each had six points in the third for North Pulaski as the Falcons scored 17 points to 13 for the Wolves to take a 48-45 lead. Shirnes had a tip-in, White another dunk, and Justin Glasco a layup in traffic for the Falcons.

Daeshawn Dixon hit a 3-point basket for Lighthouse to tie the game at 50-50, but the Falcons scored six unanswered for a 56-50 advantage.

The Wolves answered with five straight. Free throws came into play as the Falcons hit 3 of 6, and Lighthouse 1 of 2 in the next stretch to give North Pulaski the lead, 59-56, with 1:30 remaining in the game. Mims made a layup for Lighthouse and was fouled, but could not convert the additional free throw to tie.

Trailing by one at 59-58, the Wolves fouled Leon Brooks with 17 seconds on the clock. Brooks sank both of the double-bonus free throws to give the Falcons a 61-58 lead.

Shaffer scored under the basket for Lighthouse to cut the advantage to one, and the Wolves immediately fouled Robinson, who made 1 of 2 free throws to set the final score at 62-60. A steal by Brooks sealed the game.

White led North Pulaski in scoring with 21 points, Braxton McKinney had eight points and Glasco, Robinson and Ware all had seven points each.

Shaffer had 21 for the Wolves, followed by Mims with 17 points and McNair with 11.

SPORTS STORY >> Panther girls surge past Belles in third

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Lady Panthers opened their basketball season by beating tournament host Mount St. Mary 59-31 Monday in the Heavenly Hoops Classic. The Lady Panthers broke open a competitive game in the first half and turned it into a mercy-rule blowout midway through the fourth quarter.

Cabot turned the pressure up in the second half and forced the tempo. That created a lot of steals, but also a lot of fouls. The Lady Belles made only three shots from the floor the entire second half, but shot 21 free throws thanks to 16 Cabot fouls.

Cabot also went to the line several times and neither team shot free throws very well.

Mount St. Mary made 15 of 29 attempts for the game, but just 9 of 21 in the second half.

Cabot made just 11 of 24 in the game and was 4 of 10 in the second half.

The Lady Panthers did start hitting from outside in the final two quarters after missing all their attempts in the first half.

Cabot led 12-8 at the end of the first quarter and 26-15 at halftime. That changed when the Belles couldn’t handle Cabot’s zone press in the third quarter. The Lady Panthers outscored MSM 22-10 in the third period to take a 48-25 lead into the final frame.

Maddie Nichols and Holly Allen each hit three pointers that sparked Cabot’s fourth-quarter run that invoked the sportsmanship rule.

Cabot senior CoCo Calhoon was steady in her three quarters of play. She finished with a game-high 12 points before sitting the final period.

Senior Leighton Taylor finished with 11 points while junior Haley Sobczak scored nine.

Cabot will face Conway at 7 p.m. tonight in the semifinal round of the tournament. The Lady Wampus Cats annihilated Forrest City 66-17 in the opening game on Monday.

In the bottom half of the bracket, North Little Rock beat eStem Charter. The Charging Lady Wildcats will face Star City today. Star City beat Chapel in first-round action.

SPORTS STORY >> Rebels running hard into Cabot

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Panthers will attempt to take their first step back to War Memorial Stadium on Friday when they host Fort Smith Southside in the second round of the Class 7A playoffs.

The Panthers (10-0) earned a first-round bye, and will host the Rebels after they beat Catholic 38-35 last Friday in Fort Smith.

Southside (7-4) doesn’t have the stellar record that Cabot does, but has played a much tougher schedule. It’s a fact not lost on Panther coach Mike Malham.

“They’re not going to be in awe of us after the schedule they’ve played,” said Malham. “The four games they’ve lost have been to four of the best programs in the entire state.”

Southside, the four seed from the 7A-West, lost 38-31 in week two to Greenwood and opened conference play with back-to-back road losses at Bentonville and Fayetteville.

After beating Rogers and Rogers Heritage, the Rebels suffered their worst loss of the season, 38-0, at home to 7A-West champion Springdale Har-Ber. Since then, they have beaten Springdale 24-7, Fort Smith Northside 22-15 and last week’s playoff game against Catholic.

