Friday, March 04, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Red Devils’ teams win one of two

Leader sportswriter

The Jacksonville soccer teams had their first home game of the 2016 season Wednesday at Jan Crow Stadium against Jacksonville Lighthouse Charter School, and the Lady Red Devils picked up their first victory of the year with a 2-1 win over the Lady Wolves, while the boys’ game ended in a scoreless tie.

In the girls’ game, Jacksonville’s Kayla Reardon scored the game’s first goal about 10 minutes in, and the JHS girls took a 1-0 lead into halftime. The Lady Wolves tied it up with a goal about 15 minutes into the second half and the score remained tied at 1-1 until late in the game.

With just over five minutes left in the game, Jacksonville’s Lynzie VanBrocklin scored the go-ahead goal and the Lady Devils’ defense held JLCS scoreless the rest of the way, giving Jacksonville the win.

In the boys’ game, Jacksonville coach Donny Lantrip wasn’t pleased with his team’s offensive play, but he did like what he saw from his defenders.

“The girls played with a whole lot of heart,” said Lantrip. “They left everything out there on the field. I want my boys to get that way, too. It just seems like our boys, they want to dribble and be a little fancy instead of passing the ball.

“But our defense did exceptionally well – Kris Johnson, Levi Bailey, Ben Foshee and Stevie Eskridge. They held the fort down and locked it down for us. I’m very proud of them.”

The Jacksonville soccer teams played their first game of the 2016 season last Saturday at Vilonia, and saw mixed results in that one. The Red Devils handed the Eagles their first loss of the season with a 1-0 win, but the inexperienced Lady Red Devils lost their game against Vilonia 6-1.

At Vilonia, the Jacksonville boys (1-0-1) scored the game’s first and only goal early in the first half. That goal was scored by senior Illijah Carter on a penalty kick, and even though the Red Devils didn’t score again, they kept the ball on Vilonia’s end of the field for the majority of the game and played solid defense when the Eagles did manage to get the ball into Jacksonville territory.

Fatigue, however, became an issue for the Red Devils in the second half.

“We maintained possession and we made a few good runs,” Lantrip said of last Saturday’s game. “About midway in the second half we started getting sluggish a little bit and were not attacking the way we wanted them to, but it was the first game and they just got tired on us a little bit there.

“That’ll get better as the year goes on, but it was a good test for us and we wanted to know where we stood.”

The JHS boys’ and girls’ teams have had two months of practice to prepare for Saturday’s season opener, but one of Lantrip’s concerns leading up to the game was how well his teams were going to play together, with the addition of the North Pulaski players joining the Jacksonville teams.

“It was a big win for us,” Lantrip said. “I was really concerned about how we were going to gel with North Pulaski and Jacksonville combined, with the two programs combined as one, but we’ve come together and I’m proud of them. I’m looking forward to this season.”

Carter’s go-ahead penalty kick came about 15 minutes into the game, and was the result of him being fouled in the goalkeeper’s box. The Red Devils had other opportunities to score as the game progressed, but could never get that two-goal cushion.

“We had other opportunities to score, but we kicked it high and missed about three or four more scoring opportunities that we had late in the game,” Lantrip said. “But both of our boys’ keepers, they did great.”

Trenton Berry and John Hall were Jacksonville’s goalkeepers at Vilonia, and Lantrip also complimented the play of several other Red Devils, especially his seniors.

“Illijah Carter, RJ Moore, Stevie Eskridge – Stevie played well and held the defense down,” Lantrip said, “him and Ben Foshee. The senior boys really pulled through for us.”

In the girls’ game last Saturday, VanBrocklin scored the lone goal for the Lady Red Devils (1-1). Even though Vilonia won the girls’ game by five goals, Lantrip said the score could’ve been much worse had it not been for the play of goalie Reagan Tull.

“She did a great job,” Lantrip said of Tull. “I don’t know how bad it would’ve been if she hadn’t have been the goalie.”

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot girls ousted after first-round rally

Leader sportswriter

The Cabot girls gave top-ranked Conway quite a scare in the second round of the Class 7A state tournament Thursday at Panther Arena, but the Lady Wampus Cats survived the Lady Panthers’ fourth quarter rally and pulled away at the free-throw line late for a 55-48 victory.

Before Thursday, Cabot (20-12) played Conway (29-1) twice this season.

The Lady Wampus Cats won both November games – winning the first 57-48 and the second game at Panther Arena 65-42.

In that second regular-season game, Conway standout point guard and UCA signee Alexis Tolefree scored 45 points and the Lady Wampus Cats dominated, but Thursday’s state tournament game was a different story.

Tolefree still led all scorers with 20 points Thursday, but Cabot’s Josie Vanoss led the first-quarter scoring with six points, helping the Lady Panthers to a 14-8 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Conway responded with an 8-0 run to start the second quarter, taking a 16-14 lead over Cabot. The go-ahead basket was a Tolefree steal that led to a transition layup by the senior point guard, but Vanoss put the hosts back up with four free throws and point guard Leighton Taylor added another to give Cabot a 19-16 lead with 3:19 left in the first half.

The score was back and forth for the remainder of the half. With eight seconds remaining, Cabot junior guard Holly Allen made the rare bank 3-pointer from the corner to give the Lady Panthers a 26-25 lead, but Tolefree answered with a buzzer-beating three to end the half and give the Lady Wampus Cats a 28-26 lead.

Conway outscored Cabot 12-7 in the third quarter to lead 40-33 at the start of the fourth, and 41 seconds into the final eight minutes, Tolefree gave Conway a double-digit lead with a 3-pointer from the top of the key.

The Lady Wampus Cats led 45-35 with less than six minutes to play when Cabot began its comeback. A Taylor basket with 5:14 remaining sparked an 11-4 Lady Panther run, which cut the Conway lead to 49-46 with just over three minutes remaining. That run ended with a CoCo Calhoon 3-point play.

Cabot had a chance to tie the game shortly after. Allen put up a contested 3-pointer from the corner, but the ball bounced in and out. The Lady Panthers got the offensive rebound, but missed the second shot of the possession and Tolefree got the ball and was fouled with 51 seconds left.

Tolefree made both free throws to give Conway a 51-46 lead, and teammate Hailey Estes added two more free throws to up the Lady Wampus Cat lead to 53-46 with 33 tics to go.

“We just couldn’t score there,” said Cabot coach Carla Crowder. “We had some droughts in scoring. I thought our game plan was great. I thought the kids did a great job. We’ve got kids that fight and battle and I’m just really so proud of them.”

Calhoon added a pair of free throws on the next possession, but that was all the points Cabot scored the rest of the way. Estes added two more free throws with 18 seconds remaining, setting the final score.

Though the Cabot girls came up short in the end, they gave Conway the toughest test it’s had in quite some time.

“It’s been a while,” said Conway coach Ashley Nance of the last time her team faced such a challenge from the opposing team, “probably Van Buren. So I guess the first (game) of the second round of conference when we played Van Buren. So it’s been a while.”

Conway has yet to lose to an in-state team this season. Its only loss came against Plano West (Texas). Conway’s leading scorer still had a good scoring night Thursday, but finished almost seven points below her season average and Nance was complimentary of Cabot’s stifling defense, especially on her best player.

“They weren’t going to let her score that again,” Nance said of Tolefree’s 45 points scored on Cabot in late November. “I thought they did an unbelievable job of frustrating her. Unfortunately with Lex that’s the key.

“She’s our scorer. She averages almost 27 a game. I don’t know what she had tonight, but it certainly didn’t seem smooth. She was out of her rhythm. I know she did some good things at crucial times, but I think for us to be successful, it’s mainly our role players that come through in the end.”

