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.

SPORTS STORY >> Panthers mix it up for home contests

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Panthers and Lady Panthers took the floor at Panther Arena on Tuesday, albeit against different schools and with different results. The Lady Panthers rolled easily over the Mills Comets 71-26, while the boys suffered a 50-40 defeat to J.A. Fair.

For the Lady Panthers, it was the second win in as many days. The Cabot ladies went on the road on Monday and beat Searcy 64-40.

In that first win of the week, Cabot jumped out to an early lead, but never extended it or put the game out of reach until the fourth quarter. The Lady Panthers led 16-11 at the end of one period and 28-19 at halftime. Both teams scored 16 points in thethird quarter, but Cabot clamped down on defense while also turning in its best offensive period in the fourth. The Lady Panthers outscored Searcy 20-5 to set the final margin.

Senior Lesley Roberts was one of two Cabot players in double figures, and she had a phenomenal shooting night. She made 8 of 13 shot attempts, including 6 of 10 from 3-point range to finish with 22 points.

Post player Emily Belin added 10 points for Cabot (3-2). Izzy Arnold scored eight while Chloe Thompson and Brooklyn Stracener scored six apiece. Arnold also dished out nine assists.

LaTiana Floyd and Kamie Provence each scored 12 points for Searcy (1-2).

On Tuesday, the Lady Comets best quarter was the first one, and they still trailed 19-8 at the end of it. Cabot won the second quarter 17-6 to take a 36-14 lead into halftime. That was up to 56-20 by the end of the third, invoking the sportsmanship rule and the clock ran continuously in the fourth. Cabot still managed 15 more points.

Jasmine Ellison led Mills (1-3) with 11 points. Stracener led Cabot with 16 while Dejah Jimerson scored 14 and Belin again contributed 10.

Cabot finished with 16 steals and forced 25 turnovers.

The Cabot boys simply could not get shots to fall in the first half. The Panthers finished the game shooting 35 percent from the floor, but that was down around 20 percent in the first two quarters, and that resulted in just nine total points by halftime.

The deficit was still only nine, and Cabot posted 17 points in the third quarter, but the War Eagles got hot as well and managed to extend their lead to 40-26 by the start of the fourth quarter.

The Panthers (2-1) made a run, but the hole was too deep. Jalen Brown led Cabot with 14 points while Noah Allgood scored 12. It was the season opener for Fair, which was led by Deaveon Bankston’s 19 points. Jaylin Christopher added 14 for the Eagles.

The Cabot boys will play Subiaco Academy next Thursday in the first round of the Van Buren tournament, and have games scheduled for Friday and Saturday in Van Buren as well.

The Lady Panthers are off until facing McClellan in the first round of the Cabot Pre-Holiday Classic, which is not until Dec. 5.

SPORTS STORY >> Titans round up Billies at home

Leader sports editor

Jacksonville was without its head coach, but got its first win of the season Tuesday, beating Monticello 64-44 at JHS. Head coach Vic Joyner is out indefinitely. A trip to the hospital on Monday ended in an unscheduled surgery and an undetermined timeline for his return to courtside with the Titans.

His assistant coach, Brandon Weems, will take over the head coaching duties in the interim. He was pleased with how the team played, especially without its head coach, without a starting post player and still searching for that first win.

“They had a lot on their minds,” said Weems. “Obviously they were playing for Vic, and they also wanted to get that first win out of the way. That first one is always tough, especially down 0-2 and guys are starting to second-guess themselves. There were some things I thought we could’ve been a little better at executing, but for the most part they had a pretty good game.”

Junior 6-foot-5 post Joe Phillips tried to play after suffering a foot injury in the previous game, but wasn’t able to go full speed. His fellow post, senior Christian White, did a great job of picking up the slack.

“If I had to give an MVP for the game it would go to Christian,” Weems said. “They had a big bruiser, a big kid in the middle, real strong kid. Christian was able to battle with him and not get into foul trouble. That’s been his Achilles his whole career. But that big kid, he’d been giving other people a lot of trouble, but he didn’t Christian. He played like a man.”

It was a night for Jacksonville seniors. While White held his own inside, three other senior Titans led the team in scoring. Guard Antoine Davis finished with 14, including 10 in the first half. Jacksonville held the Billies to five points in the first quarter while building an 11-point lead, but that was down to 31-26 by halftime.

Senior guard Caleb Kendrick hit three 3-pointers and also posted 10 first-half points for Jacksonville. Monticello came out in the third quarter with the express purpose of keeping Kendrick from getting open, so classmate Braylon Hawkins picked up the slack. He scored all 10 of his points in the second half.

Jacksonville came out refocused defensively and again held Monticello to just five points in the third quarter.

“I just told them to relax and have fun,” Weems said. “Joyner did a great job of getting them prepared for that team before he got sick. I knew this was a team we should take care of, so I just wanted to them relax and not try to do too much. They did a pretty good job of that. I think it will help start building confidence.”