The Panthers ended the regular season with four starters sidelined with injuries. All of them, including three defensive starters, will be back in action this week.

Senior Lino Garcia and sophomore Dayonte Roberts return on the defensive line. Senior Luke Ferguson is back after missing three games on the offensive line. Junior linebacker Cody Nabors also returns after missing almost the entire season since suffering a broken collarbone in the first game of the season.

“We’re healthy,” Malham said. “I can’t think of anyone we don’t have back, so we have to get ready to play. They’ve played as good as there is in the state, so we’re going to have to play. It’s a tough second-round game.”

Southside has piled up the yardage in the last few games, mostly on the ground. The Rebels go mostly out of the spread, but have run a few power formations in recent games.

Quarterback Cooper Johnson has rushed for more than 200 yards per game the last two games. The Rebels had 520 total yards against Catholic, and 412 of that came on the ground.

“That quarterback is a good runner,” Malham said. “They’re big up front and they spread you out. They run most of the time, but those receivers are out there so you have to cover them. They’ve put up a lot of points in the last three games. It’s going to be a challenge.”

While some coaches don’t like a week off, Malham says the extra week to get rested and healthy is worth the risk of getting rusty.

“Does it help or hurt, we’ll find out Friday night,” Malham said. “I don’t think you can get that stale missing one week when you’ve been playing for 10. It gave us a chance to get rested up with some of these kids who’ve been banged up.”

The Panthers have piled up some big numbers this season as well. Four players have more than 500 yards rushing.

Junior quarterback Jarrod Barnes has carried 93 times for 1,010 yards.

Junior fullback Alex Roberts could break the 1,000-yard barrier this week, and almost certainly will if the Panthers again next week. He has 841 on the season.

Junior halfback Austin Morse has carried for 511 yards and sophomore halfback Adam Flores has rushed for 505 yards.

Senior Kolton Eads has carried for 401 yards despite also playing full time on defense.

SPORTS STORY >> Jacksonville wins opener against WM

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville basketball team opened its season with a 67-61 win over West Memphis on Friday. The inexperienced Red Devils are still a work in progress, according to head coach Vic Joyner, but played as well as can be expected on Friday.

“A win is a win,” Joyner said. “It’s all on the job training right now. Everything right now is about getting ready for conference. Win, lose or draw, I don’t care. It’s all about conference. We aren’t ready to compete for a championship in this league right now, so we’re using this part of the season to try and get where we need to be to do that.”

The two teams stayed neck-and-neck through three quarters. The Red Devils led 31-30 at halftime, and the score was tied 43-43 at the end of the third period, but guard play made the difference in the fourth quarter.

Junior Tyree Appleby scored half of his team-high 20 points in the final frame, including hitting 4 of 4 free-throw attempts. Senior LaQuawn Smith scored nine of his 13 total points in the fourth quarter as well. Junior DeJuan Ridgeway also scored 13 points, including six in the third period when the Red Devils managed just 12 total.

“Guard play was stellar,” Joyner said. “We know we’re going to have to depend on the guards because we’re so small and inexperienced on the inside. The size is one thing, but we only have one player who really knows how to play the position. Big Mo (senior Maurice Lambert) played well. But we have people that just don’t know the position. We’re losing leverage, little things that it’s going to take a while before we can do it at game speed. If you wait for the post man to post up before you start playing post defense, you’re already halfway beat. We just have to learn those things and it’s going to take time.”

Lambert finished with eight points and Chris Williams contributed five to account for all but two of Jacksonville’s points in the paint. Antoine Davis and Harderrious Martin each hit a 3-pointer apiece to round out the Red Devils’ scoring.

West Memphis dropped to 0-2 after losing 56-46 last Tuesday at Little Rock Hall. The Blue Devils were led by guard Gary Ward’s game-high 21 points. Tevin Musley added 11 for West Memphis.

Jacksonville played at home against Hot Springs after Leader deadlines, and will play Forrest City at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the Searcy Bank Classic at Searcy High School. The Jacksonville boys will play the tournament host at 4:30 Saturday.

