Friday, November 24, 2017

SPORTS STORY >> Lonoke ladies rally past Cyclones

Leader sports editor

The Lonoke Lady Jackrabbits had a good pair of games before heading into the Thanksgiving Day break, while the Lonoke boys didn’t. The two teams went to Russellville for a nonconference affair on Monday, and then came back home for their respective home openers in a conference matchup with Joe T. Robinson.

The Lonoke girls won both games, coming from behind to beat Russellville 59-52, and then hammering Robinson 56-22 on Tuesday.

The boys lost Monday and Tuesday to fall to 0-3 on the season.

For the Lady Jackrabbits, Monday’s game didn’t start well. Lonoke missed their first seven shots, and didn’t score until halfway through the first quarter. By then the Lady Cyclones held a 9-0 lead. After Lonoke’s first bucket, Russellville scored the next five. A 3-pointer at the buzzer by Zee McCallister gave the home team a 14-2 lead going into the second period.

“We were getting shots, we just weren’t making anything,” said Lonoke coach Heath Swiney. “The other thing was, defensively we weren’t rebounding. I think the rebounding totals ended up fairly even, but a whole lot of theirs were offensive, and you can’t give up that many second-chance points.”

Both teams dealt with foul trouble, with 50 fouls being called during the game. The trouble for both teams cameon the inside. Lonoke post Hannah Moseley and Russellville post Anna Myers both had three fouls by the six minute mark of the second quarter.

Lonoke opened the period with a 6-2 run, and every point was on free throws. The Lady Jackrabbits then began a halfcourt press, and forced a backcourt violation. That set up a 3-pointer by Mia Brown that pulled Lonoke to within five points. Keiunna Walker then got a steal and a layup to make it 16-13 with 5:45 left in the second period, but Lonoke would get no closer until the second half.

The Lady Cyclones regrouped and took a 25-20 lead into to the locker room, but the third period belonged to the visiting team.

Mickenzie Williams started the second half with a short baseline jumper. She then got a steal and dished to Walker for a 3-pointer that tied the game with 6:16 on the clock.

Lonoke continued to get steals and force turnovers, but Myers was effective when Russellville handled the press and kept the game close.

Walker got a steal and was fouled with two minutes left in the third. Her free throws gave Lonoke a 39-33 lead. Myers then picked up her fourth foul 13 seconds later.

Lonoke took a 41-35 lead into the fourth period, and Aruis McClain sank a 3-pointer to start the fourth for a nine-point Lonoke lead.

The lead reached its largest at 52-40 when Williams got another steal and made two free throws with 3:23 left in the game.

Russellville, however, didn’t quit. The Cyclones got hot from outside and cut the margin to as little as 57-51 with 31 seconds to go. Lonoke then rushed a shot, but Russellville couldn’t capitalize, missing several shots before getting fouled after the third offensive rebound with nine seconds left.

“I liked that the girls didn’t let the bad start to bother them,” Swiney said. “We did a good job of not getting down and losing focus. But there’s still a lot we need to clean up. We have to stop all the second chance points, and we have to stop fouling when we get a lead like that. We just kept fouling.”

Walker finished with a game high 33 points, including 18 on 22 free-throw attempts. Lonoke was outstanding from the line, hitting 30 of 38 for the game. Brown added 11 for the Lady Jackrabbits. She was 3 for 7 from 3-point range.

McCallister led Russellville (0-2) with 12 points.

The Lady Jackrabbits improved to 3-1 overall and 2-0 in conference play with an easy 56-22 win over Robinson on Tuesday.

The Lonoke boys never seemed to get warmed up in Monday’s outing. Russellville (1-2) led 19-5 by the end of the first quarter and 30-10 at halftime. After the Jackrabbits scored the first four points of the second half, Russellville went on a 15-0 run to go up 45-14.

Lonoke closed the gap to 27 by the end of the third quarter to hold off the mercy rule, but Russellville reached that mark on a free throw that made it 59-29 with six minutes to go.

The Lonoke girls and boys will be back at the Gina Cox Center on Tuesday against Baptist Prep.