Cabot finished Thursday’s game 16 of 34 from the floor for 47 percent. Conway was 17 of 46 from the floor for 37 percent. Neither team shot well from 3-point range. The Lady Panthers were 2 for 15 from beyond the arc and the Lady Wampus Cats were 5 for 24. Both teams made 16 of 21 shots from the free-throw line.

The Lady Panthers outrebounded the 7A-Central champs 26-18, but Conway had fewer turnovers, finishing with 11 to Cabot’s 21 committed. Fifteen of Cabot’s turnovers were Conway steals.

Other than Tolefree, Savannah Lowe and Fut’ra Banks scored in double figures for Conway. Lowe had 14 points and Banks had 11.

Vanoss led Cabot with 16 points and seven rebounds. Taylor and Calhoon had nine points each. Taylor also had six rebounds and four steals. Allen scored seven points. Anna Sullivan had four points and six boards. Rachel Allgood had three points.

Cabot got to Thursday’s quarterfinal round with a 48-40 come-from-behind victory over Springdale on Wednesday. The Lady Panthers trailed 34-26 at the end of the third quarter, but outscored the Lady Bulldogs 22-6 in the fourth quarter to advance to Thursday’s game against Conway.

Sullivan led all scorers Wednesday with 17 points. Allgood scored nine, Taylor had eight points, Vanoss scored seven, Allen had three points, and Calhoon and Haley Sobczak scored two points each.

Thursday’s game was the final one in a Lady Panther uniform for seniors Taylor, Allgood, Sullivan, Calhoon, Madi Nichols and Lily Sinclair.

“They’re a good bunch of kids,” Crowder said of her seniors. “They work extremely hard. They’re good people. They’re better people than they are players and they’re great. I love them all.”

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Badgers lose to Nettleton again

Leader sportswriter

HOT SPRINGS – The Beebe girls’ season ended Friday afternoon in the quarterfinals of the Class 5A state tournament with a narrow 34-32 loss to East No. 3 seed Nettleton.

Nettleton, who beat 51-43 in November, led almost the entire game, but Beebe (23-6) took a brief lead in the fourth quarter. Beebe trailed 29-25 at the end of the third quarter, but Lady Badger center Gracie Anders scored 35 seconds into the fourth quarter and point guard Taylor McGraw added a corner three to give Beebe a 30-29 lead with 6:47 remaining.

Nettleton called timeout after McGraw’s three, and Lady Raider forward Dasia Young got a 3-point play after the timeout, which put Nettleton back up 32-30.

The Lady Raiders (27-3) pushed their lead to 34-30 shortly after, and Anders scored inside the paint with just over four minutes left, which ended up setting the final score.

Beebe had a chance to tie or take the lead on its next-to-last possession, but couldn’t score. Nettleton’s Javia Wilson was fouled with less than 10 seconds to play. She missed the front end of a 1-and-1.

Anders got the rebound, passed to McGraw at half court and McGraw passed across the court to fellow senior Kassidy Elam. She attempted a contested three as time wound down, but the shot hit the front of the rim and time expired as Elam chased down the rebound.

Both teams struggled out of the gate with their shot. Nettleton made 7 of 22 shots in the first half, while the Lady Badgers made just 5 of 23, including 2 of 10 from 3-point range.

The Lady Raiders led 7-4 at the end of the first quarter and 22-15 at halftime.

Beebe made 7 of 23 shots in the second half, but continued to struggle from the perimeter, making 2 of 11 attempts from downtown. Nettleton finished the game 0 for 3 from 3-point range.

“We had a couple go in and out,” said Beebe coach Greg Richey. “I don’t know that Nettleton even made a three the whole game, and they’re a 3-point shooting team also. It came down to grinding it out and we came up two points short on the grind, but I’m proud of them.”

Anders led all players with 11 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks. Elam added eight points, six assists and three steals. Mya Love and Young led Nettleton with 10 points each.

SPORTS STORY >> Hillside ladies strong in loss

Leader sports staff

HOT SPRINGS – Sylvan Hills began the Class 5A state tournament with a 64-52 win over Little Rock Christian Academy in the first round on Thursday, and led No. 1 East seed Batesville by two at halftime of Friday’s quarterfinal round, but the Lady Pioneers dominated the second half en route to a 75-45 win.

Senior guard Da’Bria Thompson had an excellent first half for the Lady Bears. She scored 14 of the Lady Bears’ first 16 points. Batesville (25-3) led 15-11 at the end of the first quarter, but Sylvan Hills (18-8) opened the second quarter with a 10-0 run to lead 21-15.

Batesville battled back and kept the score close the rest of the half, but the Lady Bears took a 31-29 lead into halftime. The second half was a completely different ballgame.

The Lady Pioneers turned up the pressure defensively and capitalized on several Sylvan Hills turnovers. The Lady Bears had eight turnovers in the third quarter alone, while Batesville had four the entire second half.

Batesville’s Hannah Qualls scored the first six Lady Pioneer points of the third quarter, with the third bucket giving Batesville a 35-34 lead. With 1:41 remaining in the quarter, Haley Cole drained a 3-pointer from the top of the key to up the Lady Pioneer lead to 46-37.

At the end of the third, Sylvan Hills trailed 47-40. The fourth quarter began with two quick baskets by Gracen Ratliff, which put the Lady Pioneers up 51-40. Batesville’s lead only grew from there and the Lady Pioneers set the 30-point margin with an Alley Edwards basket inside the paint on their final possession.

Thompson led SHHS with 18 points. Raigen Thomas added 14. Qualls led Batesville with 26 points. Ratliff scored 14 points and Cole finished with 11.

In Thursday’s win over Little Rock Christian Academy, the Lady Bears struggled early with turnovers, and went through brief streaks of turnovers throughout the contest, but they dominated rebounds and handled the Lady Warriors’ pressure well enough to get many open shots in the lane.

“I think we still have some maturity issues,” said Sylvan Hills coach Shelley Davis. “We’re still a very young team. But at the same time, I think we’re seeing some maturity develop in front of our eyes. We came out pretty spastic and was throwing the ball away, but we didn’t completely lose it. They regained their composure out there and started implementing the game plan like we practiced.”

The inside game kept Sylvan Hills close in the second half. Forwards Alana Canady, Reighan Thomas and Jayla Bell combined for 16 of Sylvan Hills’ 20 first-half points.

The Lady Warriors fired early and often from long range, but those shots never fell consistently. Still, LRCA held a one-point lead at the break.

The second half belonged to Sylvan Hills’ senior point guard Da’Bria Thompson. She found that the key to beating the fullcourt man defense was with the dribble. The Warriors had trouble recovering once the press was broken, and Thompson got to the rim and the free-throw line frequently in the second half.

She scored 12 points in the third quarter, all from the floor. She added 14 more in the second quarter, including 10 from the foul line to finish with a game-high 29 points.

Sylvan Hills trailed 25-23 with 6:20 left in the third quarter, but went on a 15-3 run to take a 38-28 lead with 1:39 on the clock. Thompson scored the last seven of the run, but then committed back-to-back turnovers and LRCA scored five quick points to make it 38-33 with 21 second to go.

Thompson then hit a long 3-pointer for the last shot of the quarter that sent the Lady Bears into the fourth with an eight-point lead.

Thompson scored the first bucket of the fourth, and after a Canady steal, Bell put back a Thompson miss.

Sylvan Hills largest lead was 55-41 with three minutes remaining after Thomas got one of many Lady Bear offensive rebounds and put it back in.

Sylvan Hills outrebounded LRCA 40-24. Bell finished with a double-double, scoring 13 points and grabbing 16 rebounds. Thomas also scored 13 points for Sylvan Hills and had six rebounds. Canady finished with eight points, nine rebounds, four steals and three blocked shots.

Sylvan Hills went 20 of 54 from the floor, including 2 of 9 3-pointers, and was 22 of 32 form the foul line.