The Lady Devils (2-3) lost on Friday. They play in the Bank Classic at 4:30 p.m. Thursday against Blytheville. They will play Batesville at 4:30 p.m. Friday and Searcy at 6 p.m. Saturday.

EDITORIAL >> Arkansas says no to refugees

Gov. Hutchinson’s announcement Monday that Syrian refugees are not welcome here came as no surprise after Friday’s terrorist attacks in Paris and the disclosure that at least one of the attackers sneaked in from Syria with a wave of refugees fleeing the Assad regime.

We have not welcomed refugees here since the Vietnamese boat people arrived here in the 1970s. Arkansans have been weary of refugees since the Cubans rioted at Fort Chafee in Fort Smith in 1980. They turned into law-abiding, hard-working citizens and were accepted partly out of guilt that we abandoned them to communists, who still rule Vietnam and Cuba.

Western Europe may not close its borders completely, but it will slow the movement of people, while several eastern European countries, just like Arkansas and more than 20 other states, are now keeping out all immigrants.

More than a million refugees have migrated to Europe this year alone, mostly from the Middle East. Terrorists who sneak into Europe represent less than one hundredth of a percent from among genuine refugees escaping Arab tyranny. That’s a tiny fraction, but enough to jeopardize the chances of millions of law-abiding Muslims from making it to freedom.

European governments are overwhelmed trying to keep up with terror cells inside their borders and in neighboring countries, whose porous borders make it easy for terrorists to move across continents.

Terrorists have been all over the map this year in France, starting in January with the Charlie Hebdo massacre when a dozen people were killed and an attack on the kosher supermarket, where four died.

Three U.S. servicemen were praised for their heroism when they jumped a knife-wielding maniac on a train in France in August, preventing a massacre. Other plots have been interrupted, but sadly not all.

Next year’s presidential race is shaping into a contest over who will be toughest on Arab extremists. So far, Donald Trump has been the loudest, and he’s been doing a victory lap ever since the weekend attacks in Paris, which French President Francoise Hollande said had been “planned in Syria, organized in Belgium, perpetrated on our soil with French complicity.”

In the U.S, the presidential candidates who oppose immigration now stand a better chance of winning, particularly Donald Trump, whose campaign has surged thanks to anti-immigrant sentiment.

Trump’s campaign took off months ago thanks to his anti-immigration rhetoric, and now about half of Republican voters say they prefer Trump over other GOP candidates. Unless next year’s primaries slow his march toward the Republican nomination, Trump could be the main beneficiary of Friday’s massacre unless the candidates now trailing him come up with realistic proposals on how to fight the war on terror. Few Republicans, and none of the Democratic candidates, want to send U.S. troops into Syria.

Our Arab allies are doing nothing as ISIS expands in Syria and Iraq. Right-wing politicians in Europe could win national elections, especially in France, where anti-Muslim sentiment is strongest. Politicians will wage war on the refugees and and promise to destroy the terrorists with Kalishnikov rifles and suicide belts who are indistinguishable from the mostly young refugees streaming into Europe.

Politicians are desperate to prevent the next wave of attacks. President Obama is getting his share of criticism for not hitting ISIS stronger. But until the Arab nations stand up to terror, international summits will not stop the barbarians. They will lose, but words alone will not defeat them.

TOP STORY >> Tax would support bus service

Leader senior staff writer

Jacksonville and Sherwood residents could get their first taste of local bus service, as well as increased commuter express bus service to Little Rock in the morning and back at the end of the work day if Rock Region Metro gets the one-quarter percent sales tax increase it seeks.

That’s according Jarod Varner, executive director of the bus service, formerly known as Central Arkansas Transit Authority.


It won’t be easy, however. First, a super majority of the Pulaski County Quorum Court—at least 10 justices—must approve an ordinance to put the increase on the March 1 primary election, then a majority of those voting need to pass the increase.

Nine quorum court members voted last week to put the issue to a vote Nov. 24, but some do not seem committed to voting to put the increase on the ballot.

Aaron Robinson, the Jacksonville area JP, voted against it.

The most recent countywide attempt to raise taxes—in this case to build new jail beds—failed substantially in 2007.

