Friday, January 08, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Red Devils get win after slow start

Leader sportswriter

The Jacksonville girls trailed by five points at halftime of Tuesday’s 5A-Central Conference opener against winless J.A. Fair, but the Lady Red Devils came alive in the second half and left the Devils’ Den with a 60-40 win over the Lady War Eagles.

Jacksonville (7-8, 1-0) led 14-10 at the end of the first quarter, but had seven turnovers in the second quarter alone. Three of those turnovers were on steals by Fair point guard Jabreonia Veasey, who led the Lady War Eagles (0-12, 0-1) with 14 points – all of which came in the first half.

Turnovers hurt the Lady Red Devils in the first two quarters, and Jacksonville coach Crystal Scott said the reason for some of those turnovers is because the team is having to play some inexperienced players at point guard, due to injuries on Scott’s nine-player team.

“I’ve got some inexperienced kids who are playing point,” said Scott. “The kids with experience at the position, both of them are hurt. Alexis James is playing on a bummed knee.”

James played Tuesday, but with a large knee brace and isn’t 100 percent.

“She just kind of sucked it up,” The Jacksonville girls trailed by five points at halftime of Tuesday’s 5A-Central Conference opener against winless J.A. Fair, but the Lady Red Devils came alive in the second half and left the Devils’ Den with a 60-40 win over the Lady War Eagles.

Jacksonville (7-8, 1-0) led 14-10 at the end of the first quarter, but had seven turnovers in the second quarter alone. Three of those turnovers were on steals by Fair point guard Jabreonia Veasey, who led the Lady War Eagles (0-12, 0-1) with 14 points – all of which came in the first half.

Turnovers hurt the Lady Red Devils in the first two quarters, and Jacksonville coach Crystal Scott said the reason for some of those turnovers is because the team is having to play some inexperienced players at point guard, due to injuries on Scott’s nine-player team.

“I’ve got some inexperienced kids who are playing point,” said Scott. “The kids with experience at the position, both of them are hurt. Alexis James is playing on a bummed knee.”

James played Tuesday, but with a large knee brace and isn’t 100 percent.

“She just kind of sucked it up,” Scott said of James, “which is what she’s going to have to do for the next couple of weeks. We really need to be in a position where we can rest her, but we can’t, because our other point guard (Josie Starr) is out with an ankle injury.”

Fair led 28-23 at halftime, and scored the first basket of the second half to lead 30-23. Jacksonville upped its aggressiveness in the final two quarters. The Lady Red Devils took their first lead of the third quarter on a running floater off the glass by Desiree Williams with 3:10 to go in the quarter, which made the score 33-32.

Jacksonville upped its lead to 38-34 by the end of the quarter. Veasey fouled out with 6:37 left in the fourth quarter with Jacksonville leading 40-34. Veasey didn’t score in the second half, and the Lady War Eagles didn’t get much offensive production from anyone else.

Fair was held to six points in each of the last two quarters, and committed 16 turnovers in the second half. Nine of those turnovers were Jacksonville steals. Jacksonville had just five turnovers in the second half after committing 12 in the first half.

With 4:22 to go in the fourth, Jacksonville’s lead grew to 47-37 on back-to-back steals and layups by Emily Lovercheck and Nastassia Williams. Lovercheck set the final score with a corner 3-pointer with 26 seconds left to play.

The Lady Devils finished the game 22 for 69 from the floor for 32 percent. Fair was 15 for 52 from the floor for 29 percent. From the free-throw line, Jacksonville was 14 for 32 and Fair was 9 for 20. Jacksonville outrebounded Fair 43-31.

“A win’s a win,” Scott said. “You’ve got to take them anyway you can get them.”

Veasey’s 14 points led all scorers and she was the only Fair player to score in double figures. Three different Lady Devils scored in double figures. Desiree Williams led the way with 13 points. Lovercheck scored 12 and Nastassia Williams scored 11. Taylor Toombs led Jacksonville with 11 rebounds.

Jacksonville played another 5A-Central game at crosstown rival North Pulaski last night after deadlines. Look for details of that game in Wednesday’s edition of The Leader.

SPORTS STORY >> Lonoke gets big sweep of Newport

Leader sports editor

The Lonoke basketball teams got an easy sweep of the Newport Greyhounds Tuesday night in Jackson County. Both teams led by 30 at the end of the third quarter to invoke the sportsmanship rule in the first game back in 4A-2 Conference play after the holiday break. The Lonoke boys cruised to a 69-32 victory while the girls won 57-20.

“Early night for a four-game road trip,” said Lonoke athletic director and girls’ basketball coach Nathan Morris. “The junior high teams won pretty easy. The senior girls and senior boys both got the clock running in the fourth. We all got home a little earlier than usual, so that was good.”

Morris’ Lady Jackrabbits raced out to a 16-4 lead in the first quarter, largely from getting the ball inside, where senior post player Ashlyn Allen finished well around the basket.

“Ashlyn led us in scoring,” Morris said. “She had 18 and 10 in the first quarter. Our offense was good, execution was good, and Ashlyn did a good job of finishing and making sure all that execution wasn’t for nothing.”

Lonoke (11-4, 4-2) had its best offensive quarter of the game in the third, scoring 20 points and taking a 53-19 lead into the final frame.

Senior Jarrelyn McCall and sophomore Keiunna Walker finished with 17 points each.

“That’s 52 of our 57 points from just those three,” Morris said. “So they had good games offensively. We’re going to need them to keep having good games because we’re about to hit a tough stretch. We have CAC, Riverview, eStem and Heber all coming up, so this little stretch of easy games is over and we’re going to have to get ready to pick it up.”

The boys also had a big lead at halftime, and also put the game away in the third period. But it wasn’t just the third quarter that pleased boys’ coach Dean Campbell.

“For the second game in a row I thought we came out and put four really good quarters together,” said Campbell. “We played hard the whole time and that makes a world of difference. In a lot of early games we wouldn’t play hard until we were backed into a corner and then try to pull it out. Hopefully we’ve got it figured out enough that, yea, we’re talented, but we’re not talented enough to turn it on and off like that. We have to give 100 percent the whole time.”

Lonoke’s pressure defense created several transition dunks and layups in the third quarter. Kylan Branscomb and Justin Meadows each got two breakaway dunks, which in turn helped ignite the defensive intensity. The Jackrabbits also had bragging rights on the line, playing against their former assistant coach Heath Swinney for the first time. Swinney is now the head coach of the Greyhounds.

“All those guys had coach Swinney as their junior high coach,” Campbell said. “They were excited to get to see him, and they wanted to beat him. It was a good overall game for our guys to get conference started back.”

Branscomb and Meadows also led the team in scoring with 14 points apiece. Bryson Jackson added 11 for the Jackrabbits. The key statistic for Campbell, however, was points off turnovers. Lonoke (9-7, 2-4) forced 19 turnovers and scored 31 points on the ensuing possessions after turnover.

“That’s almost half our point total coming off turnovers,” Campbell said. “So we not only forced them, but we capitalized when we got them, and that’s huge for us.”