The Jacksonville ladies won their home opener on Tuesday, and it was their second win in three games. The Lady Titans went up and down the floor with Monticello, and came away with a 71-65 victory.

Jacksonville set the tone early with 22 points in the first quarter, with Tori Briggs and Shy Christopher combining for 18 of those points. Monticello trailed by eight at the end of one, but outscored Jacksonville 19-15 in the second period to pull to within 37-32 by halftime.

It got even closer in the third quarter, but Monticello never found an answer to Christopher, Jacksonville’s super sophomore. Though the lead was down to three at 54-51 by the start of the fourth quarter, Christopher closed the game with 13 points in the fourth, giving her a game high 36 total.

It was the third consecutive game that Christopher has scored at least 35 points. And that was despite making just 7 of 16 free throw attempts. Jacksonville (2-4) made just 13 of 27 as a team while Monticello (1-1) hit 16 of 28.

Briggs was the only other Lady Titan in double figures with 17 points.

Shania Smith led Monticello with 20 while Mairah Austin scored 15.

The Jacksonville boys and girls go back on the road on Tuesday to take on Pine Bluff High.

TOP STORY >> Beebe family busted for marijuana, guns

A Beebe family was arrested on Nov. 14 for allegedly selling marijuana and for gun violations.

Aaron Lee Carothers, Deanna Lynn Carothers and Vernon Lee Carothers were taken into custody at 903 April Lane in Beebe after Beebe police, State Police and White County sheriff’s deputies served a search warrant.

During the search, police found six plastic bags containing more than a pound of marijuana, an AR 15 rifle, a 22-caliber rifle, $897, a set of digital scales and other types of drug paraphernalia.

Aaron Lee Carothers was charged with simultaneous possession of drugs and a firearm, possession of a schedule VI drug with the purpose to deliver, maintaining a drug premises, possession of drugs and narcotics and two counts of possession of drug paraphernalia.

Vernon Lee Carothers was charged with possession of a schedule VI drug with purpose to deliver and maintaining a drug premise.

Deanna Lynn Carothers was charged with possession of a schedule VI drug with the purpose to deliver and maintaining a drug premise.

TOP STORY >> Wreaths of Honor at vets’ gravesites

Leader staff writer

The Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery Beautification Foundation is working to place Christmas wreaths at each of the 8,080 gravesites as part of the Wreaths of Honor program at the Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery in Sherwood, 1501 Maryland Ave.

Board member Cynde Maddox said, “We were able to purchase 6,000 faux wreaths for the discounted price of $1 each through the nonprofit Christmas Honors in Fort Smith. The cemetery foundation needs to raise $10,000 to purchase 2,000 faux wreaths for $5 at the store for all the graves. The wreaths can be stored and displayed for several years.”

A wreath-laying ceremony will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 16. At 2 p.m., a ceremony for live wreaths purchased through Wreaths Across America will be held. Live wreaths will be placed at the requested gravesite instead of artificial ones.

Last year, the Wreaths Across America committee raised $94,000 and placed a live wreath at 7,000 veterans’ grave sites. The wreaths cost $15, and $5 goes to a local organization such as Arkansas Run For the Fallen. This year, local organizations decided not to form a Wreaths Across America committee and raised $100,575 for live wreaths for all the gravesites at the Sherwood cemetery.

“Wreaths of Honor is not in competition with the Wreaths Across America program. We’re here to honor veterans and no veteran will be forgotten,” Maddox said.

The foundation received donations for wreaths from Nabolz Construction, Arkansas Federal Credit Union and Entergy. CompleteCare donated warehouse space to store the artificial wreaths.

Logistic Services transported the wreaths from Fort Smith to the cemetery.

State Rep. Karilyn Brown (R-Sherwood) said, “We are appreciative that people care, that they want to do something special. It is a small way to honor them.”

Donations can be sent to ASVCBF Wreaths of Honor, P.O. Box 6648, Sherwood, Ark. 72120. For more information, contact Cynde Maddox at 501-837-2162.

Wreaths Across America will participate with live wreath placement at 8,500 gravesites of the 22,000 veterans buried at Little Rock National Cemetery, as well as for all plots at Fayetteville National Cemetery and Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery at Birdeye (Cross County).

TOP STORY >> Improve Hwy. 107, residents ask

Leader senior staff writer

Focus should be on the continuation of Hwy. 107 widening, not a Hwy. 89 corridor connecting Cabot to Mayflower and Conway, said the few who commented at a Tuesday night town-hall meeting at the North Pulaski Community Center.

There’s no telling how many of the 30-some local residents came for the brownies and crime-watch portion of the regularly scheduled meeting, but those who spoke said they didn’t see much benefit to the proposed Hwy. 89 improvements being studied.

The study seeks to determine the need for and feasibility of a continuous state Hwy. 89 corridor, making it a key component of the regional arterial network, providing a continuous east-west corridor between I-40 and Hwy. 67, north of Camp Robinson.

Pulaski County Judge Barry Hyde, an avowed opponent of the Hwy. 89 plan, brought representatives of Metroplan, the Arkansas Transportation Department and Garver Engineers to the meeting.