Jacksonville-area residents will vote on a millage increase at a special election in February and may not be in the mood to raise sales tax to bring bus service.

The study that led to the current plan and need for more revenue was kicked off in July 2014.


“Sherwood and Jacksonville will have their first ever local shuttle service, from point A to point B with the city, not just express service to and from Little Rock.

Both the buses and the routes will be smaller and more nimble,” Varner said.

“We’ll work with the cities to determine what the route would look like. It would run on a schedule, but be flexible, with the ability to stop at homes of those with disabilities.

Not only would it be easier for residents to get around Jacksonville and Sherwood, but the shuttles would also meet up with the express buses for transfers to or from Little Rock.

Right now, there are two morning bus trips from Little Rock to Jacksonville and Sherwood and back, and three at the end of the workday.

Varner said he’d like the express buses running until 8 or 9 p.m., because fewer people work an 8-5 shift.


“This is an unacceptable level of service,” Varner said.

Jacksonville Mayor Gary Fletcher said he hadn’t been briefed on the proposed changes, but that Jacksonville would like to have more service.

“In McAlmont, we want to offer a flex zone,” Varner said, with even smaller vehicles to pick people up at homes and take them elsewhere in their neighborhood. It would also connect them with a mini-hub on McCain Boulevard, where riders could transfer to a bus into Little Rock.

If the increase passes, Rock Region Metro revenues will increase about $18.2 million a year. Currently it gets about $12.5 million a year from the county, Little Rock, North Little Rock, Maumelle, Sherwood and Jacksonville combined, plus about $5 million to $6 million a year from the federal government towards operations and capital improvements, including buying new buses.


“Lack of transportation is the big reason people are moved out of their homes and into nursing homes,” he said. “We are working with AARP.

Referring the to state Highway Department’s controversial 30-Crossing plan to rebuild the I-30 bridge over the Arkansas River and expand it to 10 lanes, Varner said there’s little in the plan to accommodate mass transit, like buses or “bus light rail.”

He said it was possible for dedicated bus or HOV lanes on hardened shoulders to help mass transit.

Varner said Rock Region Metro currently operates about 60 buses on 26 fixed routes and would like to add about 5 routes—a couple of east-west routes in North Little Rock so people don’t have to come to the Little Rock Transit Center and then back to North Little Rock to move from one side of town to the other.

Another possibility would be an express route from West Little Rock to downtown Little Rock.

If they get the additional revenues, ridership is projected to increase 30 percent to 40 percent, with about 12 to 18 additional buses.


All buses now boast Wi-Fi and several newer buses run on compressed natural gas, a less expensive and more efficient fuel.

Varner said Rock Region Metro is also talking with Little Rock Air Force Base to determine how to better serve airmen.

“We are seeing major demographic changes,” and trying to respond to them, Varner said. “The baby boomers, as they age, it’s critical they have transportation when they have to give up the keys.

“They still need to get to the doctor’s office, the grocery store and pharmacy, to visit friends or get to the library or theater.”

TOP STORY >> Director agrees to repay $21,000

Leader staff writer

Beebe Parks and Recreation Director Lynn Hatcher agreed in a special city council meeting Monday to return the overpayment of a $21,000 vehicle reimbursement at $500 a month until it is repaid in full. The payment of $1,000 a month instead of $500 for the past 42 months was due to a clerical error, the council was told.

“I have a proposal to the council for a repayment for those funds — not that I am guilty of anything, but it is the right thing to do,” Hatcher said.

The proposal of repayment was a week after the overpayment was noticed and discussed during a 2016 budget meeting. The council voted unanimously Nov. 9 to fire Hatcher, but Mayor Mike Robertson vetoed that decision the following day.

On Monday, the council made a motion to accept Hatcher’s proposal and unanimously voted for it. The $500 will come out of Hatcher’s monthly paycheck.

The city will purchase a 2016 Dodge crew cab pickup for $24,473 for the Beebe Parks Department. Hatcher will use his truck without a vehicle reimbursement until the new parks’ truck arrives. Every month that he drives his vehicle will be a repayment to the city in lieu for $500 for up to three months. When the truck arrives, the money will be deducted from his check.