Lonoke hosted CAC last night after Leader deadlines. Look for details of those games in Wednesday’s Leader. The Jackrabbits and Lady Rabbits will travel to Riverview on Tuesday.

SPORTS STORY >> Beebe girls clobber the Comets

Leader sports editor

The Beebe Lady Badgers made short work of Mills University Studies in the 5A-Central Conference opener Tuesday night at Badger Arena. The Lady Badgers cruised to a 68-23 victory over the winless Lady Comets, while the Badger boys lost 68-40 to the highly-ranked Comets.

The Beebe girls opened with some pressure defense and Mills had no answer. Turnover after turnover led to layup after layup for the Lady Badgers. Beebe led 29-2 by the end of the first quarter and coach Greg Richey went deep down his bench early and often.

The Lady Badgers dominated every statistical category, outrebounding Mills 35-15 and totaling 18 steals in the game.

The Lady Badgers only managed to outscore Mills 13-7 in the second quarter, but reeled off 22 in the third to take a 50-point lead, 64-14, into the final frame, where the Lady Comets were able to cut that margin slightly by game’s end.

Senior post player Gracie Anders led all scorers with 13 points. Sophomore Libbie Hill added 11 while juniors Kierston Miller and Hannah Camp scored 10 points apiece for the Lady Badgers.

In the boys’ game, Mills took control early and was never threatened. Brad Worthington and Bryson Bell each scored 11 points to lead the Badgers.

Beebe played at Pulaski Academy on Friday in a crucial early girls’ game in the 5A-Central. Look for details of that game in Wednesday’s Leader.

The Badgers’ and Lady Badgers’ next game will be at home on Tuesday against McClellan.

SPORTS STORY >> Bears better in conference rout of Bruins

Leader sports editor

The Sylvan Hills Bears not only avenged a tournament loss exactly a week earlier, but also completely turned the tables on Pulaski Academy when it counted most on Tuesday. The Bears suffered a 57-39 loss to the Bruins in the Spa City Classic in Hot Springs over the holiday break, but in the 5A-Central Conference opener for both teams, Sylvan Hills dominated PA 70-48 in Sherwood.

“Sit as long as you like after a game like this,” Sylvan Hills coach Kevin Davis told reporters after the game. “This’ll be a whole lot nicer conversation than the ones we had last time.”

Davis didn’t find much to complain about after the game, but did say it could’ve been even easier than it was.

“We’re getting turnovers right and left in the first quarter, and if we could hit a layup, we put this one away real early,” Davis said. “The main thing, though, was the difference in the effort. I knew if we could keep that pressure up we’d start hitting a few.”

Sylvan Hills did force 12 turnovers in the first quarter, but only scored six points off those turnovers and only led 9-6 at the end of the frame.

The pressure greatly frustrated the Bruins. Late in the first, PA’s Tulsa University signee Lawson Korita picked up two quick fouls, one for trying to defend a Jordan Washington putback, and another for shoving Jacobé Davis near midcourt while Washington was shooting free throws.

“That was just pure frustration from Lawson there,” Kevin Davis said. “We’ve been playing him for four years now and he’s never shown that kind of thing before. Nothing but respect for that young man. We put in a special game plan for him tonight because he’s worthy of it. He put up 28 on us just a week ago, but I think Cobe got to him tonight and he got frustrated. It just happens sometimes.”

Jacobé Davis’ job was to stick with Korita wherever he went. It wasn’t a job Kevin Davis assigned to him, but one he asked for.

“When I told them what the plan was, he stepped up and asked for that position,” Kevin Davis said of his sophomore transfer from Mills.

The Bruin turnovers continued in the second quarter and the Bears got better at converting them into points, that is until the final minute. The Bears led 30-18 with a minute remaining and got two layups and a trip to the free-throw line to extend the lead, but failed to do so.

After forcing another turnover, Bears’ point guard Cordy Winston rushed a contested shot with nine seconds remaining and missed. Korita got the rebound and found teammate Trey Johnson with an outlet pass for a layup at the buzzer that cut the margin to 10.

But Sylvan Hills (9-4, 1-0) took charge in the third. The Bears pushed the lead to 41-24 by the two-minute mark, and with a minute remaining in the period, Korita picked up his fourth foul. He only sat the rest of the third and finished the game without fouling out, but was tired from spending so much energy trying to lose Jacobé Davis.

That was obvious when he got his first wide-open look at a 3-point shot with 3:25 left in the game and air-balled it short of the rim and out of bounds.

Another major improvement by Sylvan Hills from its first game against PA to Tuesday was seen at the free-throw line. The Bears shot 51 percent from the line in their three games at the Spa City Classic, and was worse than that in the first half on Tuesday, hitting just 6 of 13 free-throw attempts. But in the second half, Sylvan Hills made 17 of 20.

Pulaski Academy (6-3, 0-1) went 10 for 18 from 3-point range against the Bears in Hot Springs, but only 4 for 18 on Tuesday.

Despite wearing Jacobé Davis the whole game, Korita still led the Bruins in scoring and rebounding with 15 points and seven boards. Rico Lindsey came off the bench to add 10 for PA.

Winston led all scorers with 20 points. He also had four assists. Washington turned in a double-double with 18 points and 14 rebounds. Jacobé Davis scored 13 and Sam Williams added 10 for the Bears, including 8 for 9 at the free throw line when PA had to foul to try and extend the game.

EDITORIAL >> Bumpers’ legacy II

Former Governor and Senator Dale Bumpers, who passed away on New Year’s Day at the age of 90, was born Aug. 12, 1925, at Charleston, the county seat of southern Franklin County.

His father was William Rufus Bumpers, an Irishman, and his mother was the former Lattie Jones, who had Irish and Welsh ancestors. The elder Bumpers taught school and farmed 40 acres on an Ozark hillside in the Cecil community until their first son died from eating a bad watermelon. His mother declared that she was not going to have children on the lonely farm only to see them die for lack of a doctor, so they moved to Charleston, where there was sometimes a doctor. Dale Bumpers was the youngest of three children who survived to adulthood.

His father clerked in a grocery store and later became a partner in a hardware and furniture store and still later a funeral home. Funeral homes were usually associated with hardware stores, which built the caskets. His father, who was fascinated by politics and by Roosevelt, was a good speaker and was in demand for banquets and funerals. The elder Bumpers was elected to the state House of Representatives in 1932 at the depth of the Depression and wanted to run for Congress, but his wife made him quit because she feared they were going to starve.

Although his Ozark town was some distance removed from the biracial South where the great civil rights battles were joined, the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown decision outlawing racially segregated schools in 1954 pulled Dale Bumpers into the eddies of the coming maelstrom and reaffirmed his father’s expectation that politics and public office were his destiny.