LRCA went 20 of 66 from the floor, but was just 6 of 28 from 3-point range and 6 of 10 from the free-throw line.

SPORTS STORY >> Panthers whip Springdale

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Panthers have been a second-half basketball team all season long, and it never came in handier than in their 55-51 win over Springdale in the quarterfinals of the Class 7A state tournament at Panther Arena. In front of a packed house on Friday, the Panthers overcame a terrible offensive start and an 11-point halftime deficit to avenge an earlier loss to the Bulldogs.

“The first time we played them, one thing I remember is they whipped us in every facet of the game,” said Cabot coach Jerry Bridges. “But hey, it’s state tournament play. One thing I talked to my guys about, bring your level of intensity up real high. First half I think it took us a little time to get to that level. Sometimes that bye is not what it’s cracked up to be. I was just glad we were at home in our home gym.”

Springdale led 29-18 at halftime, but Cabot dominated the third quarter when it extended its defense and began picking up the ball in the backcourt. At one point, Springdale turned the ball over on six-straight possessions as Cabot slowly climbed back into the game. The Bulldogs also let their frustration show, fouling hard after the last couple of turnovers, including one called flagrant foul and two others that could’ve been.

Cabot’s Hunter Southerland scored the first five points of the second half before the two teams traded 3-pointers that made the score 32-26.

Cabot’s Christian Weir came off the bench and forced the first of the six turnovers, and Springdale’s Kyler Mahar tackled Matt Stanley on the fast break.

Hunter Southerland made two free throws after the flagrant foul was called to pull Cabot to within four with 4:55 left in the third.

Bobby Joe Duncan then got a steal and layup for Cabot. Two more Springdale turnovers turned into a pair of 1 of 2 trips to the line for Cabot that tied the game at 32 with 2:48 left in the third quarter.

On Springdale’s next possession, Bulldog forward Towayne Bobo was called for shoving Garrett Rowe under the basket as the ball was being brought up the floor. On the ensuing possession, Jalen Brown was knocked to the ground by Mahar while penetrating toward the basket, and knocked down both free throws to give the Panthers their first lead of the game with 1:54 left in the third.

Right after the free throws, Brown got a steal and was fouled again, and again made both free throws for a four-point Cabot lead.

Springdale’s David Carachure broke the Cabot run with a layup in the halfcourt set, but Cabot scored the last six points of the quarter. Brown was knocked down again by Mahar, this time after drilling a 3-pointer that made it 39-34 with 45 seconds left. He missed the free throw, but Rowe got the rebound and Southerland hit another 3-pointer at the buzzer to finish off a 24-5 third-quarter and put the Panthers up 42-34 heading into the fourth.

“You have to make baskets to extend your defense,” Bridges said. “We had to do something to get us going. That’s not our character to extend our defense, but we had to do something just to try to get energy. When you’re down 11, we had to play a little faster and try to create more scoring opportunities.”

Springdale didn’t go away quietly. When Bulldog center Ishine McFarlane stepped out and nailed his third 3-pointer of the game, it pulled his team to within 51-49 with 1:12 remaining in the game.

Things got worse for Cabot when Brown missed two free throws with 38 seconds left, but Springdale made some crucial mistakes down the stretch. On the ensuing possession, Duncan sunk down to double up Ishine after an entry pass and stripped the ball away. He dived for it in the corner and got up dribbling. Instead of defending, several Springdale players let Duncan dribble past them as they argued for a traveling call. He passed to Logan Gilbertson who hit a layup with 16 seconds left.

Duncan fouled Carachure with 10 seconds to go and he made both free throws to make it 53-51, and Cabot called timeout. Then came Springdale’s next big mistake. As Cabot set up for the inbound play under the Springdale basket, the Bulldog defense completely lost Cabot’s Matt Stanley as he broke to the other end of the floor. Duncan threw a court-length pass over the defense and Stanley got a wide-open dunk with seven seconds left to set the final margin.

Southerland led all scorers with 17 points while Ishine led Springdale with 13.

Cabot plays tonight in the late semifinal game at 8:30 p.m. against the winner of last night’s late game between Fayetteville and Bryant.

EDIROTIAL >> Debate below the belt

We thought we had seen everything in the wildest presidential debates ever seen or heard. Then came the last two Republican debates and the great dispute over the size of the candidates’ sexual organs. Now we hope we never see the likes of them again.

The verbal battering, particularly among Donald Trump, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, had become so personal, brutal and crude that Senator Rubio decided he had to bring down the macho and swaggering Trump by questioning his manhood.

He asked Americans to look at Trump’s “small hands” and he insinuated, with a grin, that it was commonly known that this meant that another part of a man’s anatomy was equally small. In Thursday’s debate, fuller yet with slurs and taunts, Trump dismissed Rubio’s taunt and said Americans could rest assured that he was more than adequate.

Before he ran for president, Trump boasted about his romantic and sexual prowess.

On the popular television show “Morning Joe” the next day, one commentator said Rubio missed the perfect squelch at the debate: “Prove it!”

The country has not seen such vulgar depths in presidential campaigning since, well, since 1800.

Thomas Jefferson, who was campaigning against President John Adams, called the Federalist president “a hideous hermaphroditical character, which has neither the force and firmness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensitivity of a woman.”

Then there was the slightly more circumspect President Martin Van Buren, campaigning against the Whig William Henry Harrison, the hero of Tippecanoe, who called his challenger “a man who wore corsets, put cologne on his whiskers, and slept on French beds...” Voters chose the man who wore corsets.

Is there a high road in this salacious era or do we sink ever lower?

Ernie Dumas, the dean of Arkansas journalists, writes editorials for The Leader.

EDITORIAL >> Asa wins Primary

On the day after Arkansas’ historically early party primaries and election, Gov. Hutchinson sort of claimed victory. Although his name was not on the ballot, he said the election—at least the Republican segment of it—was indeed a referendum on Asa Hutchinson. He had performed the rare expedient of openly endorsing seven candidates for the legislature in his own party’s primary, which we do not recall having happened in modern times. He bragged that five of them won, including state Sen. Eddie Joe Williams (R-Cabot) and Sen. Jane English (R-North Little Rock).

Hutchinson agreed with assessments by newspaper columnists that even though he was not on the ballot, the election was critical to his political career and to the longterm success of his young administration. He thought it was equally important for the well-being of the state, for it showed that voters were willing to stand behind representatives who took a stand for what they thought was good for the state and their constituents.

We’d like to think so, too, but the election did not definitively answer the question. We will see next month, at two sessions of the legislature, whether the election meaningfully affected the future of the great expansion of Medicaid to nearly 300,000 Arkansans. Gov. Hutchinson hoped that the election of the five candidates he endorsed against Republican opponents heavily financed by outside groups opposing the Medicaid expansion sent a strong message to wavering legislators and their constituents that continuing the program was vital to the stability of the state government and its budget and to the general well-being of the people. He hoped other legislators got the message that they, too, would not pay a price if they stood their ground and voted to continue a slightly tweaked version of the so-called “private option” and appropriated the money for it.

This has been the key to the governor’s early success, just as it was the key to the late success of his predecessor, Mike Beebe, who managed to finagle a three-fourths majority of both houses of the legislature, twice, to appropriate money to fund the program. It was hard for both men, but especially for Hutchinson, because it was viewed, rightly, as a key feature of Obamacare, the still highly unpopular health-insurance reform adopted by Congress six years ago. Republicans everywhere, no more stridently than in Arkansas, ran against President Obama and his signature achievement, the health law to which enemies attached the sobriquet “Obamacare.”

Whether Hutchinson would have pushed the implementation of Medicaid for working poor men and women at the outset he has never said. But once it was implemented, with its massive tax savings for the state and its tremendous stimulation of the Arkansas economy, Hutchinson inherited a situation he could not afford to sacrifice. For three straight years, the legislature enacted politically popular tax cuts because Obamacare flushed so much money into the state treasury that legislators figured that the budget could stand the tax cuts without cutting services.