On Tuesday, Alderman David Pruitt told The Leader, “I am thankful that Lynn Hatcher is returning the money back to the citizens of Beebe.”

Alderman Linda Anthony thanked Hatcher for offering his proposal.

Alderman Matthew Duggar said, “(Hatcher) in doing this, shows everyone at this table how much you love this city. It takes a lot of guts to sit here and do this. Thank you and we’re glad we can continue to work with you.”

City Clerk/Treasurer Carol Westergren said, “I truly believe it was a data entry error. We had a new system. I am sorry the mistake happened. I am sorry it was not caught earlier. As we mature in our roles, we learn what folks need to do to deal with the budget.

“This year we came up with a spreadsheet and thought it would be easier for you all to understand how people were making what they were making so it would be easier to explain to employees that along with their salary that they were getting these benefits, which is part of their package,” she said.

“That is how this was discovered. I truly wished this had not happened. I truly wished we did this spreadsheet three years ago. We are only human. We handle a lot of things in our office. I am truly sorry. Mistakes happen,” Westergren said.

Mayor Robertson chastised The Leader in a prepared speech for its coverage of the parks director story.

Anthony also criticized this reporter for his reporting.

She claimed people were spreading lies. Anthony said she works in Little Rock and Alderman Pruitt brought shame to Beebe with his accusations. Anthony called Pruitt a coward and said his motives were politically motivated for his re-election in 2016.

Anthony said that on Tuesday before last Hatcher did offer to repay the money, saying, “‘I’d rather keep my job, if I had to pay the money back.’ Was I the only one that heard that?” Anthony asked.

Several aldermen said they heard Hatcher’s remark, but at that time no council member made a motion for him to repay the money.

Robertson said there had been questions about how Hatcher was handling gate and concession money.

Westergren said when Hatcher was hired, the city put new procedures in place because of a problems under a previous parks director. Two people would audit the gate and concession money and take it to the bank.

She said she hired two employees before Hatcher was hired. Hatcher retained them. The two employees from 2012-14 signed off on every audit sheet and one of them took the money to the bank. It was then dropped off in a lock box.

Westergren’s department head, and both of the two employees, had that key.

Hatcher did not have those keys. She said either she or one of her staff members picked up the money bag in the morning.

“In my opinion, there is no way Lynn could have stolen from the gate, the concession or the pool,” Westergren said.

TOP STORY >> Victim’s DNA is detected in Lewis’ vehicle

Leader staff writer

Even as realtor Beverly Carter’s loved ones listened to secretly recorded interviews between police and her alleged killer during a seven-hour hearing held Monday to determine what can be used at trial, more evidence surfaced.

Chief deputy prosecutor John Johnson told Circuit Judge Herb Wright that the state Crime Lab had called earlier in the day to say hair found in the trunk of Arron Lewis’ car was a match for the 49-year-old realtor, who was abducted last year.

Carter’s body was found Sept. 27, 2014, in a shallow grave near Hwy. 5 in north Pulaski County on the property of a concrete company where Lewis had been previously employed.

The wife and mother had been reported missing a few days earlier, when she didn’t return from showing a house in Scott. Her vehicle and purse, locked inside it, were found at the scene.

The judge, after hearing about the hair, said prosecutors should check to see that there are no other pending tests related to the case. He gave both sides a week to submit a 15-page brief covering all the issues, and said he would rule on them next month.

Wright will be deciding whether a jury will hear from Lewis’ estranged wife at his trial, listen to the recordings played at the hearing and see items collected from his car and their home in Gravel Ridge.

His wife, Crystal Hope Lowery, pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in exchange for 30 years behind bars for Carter’s kidnapping and first-degree murder. She has filed for a divorce from her co-defendant.

Defense attorneys are arguing that Lewis can invoke marital privilege to keep Lowery from testifying against their client.

The items seized with search warrants they claim were too broad based on what was known at the time they were executed include Carter’s phone — found inside the house at 165 Randall Drive — green duct tape, a disposable camera, a baseball bat and jewelry.

The defense had motioned for suppression of evidence from a laptop and thumb drive, but prosecutors told the judge they didn’t plan to use either.