Weeks after the decision in 1954, the Charleston school superintendent came to him, the community’s only lawyer, and asked what the decision meant for his schools. Bumpers said integration was now the law of the land and the law had to be obeyed, and better sooner than later. Charleston had a tiny elementary school two miles east of town and one teacher for the handful of black children, and the half-dozen or so high school students were taken by bus to an African-American school in Fort Smith. Bumpers said integration could be achieved easily in the fall term and he suggested that it could be sold as a big tax savings. All the separate cost of the black grade school and busing the high school students to Fort Smith could be saved and spent upgrading the existing schools. The superintendent asked him to persuade the school board and the business community. The school board voted to integrate immediately.

Charleston was the only school district in the South that totally integrated in 1954. The night the board voted to integrate, Bumpers’ brother-in-law, Archie Schaffer II, announced he was resigning from the board to work for a year in Korea, and the board appointed Bumpers to take his place. The integration went smoothly—there was no statewide publicity about the integration—except for the refusal of a few schools to let Charleston’s black students play football on their fields and the band’s trombone player being banned from the bi-state band festival because he was black.

“We knuckled under to that,” Bumpers would recall 55 years later. “I’ve always been embarrassed about that. We should have told them we won’t play you, but we didn’t.”

But real trouble was only delayed.

When Gov. Orval E. Faubus sent the National Guard to Central High School to block the entrance of nine black children in 1957, it occurred to some in Charleston that their school didn’t have to integrate either. There was a move to return to segregated schools, but in a school board election Bumpers and an ally defeated two candidates who ran on the promise to send blacks back to their own schools. Bumpers would recall getting gallons of turpentine and stiff brooms from his hardware store the night before school opening and, with the janitor and a helper, scrubbing off graffiti that had been painted early in the evening in giant block letters across the front of the high school: “niggers stay home.”

“I drove down to the school the next morning because I knew who the culprits were just as well as I knew my name, and I wanted to see the look on their faces when they realized that artwork of theirs on the side of the school building was gone,” he said. “Sure enough, they came and you could just see the look of disappointment all over their faces.”

When a truckload of hooligans terrorized a black family on a road outside town one night, Bumpers drove his ’54 Pontiac into the family’s yard and sat with the father on the porch far into the night. When the hooligans saw Bumpers’ car they stopped shouting and cursing, stopped at a distance and finally drove away.

As a senator, Bumpers had Charleston designated as a national commemorative site in recognition of its being the first school district in the South to totally integrate after the Brown decision.

Bumpers decided to launch his political career in 1962 and ran for the House of Representatives from Franklin County but realized almost immediately that it was hopeless. He ran against Mike Womack, the Franklin County circuit clerk, who lived in the far more populous part of the county north of the Arkansas River. Bumpers went through the motions of campaigning and was beaten handily.

“I really felt that I had done what my father wanted me to do, and I didn’t ever want to go through that again,” he remembered. “I didn’t think I would ever run again. I went back to that law office the next day and started to make money. That was my goal at that point, to make money. I did a pretty good job of it.” — Ernie Dumas

TOP STORY >> County hires spokeswoman

Cozetta Jones has been hired as Pulaski County’s communications director. County Judge Barry Hyde County made the announcement on Wednesday.

Jones will be in charge of promoting Pulaski County initiatives and services and will serve as the public spokeswoman.

“Ms. Jones will help spotlight all the wonderful work that is being done throughout the county and develop strategies to improve and strengthen the image of the Pulaski County government’s role in the community,” Hyde said.

Jones said, “Pulaski County has been my home for more than 30 years. I’m proud to serve in this role for the community in which my family and I live.”

Jones was previously communications director and a lobbyist for the Arkansas State Employees Association.

During the 90th General Assembly, she worked with the Bureau of Legislative Research to draft ASEA’s first legislative bill to focus on state employee retention. House Bill 1954, now Act 1068, created the Arkansas Workforce Retention Task Force for which she served as chair from June through December.

She has also worked as communications director for the Arkansas Minority Health Commission and as a writer and editor for UAMS.

She has a bachelor’s in journalism from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and a master’s in communications management from Webster University.

TOP STORY >> Thurman will build school in a village

Cabot School Superintendent Tony Thurman will travel to the Dominican Republic from Jan. 18-26 to build a new school as part of a program sponsored by Lifetouch Photography, a school-photo company.

It will be the fifth time the Lifetouch Memory Mission has served the mountainous farming community of Constanza, Dominican Republic.

Lifetouch “organizes the trip and invites school administrators, school board members, principals, other educators and PTA members to work alongside volunteers and Dominican nationals to build the school.”

Volunteers have already built an elementary school there, which serves hundreds of children who otherwise would not have received an education. They have also built a vocational school, providing a place for students to continue their education, offering greater opportunities for careers as adults.

Now, Thurman will be one of 52 volunteers who will begin construction on a new elementary school there.

The group will also visit with community members, interact with teachers and students. The Lifetouch Memory Mission started in 2000 and has rebuilt a village in Kosovo, repaired homes in Appalachia, established a children’s center in Jamaica, built a footbridge for students to walk to school in the land of the Navajo in Arizona and built 13 schools in Haiti and the Dominican Republic

TOP STORY >> Son joins his father at clinic

Leader staff writer

Second-generation chiropractor Chad Bryant has joined his father, Tim, at Bryant Neck and Back Pain Center, 1014 W. Main St. in Cabot.

Chad, a 2008 Cabot High School graduate, earned his bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Arkansas in 2012. He graduated in 2015 from the Cleveland Chiropractic College in Kansas City, Kan.

He finished schooling early and shadowed his father until becoming licensed in December.

Chad, who is 26, grew up around chiropractics. His father started the business 27 years ago. Chad started working around the office as a seventh grader during the summers and continued on and off through college.

But, he said, he really became interested in chiropractics during college.

At his father’s office, he said, “I saw people come in limping with pain and leave a couple weeks later with less pain or no pain. I really liked that.

“I noticed, in college, students were getting sick. They would go to the health center and get a pill, and another if it did not work. I worked with Dad and thought there was another alternative,” Chad said.

Patients come to the family practice with headaches, neck pain, back pain and sciatica — pain affecting the large nerve that runs from the lower back down each leg.

Tim said anyone can benefit from a chiropractor, even if they aren’t in pain. Neck and back pain can occur to hairdressers who are standing all day. Computer users sitting behind a desk and truck drivers can experience issues. People who frequently look down at their smartphones can bring their necks out of position.

Chad said people seeking alleviation from back or neck pain have lingering effects from car wrecks and muscle tightness from high-impact jobs, such as construction or military activities, and even sports.

Neck and back pain can compound to cause headaches.

Chad said chiropractors can help pregnant women deal with the back pain from carrying the extra weight and pressure on their spines.

He said children can also benefit from chiropractics.

Chad uses his hands and noninvasive technology to help correct alignment of the spine.

Bryant Neck and Back Pain Center offers physical therapy for the spine and massage therapy.

Tim is also able to perform acupuncture.

About working with his dad, Chad said, “Our personalities are similar. We can joke around and do not really get mad.

Tim said, “It is really cool. It is one of the greatest compliments that your child will follow in your footsteps in a profession. They say imitation is the greatest form of flattery.”