If Medicaid is suddenly lost on July 1 or the end of the year, the state—the governor and legislature—will have to restore nearly $100 million a year in state funds for existing health care services, restore cuts made in institutional services at the state medical center and Arkansas Children’s Hospital because of the new federal insurance for the poor and figure out what to do for all the state’s community hospitals that would suddenly see reimbursement for their charitable services eliminated.

Tuesday’s election will not change the identity of the people who will be voting next month on the private option—make that “Arkansas Works,” the governor’s new name for the program. It was problematical before Tuesday that Hutchinson could get the votes to continue the program after this fiscal year ends, June 30. Hutchinson confided Wednesday that it was still problematical. “We’re not there yet,” he said.

Let’s hope the governor proves to be as sure-footed politically as we think he is. His problems are not easy to combat: ignorance and unyielding partisanship. People, including many lawmakers who have been through the hearings, do not understand the law and still believe the commercials and flyers from 2010 that said implementing the law would cost millions of jobs, wreck state budgets, enlarge federal budget deficits, and cause people to lose their insurance or be unable to choose their doctors or hospitals.

As the governor could tell them (don’t expect that much!), exactly the opposite has been true, especially here in the Bear State. But good luck anyway, governor.

TOP STORY >> Hottest winter since 1931-32

Leader staff writer

Winter is over with – at least, meteorologically speaking.

The National Weather Service lists the winter season as running from the first of December to the end of February and, according to their records, this winter was warm and snowy.

The seasonal high temperature was the warmest on record since the winter of 1931-32 and the fourth warmest on record. (Records for this area go back to the 1880s.) High temperatures often hit 70 degrees or better in early and mid-December, as well as in late January and throughout February. On Dec. 26, the high temperature hit a balmy 81 degrees, the warmest winter temperature the area has seen in five years.

The seasonal low temperature was the warmest in almost 20 years. Combined, it made this winter’s average temperature the sixth warmest on record.

There were 31 days, or a full month, with temperatures at or below freezing – the fewest in four years.

Snowfall was above average for the fourth winter in a row. But it wasn’t a spread-out event. All the winter’s snow fell in January with most coming Jan. 21-22 as the area got hit with around 6 inches of snow. It caused schools and government offices to close and traffic snarls.

Even though the weather service says winter is over, central Arkansas has been known to get March snowstorms. The latest freeze date on record for central Arkansas is March 19.

Along with the snow, the rainfall was above the average with 14.07 inches during the season, which is about 2 inches above the norm. The heaviest period of rain came Dec. 27-28, when the area received about 4.25 inches of rain.

TOP STORY >> Friends of Library sets goals

Leader staff writer

The Friends of the Cabot Public Library are working to support and improve the Cabot library with volunteers.

The nonprofit group formed when the new library opened last summer.

“We helped with the open house preview and the grand opening by meeting and greeting patrons and showing the library,” Friends of the Cabot Public Library president Helen Weir said.

The Friends of the Cabot Public Library has four fundraising goals.

One is to buy a 3D printer for the library. The Lonoke County Library System has a 3D printer that is shared monthly between Cabot, England, Lonoke and Carlisle branches.

“That is a lot of wear and tear moving it around,” Weir said.

A 3D printer that stayed in the Cabot library would cost $2,000. It would be used for group and individual training programs for all ages to increase awareness and opportunities with the technology.

“We would like to purchase another Krayon Kiosk for the children’s library,” said JoAnn Cooper, a Friends of the Library member.

A Krayon Kiosk is a computer station that has iPads preloaded with educational apps children can use with their parents in the room. The cost of an additional kiosk is $4,900.

“It is full when school is out,” Cooper said.

The group also wants to buy a microfilm digital scanner. It would allow the library to put local newspapers on microfilm so library patrons could search articles using keywords on the computer.

The Friends of the Cabot Public Library is also trying to get public support to hold a special election to increase the Lonoke County Library Millage from one-mills to two-mills. The one-mill rate was approved by voters in 1972 and has not increased in 44 years.

“This library could not have been built if the city of Cabot did not support it with the bond issue,” Cooper said.

The Friends of the Cabot Public Library is looking for new members. Its meetings are held at 9 a.m. on the second Tuesday of the month at the Cabot library.

Annual membership dues are $10 for individuals, $20 for a family membership, $35 for a benefactor, $250 for a corporate membership and $250 for an individual lifetime membership.

For more information, call Leisa Horness at the library’s genealogical department at 855-572-6657.

Friends of the Cabot Public Library also operates the Friendly Bookstore inside the library. The bookstore sells new and used hardback and paperback books and magazines that are donated. Hardbacks cost $1, paperbacks are 25 cents and magazines are 10 cents.

The books range from inspirational, health, history to children and young adult.

“Children’s books go so quickly,” Cooper said.

Ellie Gundel, a Friends of the Library volunteer, said a couple hundred books are donated to the Friendly Bookstore every week.

Friends of the Cabot Public Library will be at selling used books at a booth during the Cabot Strawberry Festival on April 23.

TOP STORY >> Cabot judge runoff Nov. 8

Leader staff writer

Ward City Attorney Clint McGue and incumbent Joseph (Joe) O’Bryan will face off once again for Lonoke County District Judge-Northern Division judge in a runoff set to coincide with the Nov. 8 general election.

McGue came out on top in Tuesday’s primary with 4,104 votes, but the 38.83 percent was short of the over 50 percent needed to avoid a runoff.

O’Bryan came in second with 3,608 votes, or 34.13 percent.

McGue said he was thrilled with Tuesday’s results and not surprised by the runoff because there were three good candidates for the position, including Cabot Attorney John Flynn, who fell short with 2,858 votes — 27.04 percent.

McGue also said he wants to maintain momentum and would ramp up his campaign again at the end of this summer. He added that he hopes voters remember this nonpartisan contest and don’t get distracted by the partisan races in November.

O’Bryan also said he wasn’t surprised by the runoff, since there were three candidates.

He was taking down signs Friday but said they’d be back up in the fall.

“I’ve got a lot of work to do....We’re going to put our best foot forward,” O’Bryan told The Leader.

McGue said last month that he had been Ward’s city attorney for more than 20 years, spending a lot of that time in municipal court, and then district court.

He called seeking the seat a “natural progression” and a “civic calling.”

McGue also said then, “Ideally, (I’d like) to make it so district court isn’t frightening for anyone,” since it’s usually their first point of contact in the court system. He believes a good judge has the right mindset and attitude, being “even-headed and fair, and tough and compassionate at the same time.”

McGue, told The Leader previously that, as judge, he would also make sure everyone feels they’ve had an opportunity to say what they want.

He graduated from the Chicago-Kent College of Law.

McGue’s experience includes working for the Arkansas Attorney General Office’s civil division, being Allport city judge, serving as a prosecuting attorney in Ward and operating his own firm.

He is a member of the American Bar Association, Arkansas Bar Association, Lonoke County Bar Association, Arkansas City Attorney Association, International Municipal Lawyers Association, Arkansas Trial Lawyers Association, Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission, Cabot Housing Authority board and Advisory Board of Community Bank of Cabot.

McGue is also a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer.

Last month, O’Bryan said he’d like to continue presiding over the Cabot, Ward and Austin district courts because, “I enjoy it. I think I do a great job. I don’t know if other people think so or not. I think they do. I believe they do believe that.”

The cards O’Bryan passed out before the primary said he has more than 35 years of experience presiding over juvenile, small claims, municipal and district courts.

O’Bryan also promised, on the card, to obey the U.S. and state Constitutions; follow the law, not make it; and continue treating defendants with dignity and respect.