A parade of investigators took the stand Monday to answer questions related to claims that some tapes are inadmissible because Lewis didn’t waive his rights and asked for, but was not provided with, an attorney during the interrogation.

The investigators also spoke of how the Gravel Ridge home was placed under surveillance when texts and calls to the victim, according to her phone records, were traced to Lowery’s account with a cell phone application that allows people to call or text others using a number other than their own.

Lewis was followed from the home because he and the car he was driving matched neighbors’ descriptions of a man and vehicle seen at the house in Scott.

He crashed into a ditch — Lewis says in the tapes that this was when his plans were foiled — and left the hospital before being arrested, according to officers’ testimony. The cell phone used to contact Carter was found on Lewis and seized by an investigator.

The recordings were made without Lewis’ knowledge because, according to law enforcement, he said he would speak to them without a lawyer only if he weren’t taped.

Those in the courtroom for the hearing also heard Lewis telling officers he would confess to Carter’s kidnapping if the case went to a federal court, instead of a state court.

The accused told an investigator at one point, “I know I’m (expletive) right now but I’m going to get (same expletive) the way I want to get (same expletive).”

On the tapes, he asks an FBI agent what he could have done that would be a federal offense.

The accused also says in the recordings that he’s going away for a long time and had “struggled for chances” as a seven-time felon.

Lewis can be heard telling an investigator that his wife didn’t know the type of person he was and that he doesn’t have a “spectrum of what I will or won’t do.”

The accused wondered aloud, in the recordings, whether he has a conscience.

Lewis could be heard saying over and over that time was running out for the victim, at one point stating, “keep killing time; you’re killing her.”

He also insisted that he committed the crime for money, intending to hold Carter for ransom. But the accused added that he would get something out of the kidnapping that “went bad” — “a hot second of fame” and a media “extravaganza.”

Also, during the interviews, he played for deputies a recording of the victim meant for her husband. She says, “Carl, it’s Beverly. I just want to let you know I’m OK. I haven’t been hurt. Just do what he says, and please don’t call the police. If you call the police, it could be bad. Just want you to know that I love you very much.”

Lewis testified at the end of the hearing that sheriff’s deputies beat him up in the bathroom after escorting him there during the interrogation. It was after that he led them to two locations. Carter was not found at either place.

Defense attorneys interrupted the testimony several times with objections, asking that the scope of questions be limited.

But the judge said that was his call and urged the prosecutor to continue, but to do so quickly.

Later on, he told defense attorneys, “At this point, we’re dealing more with whether or not your client’s testimony is credible at all, and that’s a determination I’ve got to make, too, and I’m making that based on his responses...”

The judge also shot down another objection after their client was asked whether he used a screwdriver to threaten individuals pursuing him just before his arrest.

Lewis said he didn’t pull a screwdriver on anyone, and replied “yes, sir” when asked if he jumped out of a second-story window during the police chase.

The defendant said he did so “because (an officer) was on the second floor and he said, ‘come here’ and I said ‘no’ and I jumped.”

Lewis had said previously he didn’t remember the route police drove after he was taken into custody because he was in shock from being arrested.

The prosecutor wanted to know why the defendant was in shock, since he knew police were looking for him. Lewis then denied that he was running from officers.

He was finally asked whether the sheriff’s department advised him of his rights, and the defendant responded, “At what point? I’m not going to give an open-ended answer.”

The judge chastised Lewis for being evasive.

Wright warned, “Your attorneys want you to stop as soon as possible” and instructed the defendant to answer each question and wait for the next one.

Lewis said in response to another question that the FBI agent advised him of his rights while sheriff’s deputies were present. He testified that, at some point but not initially, he told the agent he had asked for an attorney.

Law enforcement officials testified that Lewis was read his rights and didn’t ask for an attorney, saying only that he wouldn’t talk without one unless he were not recorded.

They said he refused to sign a statement acknowledging his rights but did so verbally, although it wasn’t taped because — at first — they were in a room with a video monitor that didn’t have the ability to record.

Also, the judge was told early in the hearing that prosecutors planned to present Lewis’ criminal background of scamming people and thievery, to establish money as his motive for Carter’s kidnapping and murder.