TOP STORY >> Detour ends as repairs finished

Leader staff writer

Kerr Station Road between Panther Trail and Hwy. 321 in Cabot reopened on Friday after being closed since October for a drainage improvement project.

Many residents of the Bluebird Way apartment complex, who lived nearest to the closure, were relieved the road opened.

“We are thrilled to death that it’s done. It took me 35 minutes to get down Panther Trail in the mornings and afternoons when the schools were open. It took forever. Now it takes four minutes,” resident Barbara Bennett said.

Apartment manager Tammy Carmical said, “It was very inconvenient to have it closed. It added six minutes to my commute. But it was a lot quieter without the traffic. We are just thankful it is open again.

“We are also thankful for the drainage improvements. We had a serious issue with flooding and hope it will help out.”

A resident, who did not want to be named, said, “It is about time. It shouldn’t have taken that long. It was very aggravating.”

Cabot Middle School South office manager Tina Latimer said, “We are excited that it is open. It will help with the traffic flow and save time getting students in the car-rider lines in and out quicker.”

Public works director Brian Boroughs told The Leader on Friday the project was delayed one week due to the weather.

“The wet times are not ideal to set up gravel roadbed. It needs time for the rock to dry before paving,” Boroughs said.

He said results could be seen during the heavy rains in December. The additional pipes installed improved water flow in the project area.

“There will be intermittent lane closures to finish the project, adding guard rails and road striping,” Boroughs said.

The Kerr Station Road drainage improvement project was funded with an $811,000 grant from the Arkansas Department of Economic Development. Work on funding began under then-Mayor Eddie Joe Williams’ administration to enhance the Diamond Creek drainage basin. It is one of the main drainage basins in the city, and there had been flooding.

The grant funds had to be used before 2016. The city had already requested extensions, but officials’ only option was to close a section of Kerr Station Road near Hwy. 321 from Oct. 27 to Dec. 31.

The original drainage improvement plan was to concrete the ditch from Hwy. 89 north of the Knight’s grocery store down to the Community Park on Campground and Kerr Station roads. The plan was approved by engineers in 2012, but, during 2013, the Army Corps of Engineers did not approve the designs due to environmental concerns. The plan had to be redesigned and was approved in 2014.

The project had three parts: to improve the culvert sections at Campground and Kerr Station roads from April 1, 2015, to June 1; the Kerr Station Road floodway from June 1 to Aug. 7, and the drainage basin west of South Haven between Panther Trail and Hwy. 321 after Aug. 8.

Spring rains delayed the project. The city coordinated with the school district to work on the roads used as bus routes first because they could not be closed. Summer, when school was out, was the only time to work on those portions.

The closed section of Kerr Station Road near Hwy. 321 is not used by buses. It is mostly morning and afternoon school traffic to Middle School South. However, it is one of the most used roads in Cabot.

The drainage project allowed for the widening of the shoulders with guard rails over the flood basin. It will allow for expanding Kerr Station Road to three lanes in the future without having to add bridges. A right-turn lane from Campground Road onto Kerr Station Road was also added.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

EDITORIAL >> Bumpers’ legacy (I)

Dale Bumpers, whom a poll of historians and political scientists in 1998 ranked as Arkansas’ only great governor of the 20th century and who served for nearly a quarter of a century in the U.S. Senate, died Friday night at his home at Little Rock.

Bumpers, who was 90, fractured a hip in a fall at his home in early December. His health had declined for a year and he could not regain his equilibrium after the fall and surgery.

Although Bumpers’ magical election in 1970, when he went from small-town oblivion to triumph over two of the greatest politicians of the era, established his reputation as a giant killer and the most successful reformer in the state’s history, it was only preparation for a career in Washington that he expected to lead to the presidency. He was celebrated as the finest orator in Congress, but the presidency eluded him. Twice he made some preparation to run but he backed out each time. He ended his career a month after retiring in 1999 by making the final defense of President Clinton in his impeachment trial before the Senate. The speech was regarded as the best oration in Congress of the 20th century.

Politics and the notion of public service were Bumpers’ passion since childhood, when his father imbued in him the ideas that it was the noblest of callings and that he could be president one day and, like Franklin D. Roosevelt, perform wonders for his country. But Dale Leon Bumpers spent his early adult years practicing law, running a hardware store and raising three children in a tiny town east of Fort Smith and didn’t enter politics seriously until 1970, when at the age of 45 he suddenly ran for governor in a crowd of well-known Democratic politicians seeking to unseat Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller, who was running for a third term.

Though unknown and a political naïf who had little money and no connections, Bumpers vanquished a six-term governor, the hitherto unbeatable Orval E. Faubus, and also the popular attorney general, the speaker of the House of Representatives, the former president of the Arkansas Bar Association and three other men with political experience in the Democratic primaries and then defeated Gov. Rockefeller in a landslide. An aide to Rockefeller confided that the governor had spent close to $10 million on his re-election effort. Vice President Spiro Agnew, who came to Fort Smith to campaign for Rockefeller, scoffed that Bumpers had nothing going for him but “a smile and a shoeshine.” Agnew’s description followed Bumpers for years.

The victory established Bumpers as a political giant killer. In the course of his 28-year career, he defeated four men who had served or would serve as governor—Faubus, Rockefeller, Mike Huckabee (in a 1992 Senate race) and Asa Hutchinson (in a 1986 Senate race), all by large margins, in addition to one of the state’s most distinguished and longest-serving senators, J. William Fulbright.

Two rare characteristics marked the Bumpers political phenomenon. He didn’t criticize his political opponents or run negative ads about them because his father thought such conduct was unseemly, and he followed his own, usually liberal, instincts as both governor and senator, disregarding polls or conventional wisdom about what politicians could do in a deeply conservative electorate. Votes for taxes, civil rights, unrestrained free speech and even returning the Panama Canal to Panama barely diminished his popularity.

Distressed by the growing incivility in Congress—Republican senators had been among his closest friends—Bumpers did not run again in 1998 and soon afterward moved home to Little Rock.

As governor, Bumpers pushed tax increases through the legislature and as a senator he voted against President Ronald Reagan’s big 1982 tax cut, accurately predicting that it would produce mammoth budget deficits, but he voted for Reagan’s tax increases that followed and those of George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton. He fought constitutional amendments pushed by other Southern senators that amended the Bill of Rights to make government-sponsored prayer in the schools legal, protect flags from being used in protests and prevent busing to achieve school integration.

After his retirement in 1999, Bumpers marveled that Arkansas voters had tolerated his excursions from conservative orthodoxy and always returned him to office. He thought fund-raising was corrupting for politicians, particularly in legislative bodies, and was grateful that Arkansas voters never made him do much of it.