It states, if re-elected, he would institute a program to collect unpaid fines that are more than one year old, continue programs for domestic violence victims and supervised probation, and remain fair and impartial.

About how he approaches his job, O’Bryan said then, “Always listen to both sides is what you’ve got to do. Not everybody does that. It’s not easy to do.”

The judge was arrested in August for third-degree domestic battery, but special, appointed Faulkner County District Court Judge David Reynolds dismissed the case in early November.

Wednesday, March 02, 2016




Donald Trump................122,420

Ted Cruz.........................113,601

Marco Rubio......................94,346

Ben Carson.......................21,350

John Kasich......................14,307

Hillary Clinton..................133,479

Bernie Sanders..................59,346


John Boozman (R)............271,488

Curtis Coleman (R).............84,648


French Hill (R)....................82,645

Brock Olree (R)...................15,091



Eddie Joe Williams (R)..........6,881

R.D. Hopper (R)....................5,655


Jane English (R)....................5,714

Donnie Copeland (R)............5,422  


Victoria Leigh (D).....................1,347

Kent Walker (D)........................1,250



Rita Bailey..............................37,615

David Johnson......................33,187


Clint McGue..............................3,989

Joseph (Joe) O’Bryan...............3,512

John Flynn................................2,784



Dan Kemp..........................302,876

Courtney Goodson..............218,239


Shawn A. Womack.................343,651

Clark W. Mason......................165,581



Douglas E. Warner....................2,672

Damon Bivins.............................1,829



Doug Erwin (R)........................7,137

Richard Kyzer (R)....................2,083

Fred  D. Clement Jr. (R)............1,746


John Staley (R)..........................9,048

Steve Finch (R).........................2,255


Dawn Porterfield (R)..................7,088

Courtney Ruble (R)....................3,848


Eddie Pennington (R).................4,020

Kenny Fraley (R)........................2,947

Carla Horton (R)..........................3,459



Brent Canon (R).............................512

Jesse Bear (R)................................170

Brent Canon (R).............................318


Claud E. Irvin (R)............................416

John D. Howard (R).......................320

Gregory Gibson (R).........................168


Robert Gilliam (R)..........................979

Adam Justice (R)............................492 


Linda Waddell (R)...........................340

Les Carpenter (R)...........................256

DIST. 13

Bob Morris (R)................................381

Daniel Hayes (R)...........................188

Kenny Ridgeway (R)......................256



Chris Bulice (R).................................136

Chris A. Waters (R)..........................128


Tony Southerland (R).....................139

Shay Cornwell (R)...........................72


David C. Hankins (R)......................55

Stephen Wright (R)..........................26

TOP STORY >> Leader’s 30th year

The Leader is starting its 30th year this week. The award-winning newspaper was launched 29 years ago with the March 4, 1987, issue.

“You’ve always put out a good newspaper,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson said last week.

One headline on the first front page: “Lester is optimistic on new busing plan, pushes millage hike.”

Bobby Lester was superintendent then of the Pulaski County Special School District and last year was interim superintendent of the new Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District.

We have covered local school news almost every week since then.

Our talented staff of reporters and photographers cover news, sports and events that matter to you.

When Jacksonville residents pushed for their own school district, we helped lead the way to make it happen.

When we called the Pulaski County Special School District dysfunctional, the state agreed and took over the troubled school district.

The Leader has covered Cabot’s growing school district from day one and told readers Cabot’s district would be a good model for its neighbors to follow. We have also covered growth in Ward, Austin, Beebe, Lonoke and surrounding communities.

We are a family-owned Arkansas newspaper that has helped build this community for 29 years. We will build on this tradition of journalism excellence for years to come.

The Leader has been locally owned and operated since the beginning. We live where you live. When you buy and advertise in The Leader, your money stays in our communities. We have the hometown advantage.

There are only a few family-owned newspapers left in Arkansas. Most are owned by out-of-state corporations with no other local connection.

We thank our readers and advertisers for making The Leader the biggest paid non-daily newspaper in Arkansas.

To subscribe for a year, send $18 to The Leader, 404 Graham Road, Jacksonville, Ark. 72076, or 105 N. 8th St., Cabot, Ark. 72203. Call 501-982-9421 or 501-941-5132 to subscribe with a credit card.

TOP STORY >> Lonoke County officials winners

Leader staff writer

In Tuesday’s primary election, area voters decided who would be their voice in city and county government, and who would preside over district and state court cases.

There will likely be a few runoffs for candidates in three-way races that did not garner more than 50 percent of the votes, according to unofficial results announced at 11:30 p.m. Tuesday. Votes in three precincts had not yet been counted.


All opposed candidates on the primary ballot in Lonoke County ran as Republicans.

Lonoke County Judge Doug Erwin was re-elected, beating out challengers Richard Kyzer and Fred D. (Skipper) Clement Jr.

Erwin said, “I want to thank all of the citizens of the county, and especially the ones that voted for me, for their support. We hope to continue the progress we’ve started in the county and are looking forward to the future.”

Incumbent Dawn Porterfield also defeated her opponent, Courtney Ruble, and remained county clerk.

Sheriff John Staley won re-election against Steve Finch.

Staley said, “It’s an awesome number. It shows the citizens of Lonoke County support what we’re doing and know we’re doing what’s right, not what’s easy, and we hold folks accountable for their actions. That’s what we’re elected to do and that’s what we’re going to continue doing...We’re doing something right.”

Karl E. (Eddie) Pennington, who dropped out of the coroner race because he took a new job that keeps him out of the county most of the time, still won the position. He defeated Carla Horton and Kenny Fraley. Election official Jim Bailey said there would likely be a runoff between those two.

The Dist. 1 justice of the peace winner was Brent Canon. He was only over the 50 percent mark by 12 votes. So, after the three precincts that weren’t reported by press time are announced, there could be a runoff.

Jesse Bear and Kevin Livengood lost the race.

Claud E. Irvin was elected to the Dist. 4 JP seat, but he was just shy of the required 50 percent to not be in a runoff. He beat out John D. Howard and Gregory Gibson.

Dist. 5 JP Adam Justice lost his re-election bid to Robert (Bobby) Gilliam.

In the Dist. 9, Linda Waddell came out ahead of Les Carpenter, but votes were being recounted when this paper went to press.

Bob Morris, not Daniel Hayes or Kenny Ridgeway, won the Dist. 13 seat on the Lonoke County Quorum Court. But he was a bit short of the 50 percent and will likely be in a runoff.


Chris Bulice, not Chris A. Waters, won the York Township contest. Both ran as Republicans.

But that victory could be contested because Lonoke County Election Commissioner recently discovered maps are not drawn to reflect precincts as they relate to constable races.

The result was that only some of the registered voters in York Township were able to vote for constable on Tuesday.

The man who loses the election could sue, the commissioner told The Leader last week.

Competing for Gray Township were William Anthony (Tony) Southerland and Shay Cornwell, both Republicans. Voters chose Southerland.

The new Gumwood Town-ship constable is Republican David C. Hankins. He defeated Stephen Wright, another Republican.

The victor will face Democrat Eugene Beno Duke in November’s general election.


Democrat Lillie Ingram McMullen won out over Jason Christopher Smedley, another Democrat, in the Dist. 5 justice of the peace race.


Judge races were held at the same time as the primary and are nonpartisan contests.

Ward City Attorney Clint McGue defeated incumbent Joseph (Joe) O’Bryan in the Lonoke County District Judge-Northern Division race.

O’Bryan was arrested in August for third-degree domestic battery. Special, appointed Faulkner County District Court Judge David Reynolds dismissed his case.

McGue also beat Cabot Attorney John Flynn. But there will be a runoff.

Cammack Village and Wrightsville District Court Judge Rita Bailey defeated state Sen. David Johnson (D-Little Rock). She will preside over both the Jacksonville and Maumelle district courts.