Although he confessed many years later that he hated every day that he was governor, those consequential four years established Bumpers’ reputation. In 1998, Dr. Cal Ledbetter and Dr. Fred Williams, the political science and history chairs at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, did a survey of political scientists and historians asking them to evaluate and rank all the 20th century Arkansas governors from Jeff Davis through Mike Huckabee, who was then in his first term. Bumpers emerged as the only “great” governor, owing to the raft of reforms achieved in the four years through the passage of laws and executive decisions. — Ernie Dumas

TOP STORY >> Hearing weighs evidence

Leader staff writer

Text messages prosecutors say show Arron Lewis and his wife, Crystal Lowery, planned to abduct a real estate broker for ransom will be used at next week’s trial, the judge ruled Tuesday.

Lewis, of Gravel Ridge, is accused of kidnapping and killing realtor Beverly Carter. His capital murder trial is Tuesday, and he recently changed his plea from not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect to a defense of general denial.

The victim’s body was found in a shallow grave Sept. 27, 2014, near Hwy. 5 in north Pulaski County on the property of a concrete company Lewis had previously worked for. Carter had been reported missing a few days earlier, when she didn’t return from showing a house in Scott.

Prosecutors read some of the text messages in court this week, which they say is evidence of the couple’s scheme to pose as homebuyers, abduct a married “rich broker” who would meet with them alone and whose husband would pay for her safe return.

In the text messages, Lewis allegedly types that one house he went to had too many cameras and “I’m so ready to do this. I love adrenaline.”

The defense had claimed the texts sent before the crime was committed shouldn’t be admissible because they were confidential communication protected by marital privilege.

But Pulaski County Circuit Judge Herbert Wright allowed the text messages because they concern the alleged planning of the crime. He also noted that they were sent close to when Carter was kidnapped. The text messages begin on the 17th, and she was taken on the 25th.

The jury will also hear a recording of the victim meant for her husband. In it, Carter 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.”

The judge denied the defense’s motion to suppress that because, he said, law enforcement had already seized the phone before Lewis played the recording from it during an interrogation.

Wright also ruled that, while evidence — such as rope and the victim’s phone — found in the defendant’s car during an inventory search is admissible, Carter’s hair and pieces of tape that were in his trunk are not.

The judge previously ordered that items found in the car were inadmissable because the warrant to search it was overly broad and violated Lewis’ Fourth Amendment rights.

But, according to the written order, the evidence is admissible if found during an inventory search of the vehicle.

Wright this week said he disagreed with the prosecution’s claim that the hair and tape would have been found anyway, had the inventory search not been halted to obtain a warrant.

Another disputed item was a webpage advertising Carter’s services as a real estate broker. The judge said it couldn’t be used at trial unless, as prosecutors say she will, Lowery testifies that Lewis searched online for someone to target.

Wright also ruled that an email prosecutors say Lewis sent to the victim is admissible.

Lewis’ attorneys had also asked that Lowery be compelled to speak with them.

But the judge, after confirming that prosecutors are not denying access, said all he could do was ask that they encourage Lowery to speak with the defense. He noted that the prosecution should share with the other side any statements.

Prosecutors said they had and had also given defense attorneys a summary of what her testimony would be, although a defense attorney balked at the idea that those two pages would cover the length of her time on the stand.

Lowery’s attorney said in court this week that his client did not wish to speak with the defense before she is cross-examined at the trial.

Wright told the defense attorneys they would have “unbridled discretion” in cross-examining Lowery.

Lewis’ estranged wife has pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and kidnapping in exchange for 30 years in prison, but part of that deal was her agreeing to provide truthful testimony against her husband. She has also filed for a divorce.

The judge ruled in early December that Lowery could testify to anything she saw, heard or observed that was not a confidential communication, unless the confidential communication was made during joint criminal activity or in the presence of or disclosed to someone else.

The judge has also ruled that prosecutors can’t use some statements made to investigators or evidence found in Lewis’ home. The reasoning was that the defendant wasn’t provided an attorney after requesting one and that another overly broad search warrant violated his Fourth Amendment rights.

But still admissible is details Lewis gave to deputies while leading them to various places he said the victim had been and a comment about having “put her in a mixer.”

That was said after an investigator mentioned the Argos Concrete Plant near Cabot, where Carter’s body was found.

Any suppressed recordings of Lewis being interrogated can be reintroduced at trial if he takes the stand and what he says contradicts those statements to investigators.

TOP STORY >> Stories making Top 10 in 2015

Leader staff writer

A lot of news was packed in the pages of The Leader in 2015. Each of the 104 issues averaged about a dozen articles, a slew of briefs, national, state and local editorials and letters from across the regions, plus sports.

Information, good and bad, about the new Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District was in just about every issue. Readers were also kept abreast of the happenings on the air base and concerns with North Metro and weather, which included late snow and ice and winter floods.

These are the Top 10 topics culled from The Leader for 2015:


It’s taken more than 30 years, but Jacksonville will have its own school district starting in July. Most of the groundwork for that breakaway came in 2015.

The newly created district got its first interim superintendent in retired PCSSD Superintendent Bobby Lester, its first superintendent in former State Commissioner of Education Tony Wood, 64, its first appointed school board, its first elected school board and its first full-time employee in Phyllis Stewart.

The district’s appointed board set up zones for the election of the school board, opting for five zones and two at-large positions. This didn’t set well with the NAACP and others who wanted seven zones.

Superintendent Wood, along with the appointed and elected boards, approved a pay scale that focused on new and probationary teachers and gives a pay cut to any PCSSD teacher with 12 or more years of experience.

The district will be having all potential teachers apply for positions, just like they would if they wanted to stay with PCSSD or move to another district.

In a move to strengthen the new district, JNPSD, along with PCSSD, decided to board up Jacksonville Middle School and have the city’s middle school students attend Northwood Middle School for one year and then move over to North Pulaski High School, which will be renovated to be a long-term home to the middle-schoolers.

The district also voted to build a new high school on the grounds of the old Jacksonville Middle School with the thoughts that it would be a “shining jewel” that could be seen from Hwy. 167. It was one of three sites the district considered.


In early February, Beebe School Superintendent Belinda Shook took exception to the state designating Badger Academy as a school in academic distress. Shook said the facility is for students who have had a difficult time in the regular classroom and the focus is more on giving the student coping strategies and life skills rather than academics. She also argued that the population was very fluid, saying it was not designed for students to stay, but to move back into a regular classroom setting.

As Jacksonville was proceeding with its infant district, Sherwood and Maumelle received good news early in the year when a bill passed making it easier for those two cities to break away from PCSSD.

Even though PCSSD resolved 37 of the 38 issues that cause a state takeover of the district because of fiscal distress, the state board voted to continue control of the district for a fifth straight year.


Normally, most of the base news is positive and involves the economy, missions or C-130Js, but in June it was about an attack on the air base that left one man dead. North Pulaski County resident Larry McElroy, 43, crashed his vehicle into a sign near the main entrance and exited the vehicle with a weapon.

Two members of the 19th Security Forces Squadron fired at and hit McElroy. “My defenders did their job,” said. Col. Charles E. Brown Jr., commander of the Little Rock Air Force Base. The two guards, Staff Sgt. Zachary Freese and AIC Codee Smith were awarded Commendation Medals in September for their quick actions.

Little Rock Air Force Base did celebrate its 60th birthday during the year and, according to a report released mid-year, the air base’s economic impact on the surrounding area was more than $800 million and it indirectly created 3,279 jobs.

In February, more than $133 million worth of construction projects were started on the base, including a $108 million upgrade of the runway, a $21 million fuel cell and a $4.1 million flight simulator. Also, the old base exchange got a $3.7 million renovation and opened as a community support center for base members and their families.

In May, Col. Charles E. Brown took over the reins of the 19th Airlift Wing from retiring Col. Patrick Rhatigan. Brown was the 62nd Airlift Squadron commander at the base from 2009 to 2011.

With the arrival of its 24th C-130J in July, the base was just shy of its allotted 28 new cargo aircraft.


North Metro Medical Center spent three-fourths of the year in the news and mostly because of concerns and irregularities.

The hospital, owned by Rock Bordelon and Don Cameron, chief officials of Allegiance Health Management and a third party out of Dallas, was sued numerous times by various state entities for failure to pay withholding, unemployment, and worker’s compensation taxes and fees, most of which were taken out of employees’ paychecks.

The hospital workers also went about a month without insurance as the hospital failed to make insurance payments, and many workers are still waiting for insurance claims to be settled. Many emergency room doctors claimed slow or late pay. The hospital fired CEO Cindy Stafford in early summer, and appointed state Rep. Joe Farrer (R-Austin) as interim CEO, only to have him resign three months later.

Farrer claims it was over the owners keeping a doctor with alcohol issues, but Bordelon say Farrer was on his way out anyway for other issues, hinting that he had political dirt on the representative.

Dr. Phillips also denied persistent charges that he had been drinking while at the hospital. Arrested in 2012 for a DWI, Phillips said he was in a voluntary program that monitors and tests him regularly.


Four libraries made the news in 2015: The new $2.6 million Cabot library opened its doors; the Ward library closed Dec. 31; a new library in El Paso and bonds and a site were approved for Sherwood’s new facility.

In Sherwood, the council approved issuing $6 million in bonds, after voters passed a tax hike in 2o14 to build a new 14,000-square-foot library for the city. The bonds sold out in hours at a very favorable rate (about 3 percent) for the city. A site selection committee, after asking for land suggestions, picked a 21-acre site off of Maryland Avenue, but adjoining residents spoke against the idea and the council wanted to see more than just the top choice of the committee. After taking another look at all possible sites, the council decided on 18 acres off Hwy. 107, near the middle school. The negotiated price was about $900,000, close to double the proposed cost of the Maryland site, leaving about $3.9 million to build and furnish the new library. The facility is projected to open in the summer of 2017.

The new 24,000-square- foot Cabot facility, a major renovation of the old Knight’s store on West Main Street, opened in August and was an instant success.

With the help of volunteers, the community of El Paso spent most of the year transforming the old El Paso bank building into a modern-day library. Once finished, the facility will become part of the White County Regional Library System.


Jonathan McIntosh, a 35-year-old parolee, was shot and killed by Cabot police in late May when he maneuvered out of his handcuffs and fired a pistol at officers. He was being detained after police responded to a Cabot home and found McIntosh with a small bag of meth. His hands were cuffed behind his back, and he was placed in a patrol car as police continued their investigation.

Former Lonoke County Assessor Jack McNally, 58, was arrested in mid-May and charged with multiple felony counts after irregularities were reported in a legislative audit. McNally was charged with fraudulent use of a credit card, theft of property, possession of a firearm by a felon, violation of voter eligibility and violation of political practice pledge on falsification.

The largest state drug bust happened in early April on I-40 as Lonoke County checked out a large truck that was pulled over on the side of the interstate. State Police found and seized 276 pound of meth worth $10 million. The driver, from California, was charged on multiple drug counts.


In March, an ex-auxiliary sheriff’s deputy from Lonoke County pleaded guilty to the first-degree murder of his wife in December 2013. Charles Bryant was sentenced to life in prison.

Lindsey Colbert, 29, of Ward pleaded guilty in February to the starvation death of her 3-month-old son and was sentenced to eight years in prison.

In June, Jason Woodring, 38, of Jacksonville, pleaded guilty to destroying power lines around Cabot and Jacksonville and Scott in 2013. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Woodring’s attacks on the local grid caused about $5 million in damage and left as many as 9,000 area residents temporarily without power.

North Pulaski County resident Mark Dodson pleaded guilty to shooting a Jacksonville police officer during a drug bust and was given a 15-year sentence. The officer was treated for his wounds and released from the hospital just a few hours after the incident. Other officers returned fire, shooting and injuring Dodson.

Arthur Lockhart, 35, of Searcy was sentenced in early September to 40 years in prison for his part in the racially motivated stabbing death of a Cabot man outside The Hangar bar in 2014. His wife, Tere Lockhart, was sentenced to five years of probation for her part in the crime.

Crystal Lowery, 42, got 30 years for her part in the killing of realtor Beverly Carter. Lowery’s estranged husband, Arron Lewis, 34, was also charged in the murder. She is expected to testify against Lewis when his case comes to trial Tuesday.


Bernard Olds, 94, a founder of Sherwood, died in early February. Working as a rural postman, Olds circulated petition to incorporate Sherwood. He served as one of the city’s first aldermen, a firefighter and fought in World War II.

In a 2013 interview, Olds said, “I’ve really enjoyed life; really enjoyed helping people. I’ve had a good successful, wonderful life.”

Jacksonville patriarch T.P. White, 94, died in late August. White decided to make Jacksonville his home in 1946. He spent the rest of his life helping build the city. He was past president of the first booster club, Round-Up Club, Lions Club, Sertoma Club and the Employees Federal Credit Union. He served on the city council, worked to get water and sewer back to city ownership, chaired the commission to build the new jail and assisted the fire department in maintaining upgrades. In 1952, he helped start the Jacksonville Planning Commission. He served on it for 34 years, under five different mayors, and was chairman for 21 years.

Dr. Thomas Henry Wort-ham, 88, died in January. He worked as a physician well into his 80s, retiring in 2013 after a 60-year medical career, mostly in Jacksonville. “He loved what he did,” his daughter said.


Winter weather came in hot and heavy — actually cold and heavy throughout February.

Nearly an inch of ice hitting on Martin Luther King Day and then snow, ice and sleet a week later caused multiple traffic pileups, government and school cancellations, but was sledding fun for many of the kids in the area. Another winter dumping the first week of March dropped about six inches of snow and ice on the area. The snowy weather in February and March forced area schools to add five to seven days to their year because of weather closures.

A very wet spring delayed planting of area crops and put farmers in financial distress.

Then it was a hot, dry summer with very little rainfall in July, August and September, causing 61 of the state’s 75 counties to declare burn bans. A five-day rain event in October broke that dry spell.

In December, the issue was not snow, but rain, so much of it that it became one of the wettest on record. In late November and early December, the area saw more than 6 inches of rain. It saw about that much again in late December. A Christmas thunderstorm spawned tornadoes and flash flooding across a multi-state region.