The two courts will soon share a judge and have countywide jurisdiction because of a 2011 law aimed at lightening the caseload of circuit courts across the state. All of Pulaski County voted on the new judge.


Cabot had one city council race because Alderman Dallan Buchanan resigned Oct. 1 from representing Ward 2 in Position 1 to pursue a job in another city.

Douglas E. Warner defeated Damon Bivins.

Both were listed as Independents and competed in a special election that coincided with the primary.


Dates to know include March 22, which is when a runoff, if one is needed after the primary election, must be held. The voter registration deadline for that would be Feb. 22.

The general election and nonpartisan runoffs are Nov. 8. The voter registration deadline for that election is Oct. 10.

If a runoff is needed after the general election, it will be held Nov. 29. The voter registration deadline would be Oct. 31.

Voters must apply to register to vote one day before the actual deadline. Any deadline falling on a weekend or holiday will be extended to the next business day.

TOP STORY >> Clinton, Trump sweep state

Leader staff writer

District 34 Sen. Jane English (R-North Little Rock) squeaked by Rep. Donnie Copeland in the Republican primary and will face Democrat Joe Woodson in November.

The quarter of a percent sales tax to expand and improve the county’s bus service was strongly defeated Tuesday by 12,000 votes.

Along the presidential lines, it was Donald Trump, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz finishing one, two, three, with about a 4 percent gap between each.

Hillary Clinton easily defeated Bernie Sanders in her “home” state of Arkansas and Sanders did the same to Clinton in his “home” state of Vermont in the Super Tuesday primary.


Sen. Eddie Joe Williams (R-Cabot) will get another term after besting Lonoke County Justice of the Peace R.D. Hopper. Williams lost Pulaski County by about 100 votes, but won the other three counties his district represents. Williams will have no opposition in November.

Williams got 6,842 votes, or 55.3 percent to Hopper’s 5,531 votes, or 44.7 percent..

“I’m just humbled,” said Williams. “I kind of expected the race to be a little closer. We took the highroad. I think (Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s) en-dorsement was helpful.

Williams said this would be his last term, despite a new law that allows legislators to serve a total of 16 years. He said he had made a commitment to the people.

Hopper said he had no regrets. “I met a lot of great people and friends. (Voters) chose him, and I wish him well,” Hopper said.

Hopper said he will finish out his term as JP. “I don’t know what the future will bring. Time will tell,” he said.

English defeated Copeland, 51 percent to 49 percent, or by about 300 votes after some confusion earlier in the evening. According to the Pulaski County Election Commission, about 1,000 voters did not pick a candidate in this race.

Hutchinson backed both Williams and English.

The final, unofficial tally showed her winning 6,687 votes to 6,365. According to the Pulaski County Election Commission about 1,000 voters didn’t cast a ballot in the race.

There confusion occurred in Sherwood. According to the ballot totals posted on the door of the Jack Evans Senior Center in Sherwood, zero votes were cast in the English-Copeland race, leading to come concern, but Pulaski County Election Director Brian Poe said the center’s votes had been counted properly by the county and were part of the overall total.

Copeland said he started the election count down about 500 votes from early and absentee voting and made up about half of that, but that it looked as though voters had chosen English. She must now gear up for her November opponent.

In another very close race, Democrats Kent Walker and Victoria Leigh, both attorneys, battled for Copeland’s Dist. 38 seat, which includes the southern portion of Sherwood with Leigh coming out on top by fewer than 100 votes. “I’m absolutely thrilled. It was a great race. Now it’s eight long months before the general election where I hope the Democrat prevails,” she quipped.

Leigh, 28, a mother of two young girls, is running because she wants to make a difference. “It’s my first run for political office, but I think that’s a positive. I don’t owe anyone any favors,” she said.

She also sees her legal background as a “valuable” qualification for the representative position.

Leigh will face Carlton Wing, a Republican, in November.

In January 2017 the Jacksonville District Court and the Maumelle District Court will become one and have jurisdiction over all of Pulaski County.

Rita Bailey, currently the Wrightsville and Cammack Village judge, and former state Sen. David Johnson (D-Little Rock) battled for the position with Bailey winning the position. The judicial seat is nonpartisan, so party affiliation is not listed on the ballot. As winner of the primary, Bailey will be the judge for a four-year term.

“I’m elated, totally thrilled,” Bailey said when she found out she had won by about 4,000 votes. “It’s been an exciting race.”

The same law that combined Maumelle and Jacksonville also moved the Wrightsville-Cammack Village judgeship into a Little Rock, so Bailey would have been without a position in January. “I’m looking at this as a blessing and an opportunity to continue doing what I love,” she said.

Bailey, 51, ran on a platform of “experience, fairness and service” and believes the most important trait of a judge is to be “fair, open-minded and to follow the law.”

Two state Supreme Court positions were up for grabs in the primary vote and both received a lot of out-of-state attention. Both state Supreme Court Judge Courtney Goodson and Clark Mason were on the receiving end of negative ads from out-of-state groups and the ads appeared to work as both lost.

Judge Dan Kemp beat Goodson for the chief justice position 59 percent to 41 percent and Circuit Court Judge Shane Womack defeated Mason by a 2-1 margin for an open Supreme Court seat. Interestingly, Womack and Goodson went to law school together.


The bus system, once known as Central Arkansas Transit, now called Rock Region Metro asked for a quarter of a cent increase in sales tax.

“That’s just a quarter for every $100,” said Jarod Varner, the executive director for Rock Region Metro.

The bus group pitched the need for the tax to improve frequencies on important routes, add routes and custom services for Maumelle, Sherwood and Jacksonville.

With 100 percent of the county precinct report, 36,791 voted for that tax increase, but 48,841 voted against it.

John Hofheimer contributed to this report.

EDITORIAL >> Big winners on Tuesday

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump continued their march across the South on Super Tuesday toward to their parties’ nomination after also winning big recently in South Carolina. They easily won in Arkansas, while racking up impressive numbers in most of the contested races in a dozen states yesterday.

Super Tuesday primaries, held mostly in the South, has now set the stage for one of the strangest presidential contests in American history if indeed Clinton and Trump are their parties’ nominees this summer. A nasty presidential election awaits in November.

On Tuesday, the Republicans had 595 delegates up for grabs, or about half of the 1,237 needed for the nomination. The Democrats had 859 delegates at stake, more than a third of the 2,383 required for the nomination. Trump and Clinton grabbed the most delegates by far, putting them on the path toward capturing their parties’ nomination.

Trump overwhelmed the Republican field, winning at least 139 delegates Tuesday and a total of 257 so far. Clinton won delegates in almost every region, losing only in Sen. Bernie Sanders’ home state of Vermont, along with Minnesota, Colorado and Oklahoma. He picked up 189 delegates to Clinton’s 373. She leads overall with 508-295 delegates — plus she has 457 superdelegates against his 22 superdelegates.

Sanders peaked briefly and is unlikely to do well in many primary states in the future. Trump is also close to vanquishing his last two serious opponents.

Despite all the criticism about their alleged ethical lapses and other shortcomings, Clinton and Trump did at least as well as the polls predicted. Trump did especially well against his now-desperate opponents in the Republican primaries, virtually sweeping aside all challengers, some of whom might now be thinking about calling it quits and perhaps throwing their support behind the frontrunner.

Sanders will continue to challenge Clinton at least through March. Trump and Clinton should wrap up the nomination in April or May. The delegate count is overwhelmingly in Clinton’s and Trump’s favor.

Clinton will lead a united party, while Trump battles to win support from the Republican establishment. That will not be easy. The Republican presidential hopefuls who trail Trump could unite against him, but the odds are against Sen. Ted Cruz, who yesterday won only his home state of Texas and neighboring Oklahoma. Sen. Marco Rubio fared even worse: He won only in Minnesota and hopes to win his home state of Florida on March 15.

Trump said Tuesday night he looks forward to a long campaign against Clinton, who is well ahead in the polls against the billionaire businessman. Establishment Republicans could abandon Trump, who will have a hard time unifying his party after his insurgent candidacy surprised all the experts and alienated traditional Republicans from the party.

Most Republicans will reluctantly rally around Trump if he’s their nominee, although some GOP officials have threatened to bolt and back a third-party candidate or even endorse Clinton. Mitt Romney’s former chief of staff said he prefers Hillary over Trump, and it wouldn’t shock anyone if Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee, and Jeb Bush, who dropped out after a miserable showing in the primaries, both shun Trump in the fall campaign.

Clinton is certain to benefit from Republican infighting, not seen since 1964, when Barry Goldwater became the standard bearer and was swept away in a landslide against President Johnson. To be sure, the Republican Party bounced back four years later and ushered in the Reagan revolution. A Trump candidacy has put that legacy in jeopardy.

Sen. Eddie Joe Williams (R-Cabot) and Sen. Jane English (R-North Little Rock) beat back tea party candidates funded with loads of dark money, some of it traced to a northwest Arkansas millionaire. It was hard to tell what the motives were, other than to kill the Medicaid expansion and wreck the state’s budget, which would have ended the governor’s highway program, more funding for schools and countless other programs. Let us hope Gov. Asa Hutchinson retains his supermajority to continue these programs with help from English and Williams.

In January, the Jacksonville and the Maumelle District Courts will become one and have jurisdiction over all of Pulaski County. Rita Bailey, currently the Wrightsville and Cammack Village judge, and state Sen. David Johnson (D-Little Rock) battled for the position with Bailey easily winning the position. She will succeed Jacksonville District Judge Robert Batton, who is retiring after almost 40 years on the bench.

Millions of dollars from out of state also helped elect Dan Kemp chief justice of the state Supreme Court in a brutal race against Courtney Goodson. Shawn Womack was also elected to the Supreme Court over Clark Mason, again with the nastiest advertising in memory.

Congratulations to Lonoke County Sheriff John Staley, who was re-elected in a landslide. For Lonoke County District Court judge, Clint McGue leads longtime Judge Joe O’Bryan and John Flynn. There will be a runoff on Nov. 8.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Wolff lauded after final home game at UA

Special to The Leader

FAYETTEVILLE – Lone Arkansas senior Melissa Wolff, of Cabot, grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds in her farewell home game.

It took until 4:16 of the third quarter on their home floor for the Arkansas Razorbacks to finally lead the SEC’s last-place women’s basketball team. And it took Kelsey Brooks’ tie-breaking basket to make a lead permanent. But the Arkansas Razorbacks Women, behind junior Jessica Jackson of Jacksonville scoring 15 of her team-high 17 points in the second half while blocking three shots, finally defeated the Ole Miss Rebels, 60-49, in the regular SEC season finale for both teams Sunday afternoon at Walton Arena.

Arkansas coach Jimmy Dykes said once the Razorbacks seized the fourth-quarter lead they were determined to secure a margin sufficiently comfortable for Wolff to exit to an ovation, which she did with 19 seconds left.

“I want to thank all the fans for coming out and I had a really good group from home (Cabot) as well,” said Wolff, a four-year Razorback. “It really means a lot. This place and this team has meant so much to me.”

Dykes said Wolff, whom he inherited these last two years from preceding coach Tom Collen, “probably understands the importance of a Razorback jersey as much as any athlete on our campus to ever wear one. She has been a blessing to me. Who she is, she is a 4.0 student and a leader, has impacted me and this team and this state and she is a dad-gummed good basketball player with 700 points and 700 rebounds.”

Freshman guard Jordan Danberry of Conway, whose free throw gave Arkansas its first lead at 30-29 in the third quarter, scored 13 and Brooks tallied 12.

Arkansas goes into its Thursday game with the Tennessee Volunteers at the SEC Tournament in Jacksonville, Fla. 12-17 overall and 7-9 in the SEC.

The Rebels, losers of 10 consecutive SEC games, are 10-19 overall and 2-14 in the SEC before their 11th vs. 14th-seed SEC Tournament game Wednesday night, but led Arkansas 19-8 for the first quarter and 25-20 at half.

Despite Danberry closing the third quarter following a Jackson missed free throw with a putback and 39-31 lead closing a 15-2 run, Ole Miss tied it 44-44 with 5:10 left in the game before a Brooks basket and Wolff jumper moved Arkansas on a game-sealing 7-0 run.

Arkansas needed every one of Wolff’s 13 rebounds, given Ole Miss matched Arkansas on the boards, 45-45, despite the Rebels’ smaller size.

Rebounds tended to be long rebounds with Ole Miss misfiring 21 times on 27 treys while the Razorbacks going inside enabled them to attempt 40 free throws to Ole Miss’ six.

Arkansas only made 23 of the 40, but could afford the misses given Ole Miss scored but five free-throw points.

“The difference in the game, 40 to 6,” said Ole Miss coach Matt Insell. “Forty free throws to six free throws. And we are a driving team, obviously we shot some threes because they were playing zone but both teams are physical, so I can’t explain it (the free throw disparity). If A’Queen Hayes (the Ole Miss point guard fouling out in 21 minutes) doesn’t have to sit we score more than six points in the third quarter.”

Insell lauded Jackson, Wolff and Brooks.

Dykes admitted his Razorbacks “got off to a horrible start” but turned it around.

“Sometimes you have got to win games not playing well and we did today missing 17 free throws,” Dykes said. “But we were the more aggressive team and that’s why we got to the free-throw line more.”

Wolff was asked if she ever doubted her finale was not going to turn out victorious.

“I really didn’t,” Wolff said. “We started off slow, but I had faith. I never had a moment where I thought, ‘Oh, yikes, this might not end as I had hoped.’ Because I thought our girls fought really hard all the way to the end.”

A 2-2 score Sunday marked Arkansas’ first-half zenith. Arkansas trailed as much as 13 in the first-quarter, but closed to 19-8 and trailed 25-20 at intermission.

The Razorbacks about could have shot better blindfolded in the first half. They hit but 8 of 32 from the field, including 0 for 6 on threes and self-inflicted wounds at the first-half free-throw line, making but 4 of 12.
Ole Miss didn’t light it up either in the first half, just 10 of 34 from the field, firing 15 threes and only connecting three.

For the game, both teams could have stocked a brickyard. Arkansas shot 17 of 53 and only 3 of 12 threes and Ole Miss 19 of 68 with 6 of 27 threes.

Ole Miss’ Shendricka Sessom, 9 of 24 and just 1 for 9 on threes, led all scorers with 19 points while Rebels teammate Madinah Muhammad, 5 of 17 from the field with 2 of 9 treys, scored 14 points and Shequila Joseph scored 10.

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Panthers finish strong, ready for state

Leader sportswriter

The Cabot girls capped the regular season with their second victory this season over Searcy on Friday at Panther Arena, beating the Lady Lions in the 7A/6A-East finale 49-33.

Cabot (19-11, 8-6) set the tone from the start with its defense. The Lady Panthers’ 2-3 zone held Searcy (8-19, 2-12) to just two points in the first quarter, and those two points came at the free-throw line.

Searcy went 0 for 11 from the floor in the first eight minutes, while the Lady Panthers scored eight points, four by leading scorer Anna Sullivan, and forced five Searcy turnovers to lead 8-2 at the end of one.

Searcy managed four field goals in the second quarter, but the hosts had six made shots from the floor on 12 attempts, and their lead grew to double digits by halftime, with the score 25-13.