Locally, most of Dupree Park was under so much water a boat was used to check on equipment and supplies a the concession building in the park.


In January, Master Sgt. Aaron Downing, with the 19th Security Forces Squadron at LRAFB, was awarded a Purple Heart for his actions and wounds he received when his convoy hit an IED in Iraq in 2007. Downing has had three more deployments since.

A Cabot eighth grader, Barrett Starks, fighting leukemia, becomes one of the faces for a Red Cross-sponsored Sleeves Up virtual blood and platelet drive. In remission, the teen still has two years of maintenance to go through.

It took about 73 years, but William Barnett, 92, finally received his war medals from World War II. U.S. Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.), in helping to get Barnett the medals, called the Army veteran a “true hero.”

Lonoke Police Officer Adrian Paige checking on an elderly woman found she was living without electricity because she couldn’t afford the bill. He raised $300 within hours to get the utilities turned back on. Lonoke interim police chief, Lt. Randy Mauk, authorized a stay for the woman and her son to spend a night in a local motel until the utilities were back on.

Former Army Pvt. Quinton Ezeagwula was one of two to receive Purple Hearts in a ceremony at the state Capitol in July. Ezeagwula was seriously injured in a drive-by terrorist shooting at the Little Rock recruiting center.

TOP STORY >> Effort starts for February millage hike

Leader senior staff writer

The Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District faithful, about 150 strong, turned out Tuesday for the launch of the effort to pass a 7.6-mill tax increase on Feb. 9 to fund the new district’s building program.

Part informational and part pep rally at the community center, Bishop James Bolden engaged them in a church-like call and response before passing the basket for donations.

“Ain’t no stopping us now,” he challenged. “Ain’t no stopping us now,” was the response.

Eldon Bock, a principal in WER Architects, said he had been impressed with “the singularity of voice” through the meetings he had attended, “like a church.”


An artist’s rendering of a possible front façade of the proposed new high school’s signature entrance on Main Street was revealed. Bock warned that the final building would be different.

It will have a striking exposure to Hwy. 67/167, Bock said.

Bock said it was too early to know exactly how the school would be configured, that it wasn’t useful to make those decisions until everyone knew if the millage increase passed.

“The majority of our work starts when the millage passes,” said Bock. “We’ll design something unique and special for you community.”

“You’re going in a great direction,” he said.

A rough layout shows the classroom buildings near Main Street, along with the cafeteria and kitchen.

It also included an auditorium, gymnasium, field house and space for the culinary arts and automotive components.

“It’s designed so that contractors can expand in the future without interfering with school,” he said.

“Forward, February 9,” is the campaign slogan, printed on material and yard signs.

People signed up to pass out literature and make phone calls.


Jacksonville Middle School Principal Mike Hudgeons became the first administrator or certified school-level employee hired by the Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District at the January meeting Monday night.

Hudgeons was hired to that position last year by Pulaski County Special School District, which continues to make schooling decisions for the new district through the end of this school year.

PCSSD Superintendent Jerry Guess and interim JNP Superintendent Bobby Lester concurred on his hiring last year. The state Board of Education had wanted consistency of leadership at the school for at least two years, because the middle school is in academic distress.

The board unanimously approved JNP Superintendent Tony Wood’s recommendation to hire Hudgeons.


Wood reported that court-appointed desegregation monitor Margie Powell had written to the judge to say that other than having no Plan B for improving facilities if the millage construction tax increase fails, JNP’s facilities master plan has “no negative effects…on Plan 2000.

That facilities plan calls for construction of a new Jacksonville high school, a new elementary school and multipurpose rooms for all elementary schools. The current North Pulaski High School will be converted into a middle school.

The hiring of seven more principals and, tentatively, 10 assistant principals should be done by February.


Wood said a number of central Arkansas people, including some current Jacksonville area principals, were among the 26 people who applied for principal positions, and than 35 for assistant principals.

Board members have been going through the language of the proposed board policies and handbook with a fine-tooth comb.

The board approved the section on board governance, including an ex-officio board seat for the commander of the 19th Support Group at Little Rock Air Force Base.

The board authorized Wood to look into outsourcing food services and transportation services, which require state Education Department approval.

The unanimous vote was not to outsource those, but to investigate and get ready to send requests for proposals if the board later approves the idea.

Wood said the board needed to decide whether or not to go with a vendor no later than April, “and that’s cutting it really, really close.”

He said outsourcing is not Plan A, it’s just an option to explore.

The board needs to be looking at hiring certified personnel in March.

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot closes well at Zebra tourney

Leader sports editor

After a disappointing loss to Forrest City in the first round of the Zebra Invitational, the Cabot Panthers bounced back with a pair of wins to close their action at Pine Bluff High School over the winter break. Cabot beat defending tournament champion Clarendon 73-51 in a fast-pace game on Tuesday in the consolation bracket. On Wednesday, the Panthers successfully slowed the tempo and beat the long and athletic Central Tigers 43-30.

Cabot made 49 percent of its shots from the floor and went 20 of 29 at the free-throw line against Clarendon. The bigger Panthers utilized that size advantage against the Class 2A Lions, who return four of five starters from a team that won its first 33 games last year before being upset in the regionals and failing to make the state tournament.

Three frontcourt players led Cabot in scoring, with junior Matt Stanley leading the way with 20 points. Senior forward Garrett Rowe added 12 and Jared Dixon scored 11 for Cabot.

Cabot got its separation in the second quarter. After taking a 15-12 lead through one period, the Panthers exploded for 26 points in the second quarter and carried a 41-26 lead into halftime.

Shooting didn’t go well for either team on Wednesday. Cabot dominated the first half against its 7A conference foe. The Tigers, who were playing in their second holiday tournament after also competing in and winning the Red Devil Classic, couldn’t get the game into an up-and-down frenzy like it was able to do in wins over North Pulaski and Jacksonville.

Cabot broke Central’s press successfully and was able to score once it was broken. The press break resulted in several buckets near the basket, mostly by Rowe, who finished with a game-high 15 points.

Cabot took a 25-13 lead into halftime, but Central fell back into a zone defense in the second half and Cabot could not hit from outside and bust the zone.

The Tigers held the Panthers to four points in the third quarter, but weren’t hitting at a very high percentage either. Central slowly climbed back to within 29-22 by the end of the third, but as has become a norm for Cabot, the Panthers saved their best quarter for last.

Cabot scored 14 points in the fourth quarter while holding Central to eight. The Tigers tried to climb back into the game from outside, but shots weren’t falling for either team from 3-point range.

Central shot poorly from everywhere. The Tigers were a dismal 11 of 49 (22 percent) from the floor, including 0 for 15 from 3-point range. They also made just 8 of 16 free-throw attempts.

Cabot was also just 50 percent from the foul line (6 of 12) and didn’t shoot very well from the floor either. The Panthers were 18 of 58 overall (32 percent) and just 1 of 14 from 3-point range.

Cabot (9-3) opens conference play in the 7A/6A-East on Friday when it plays a critical road game at North Little Rock.