The Lady Panthers’ largest lead of the second quarter was 24-7. The 17-point lead came on a 3-pointer by Sullivan with 2:12 left in the half. Thirty-two seconds later, Sullivan made two free throws, but a Cabot lane violation on the second free throw made it 25-9 Cabot with 1:40 left in the half.

Searcy closed the first half with four unanswered points, setting the halftime margin. Searcy’s Arabriaun Mack and Allie Brown made the first two baskets of the third quarter, which cut the Cabot lead back to single digits, with the score 25-17.

Cabot, however, responded with three-straight baskets while forcing two Searcy turnovers in the process. The first basket was made by Sullivan, and the next two were steals and layups by Josie Vanoss and Leighton Taylor.

Taylor’s steal and transition layup made it 31-17 Cabot, and forced Searcy coach Michelle Birdsong to call timeout with six minutes left in the third. After the timeout, Sullivan scored the next five points on a pair of 2-point buckets and a free throw, and Vanoss sank a pair of free throws with 3:39 left in the period to give the Lady Panthers a 38-19 lead.

With 2:32 left in the quarter, junior center Haley Sobczak got a free throw that upped the hosts’ lead to 20, 39-19. At the end of the quarter, Cabot led 42-24.

Sullivan scored the first five points for Cabot in the fourth quarter. The first basket was a jumper from the free-throw line less than a minute into the period, and the next was a corner three with 4:50 to play, which gave Cabot a 47-26 cushion.

Searcy senior guard Keke Broadway scored the next points with a 3-point play at the 2:01 mark, but Sobczak got a putback with 1:30 remaining to up the Lady Panther lead back to 20, leading 49-29.

Ebonee Whitney added a free throw for Searcy before reserve guard Jessica Mitchell drained a three with 13 seconds remaining, setting the final score.

Cabot finished the game 18 of 46 from the floor for 39 percent. Searcy was 11 of 44 from the floor for 25 percent. From the free-throw line, the Lady Panthers made 9 of 12 attempts and the Lady Lions made 8 of 14 attempts. The hosts outrebounded Searcy 29-23.

Sullivan led all scorers Friday with 20 points. The senior also grabbed six rebounds and had four steals. Vanoss added 10 points for Cabot. Holly Allen scored eight points. Taylor had four points, Sobczak scored three, and CoCo Calhoon and Rachel Allgood scored two apiece.

Whitney led Searcy with eight points. Broadway and Brown added seven points each.

Cabot’s next game will be today at 1 p.m. in the first round of the Class 7A state tournament at Panther Arena. The Lady Panthers enter today’s state tournament as the No. 3 East seed. They’ll play West three seed Springdale. The winner of that game will play at 4 p.m. tomorrow against defending state champion Conway, the No. 1 Central seed.

SPORTS STORY >> BHS girls find way to win at 5A state

Leader sports editor

HOT SPRINGS – The No. 1 seeded Beebe Lady Badgers had to come from behind against fourth-seeded Greenbrier, but managed to pull off a 41-35 victory in the first round of the Class 5A state tournament on Tuesday.

The Lady Badgers struggled from the floor throughout the game, and only made nine field goals, but played tough defense and made just enough free throws down the stretch to secure the victory.

Beebe (23-7) missed its first 13 shots and didn’t make a basket until two seconds to go in the first quarter. Kassidy Elam got a steal to start a fast break with 10 seconds left, and finished the break after a pass from Gracie Anders to tie the game at 6-6.

The Lady Badgers continued to stifle Greenbrier in the second quarter while the offense was slightly more effective. Beebe began feeding the ball inside to Anders, who finished on three-straight possessions.

Libbie Hill hit a 3-pointer that put Beebe up 17-11 with 1:04 left in the half, and that’s the way the half ended.

The third quarter belonged to Greenbrier.

Lady Panther guard Kory Westerman, the team’s leading average scorer, went 0 for 11 from the floor in the first half, but hit 3 of 3 from 3-point range and scored 11 points in the third. Greenbrier’s 6-foot-3 center Grace Rice added two points and frustrated Anders underneath on defense.

The Lady Panthers outscored Beebe 16-6 in the third quarter and took a 27-23 lead into the final frame.

Beebe sophomore Katie Turner opened the fourth quarter with her second 3-pointer to pull Beebe to within one point, and the Lady Badgers followed the shot by showing full-court pressure for the first time in the game.

The Lady Panthers threw the ball away on two-straight possessions and lost it out of bounds on a third. The Lady Badgers took the lead with 6:01 to play on two free throws by Anders, but Greenbrier answered right back just 12 seconds later.

Turner scored with 5:35 left to give Beebe a 30-29 lead, and it never trailed again.

An Anders basket with 3:40 to play were the only points until the 1:34 mark when Hill hit both ends of a 1-and-1 that made it 34-29.

Greenbrier got back to within 36-34 with 50 seconds left and got the ball when Hill fouled out, but Turner came up with a big steal and Taylor McGraw hit both ends of a 1-and-1 to seal the Beebe win.

Anders led Beebe with 16 points and eight rebounds. Beebe will play at 1 p.m. Friday against today’s winner between Hot Springs and Nettleton.

SPORTS STORY >> Hornets sting JHS at state

Leader sports editor

HOT SPRINGS – In a fast-paced game that came down to making shots, be they from inside, outside or from the free throw line, Maumelle made the crucial ones and Jacksonville didn’t. The result was an 81-73 victory for the Hornets in the first round of the Class 5A state tournament Tuesday.

Jacksonville dominated rebounds and took 15 more shots than Maumelle, but couldn’t make them at critical points. The most telling statistic of the game was free-throw shooting. Jacksonville went 15 for 33, including 9 of 23 in the second half, while Maumelle hit 15 of 24, but made 12 of 14 in the second half.

Jacksonville jumped out to a 12-6 lead, but Maumelle (25-3) caught fire at that point and could hardly miss from anywhere. The Hornets hit 7 of 8 3-pointers from midway in the first quarter to midway in the second. They had 39 points and led by 16 just three minutes into the second quarter when Jacksonville began to climb back into the game.

The Red Devils (17-9) cut the margin to as little as two points three times in the second half, and had several possessions to tie or take the lead, but went 0 for 7 from the floor and 0-4 at the line when trailing by a single possession.

Jacksonville coach Vic Joyner had nothing but praise for his team after the game.

“They left everything they had on the floor,” said Joyner. “(Tyree) Appleby played sick. They were down the whole game and kept fighting. We weren’t supposed to win. It was a four seed against a one seed and they took the line and had a shot.

“I have no malice. I’m not hurting. I don’t have that numb feeling I usually have when we lose tournament games. I’m just proud of them for how hard they played. They made the city of Jacksonville proud today with their effort. We just didn’t make shots and they made them. That’s it,” Joyner said.

The Red Devils quickly erased a 47-36 halftime deficit and cut the margin to 50-48 early in the third. Maumelle answered with a 10-4 run to go back up 60-52.

Jacksonville’s last run came midway in the fourth quarter when a 3-point play by Dajuan Ridgeway pulled the Red Devils to within 63-61 with five minutes left. Jacksonville had two possessions to tie or take the lead, but missed a pair of free throws and four shots from the floor.

Maumelle’s Division I signee Shawn Williams hit all five of his 3-pointers in the first half, and the Hornets hit 10 of 23 from outside in the game. Williams finished with a game-high 31 points while Tremont Robinson added 25 for the Hornets, who were 28 of 56 from the floor.

Jacksonville outrebounded Maumelle 41-23 and forced 11 second-half turnovers, but could only make 27 of 71 shot attempts, and just 4 of 19 from 3-point range.

Appleby, a junior, led Jacksonville in scoring with 25 points, and added five steals, four assists and four rebounds.

Senior LaQuawn Smith scored 24 and pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds. Junior Ridgeway added 15 for Jacksonville.