SPORTS STORY >> SH coaches not pleased with break

Leader sports editor

The Sylvan Hills boys’ and girls’ basketball teams took part in the Spa City Classic hosted by Hot Springs Lakeside at Summit Arena last week. The Lady Bears went 2-1 with wins over Lakeside and Jessieville and a loss to conference rival Pulaski Academy.

The boys also beat Lakeside, but lost their last two games to PA and Little Rock Christian Academy.

Lady Bears coach Shelley Davis has a young team and expects growing pains, but was disappointed in the nature of her team’s 56-39 loss to the Lady Bruins.

“They just cowed down,” said Davis on Monday. “Complaining, making excuses. It just surprised me. We’ve lost a few, but we went down fighting in those other ones. We didn’t this time. We’ve got to be tougher than that and we get a chance to be tougher right here to start (conference play).”

Sylvan Hills opened league play in the 5A-Central against the Lady Bruins on Tuesday.

The first and fourth quarters against PA were played evenly, but the Lady Bruins outscored Sylvan Hills by 17 in the second and third periods.

Pulaski Academy post player Morgan Wallace led all players with 28 points while Katie Swanson added 11 and Mattie Hatcher 10 for the Lady Bruins.

Da’Bria Thompson led Sylvan Hills with 16 points while Raigen Thomas scored 14 in the second-round game.

The Lady Bears opened the tournament with a 57-26 blowout of the host team. A 23-4 second quarter was the difference in that game.

“One of their best players is a big tennis player and she was at a tennis thing somewhere,” Davis said of Lakeside. “I still think we would’ve beat them, but they struggled without her.”

Sophomore Alana Canady led Sylvan Hills with 16 points against Lakeside while Thompson added 15.

In the third-place game, the Lady Bears trailed Jessieville the entire game before a last-second shot by Canady gave Sylvan Hills its first lead and the win, 40-38. Canady led Sylvan Hills with 10 points while Jessieville’s Kellie Lampo scored 27 of her team’s 38 points.


The Sylvan Hills boys showed the bad side of its inconsistency so far this season at Hot Springs. Even in the win, boys’ coach Kevin Davis wasn’t pleased with his team’s performance.

“We didn’t show up for the PA game, and even in the win, you left there knowing we just didn’t play that well,” said Kevin Davis.

The Bears beat the Rams 59-37 before losing 71-53 to PA and 67-57 to LRCA. Tulsa signee Lawson Korita went off for 28 points for the Bruins, and hit five of the team’s 10 3-pointers.

“We’re a team that wants to pride itself on not giving up the three ball,” Davis said. “But we weren’t getting out defending and they were getting open shots. And of course we weren’t hitting anything, which made things worse.”

In the last game, the Bears led 17-14 after one quarter and only trailed 28-26 at halftime, but an 18-8 Warrior advantage in the third quarter was the difference.

“They’re a very much-improved team,” Davis said of LRCA. “They’ve got a big 6-foot-9 kid (Isiah Harper) and ole Fitz Hill’s son (Justice Hill) is running point for them and he makes them go. But they did not get our best game. We’ve got to be more consistent with our effort, and we have to make free throws. Missed free throws drive a coach crazy and we missed a bunch of them in that tournament.

“That’s particularly devastating to us because we have so many players who can get to the line. But when you get to the line and miss, that’s nothing more than a turnover.”

In the three games combined, Sylvan Hills went 31 of 60 from the free-throw line, with 13 of 23 against LRCA the best showing.

Look for details of Tuesday’s boys’ and girls’ conference doubleheader against PA in Saturday’s Leader.

SPORTS STORY >> Sports isn’t top priority for JHS star

Jacksonville senior Tatianna Lacy is a two-year starter in basketball and a track champion with remarkable focus and drive, but is also a kind-hearted bookworm.

Leader sports editor

There is something unique about Tatianna Lacy. It could almost be called shyness. Not exactly because what’s missing is a lack of ego that often comes with being one of the best athletes in school.

Tatianna Alee’ah Lacy, 17, of Jacksonville, is the daughter of Larry and Tamesha Cunningham. She has been one of the fastest sprinters in her age group since early youth, and has been the starting center for the Lady Red Devil basketball team the last two years.

Lacy is not shy, not even soft-spoken in the usual sense, though her speaking voice can be quiet at times, usually when her eyes drift far away as she scans the mind for just the right words to answer. But it was one of the very last things she said about herself that shines through the fastest when speaking in depth with her.

“I’m a loving person,” said Lacy, when asked at the end of our interview if there was anything else people should know about her.

It wasn’t said with a sense of urgency or a need for people to know it. It came through as an indictment of the interviewer, who had, amidst all the talk of athletic accolades, overlooked what’s most important to, and most obvious about the subject.

You might guess by her lean, 5-foot-10 frame that she’s an athlete, but you never would guess it through conversation. She likes to talk about books and family, her new job and other typical high school senior stuff at least as much as she talks about sports.

But that doesn’t mean she’s unable to focus when it’s time to hit the track or the court. Crystal Scott, who has been Lacy’s track coach the last two years, and is also the girls’ basketball coach this year, says having five players with the work ethic and dedication of Tatianna Lacy is a coach’s dream.

“That’s it,” said Scott. “She comes to work with no attitude or anything like that. It’s great to have that superstar player. But I think any coach loves having players like Tatianna.”

The Lady Red Devils have suffered a lot of attrition this season as Scott has laid down unwavering demands that were never established by the previous coach. Of the 15 on the varsity roster at the start of the season, nine remain as conference play begins. Lacy is the most decorated athlete of the group, but Scott likes what’s left.

“The nine that are still here are the ones that have proven they want to be here,” Scott said.

Lacy admits it’s been a huge adjustment from William Rountree her first two years of varsity basketball, to Scott, but sees benefit in the change.

“It’s way more demanding with coach Scott,” said Lacy. “Don’t get me wrong, I love coach Rountree and miss him, but I love coach Scott, too. She works us hard and demands more of us off the court as well. I think in the long run it’ll make us stronger.”

Lacy had an advantage for dealing with the new, more demanding basketball coach that other players perhaps didn’t have. She was used to a demanding coach.

Her dad played football for UA-Monticello and founded the AAU track program, Cunningham racing. Lacy has been running for him for many years. Her mother Tamesha was also a star track athlete in high school and earned a scholarship to Grambling State Not only does Lacy have to do all the work her high school coaches require, she also does the training at home required by dad.

While she loves basketball most, Lacy knows her best chance for a scholarship will be in track. She was the 5A-Central 200-meter dash champion last year, and finished second in the 100m.

Several colleges interested in her talents have contacted her. She’s already fully qualified academically, but she isn’t close to making a decision. That’s largely because she’s not confident about being on her own, and shows a surprising willingness to talk about her insecurities.

“I’m nervous about leaving home,” Lacy said. “I’m definitely going to do it. I want to be on my own, I’m just scared I don’t have the experience to do it right and take care of everything you have to be responsible for. But I’m going to do it.”