“What are we going to accomplish?” asked resident Stoney McKeehan.

Hyde has said he doesn’t know of any rural north Pulaski County residents who favor any of the four similar paths being considered for an east-west corridor and that the primary beneficiaries would likely be residents of Faulkner and Lonoke counties.

Hyde has said Pulaski County could end up with a highway that the county judge doesn’t favor and the county doesn’t need.

Hyde said as a Pulaski County bypass, it would be disruptive of the neighborhoods, but “I can be outvoted.”

It makes sense for May-flower, Conway and Cabot and Hyde said, and if he were one of those mayors, he’d support the plan, but that it doesn’t make sense for unincorporated areas of Pulaski County and as such he doesn’t support it.

He said if a plan moves forward, it could result in a wider right-of-way.

Of the half-dozen residents who spoke, none spoke in favor of the Hwy. 89 project.

Hyde said that initially, all the Metroplan board, comprising Central Arkansas mayors and county judges, favored the idea except him, and that Jacksonville Mayor Gary Fletcher, an early proponent, has backed away in face of some concerns that a Coffelt Crossing component of the plan could interfere with Little Rock Air Force Base’s flight path.

Tommy Majors said he thought improving Hwy. 107 to Gravel Ridge and north of the air base was more of a priority.

“Widen Hwy. 107, that’s a nightmare,” said Gloria Mathis. “This ain’t gonna’ do any good.”

“The obvious project to me is to continue to improve Hwy. 107 to (the back gate of) the base,” Hyde said. “Sometimes traffic there is backed up half a mile.”

A partial solution would be to move the gate further in on the base, said transportation department engineer Virginia Porta. “It would create more storage.”

Metroplan deputy director Casey Covington said improving Hwy. 107 to the air base has been a regional priority.

“Your comments today are just as important as Jackson-ville and Conway residents’ comments,” said Covington. “It’s not too late.” He said comments would be accepted through Dec. 11.

Covington said the Hwy. 89 proposal came about after completing the Northbelt Freeway, on the long-range transportation plan as early as the 1950s, was finally scrapped as being too expensive.

Of the Hwy. 89 proposal, Covington asked, “Do you think it’s of benefit to you?”

“I don’t see this being a four-lane highway anytime soon,” he added.

Previous public meetings, part of the $200,000 Hwy. 89 corridor study, were held at Jacksonville and Conway, and Hyde wanted to hear from his constituents, whose lives might be impacted by a continuous, four-lane shot through their rural neighborhood.

“There’s not much awareness of the people most affected — you and your neighbors,” Hyde said.

Covington said the study, being conducted by Garver Engineers, couldn’t commit anything — it just provides a road map if Metroplan and transportation department to move forward if the idea is approved.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

SPORTS STORY >> Lighthouse Wolves forfeit four victories

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville Lighthouse Charter School boys’ basketball team will have to forfeit the first four wins of the season, and will be without two more players for the remainder of the year. That brings the total number of players JLC has lost to various eligibility rules to three since the start of basketball season.

Friday’s ruling concerned two transfers from Jacksonville High School. One player, Ke’Shawn McLennan, was ruled academically ineligible and another, Malik Smith, was ruled ineligible according to what’s known as the 365 rule.

Smith had enrolled at JHS at the beginning of the school year, and transferred to Lighthouse after one week. But according to Arkansas High School Activities Association, any transfer during the school year without a bona fide change of domicile is ineligible for one calendar year.

Smith has not played yet this year due to an injury, but McLennan had appeared in all four wins, and was the team’s second-leading scorer. He had a season-high 27 points against Dermott on Nov. 10.

Officials at JHS notified theAHSAA about the players’ ineligibility after the Dermott game. There was an apparent discrepancy between the transcript received by Lighthouse upon the student-athlete’s transfer, and the one JHS has on file from last year, according to one person familiar with JLCS basketball. But JLCS is out of school this week and no one was available for questions.

A few weeks earlier, Light-house lost Gerald Doakes, one of the nation’s top prospects for the class of 2020, to the 365 rule after Doakes had enrolled at NLRHS before coming back to Jacksonville Lighthouse. He has since transferred to Jacksonville High School, where he will be eligible to play next semester.

Since Doakes lives in the Jacksonville-North Pulaski Special School District, the 365 rule is not in effect for JHS.

The Wolves had a record of 4-2 when coach Kelvin Parker was informed of the ruling by the Arkansas High School Activities Association. The Wolves have since beaten Lisa Academy on Saturday at the North Little Rock High School Diabetes Awareness benefit, giving the team an official season record of 1-6.

Lighthouse has not played a conference game, so playoff seedings will not be affected by the forfeits.

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Bruins push past JHS girls

Leader sports editor

The only thing certain about the consolation game of the Heavenly Hoops Classic is that Pulaski Academy beat Jacksonville. The actual final score may never be known, but the official final was 69-57 Saturday morning at Mount Saint Mary Academy in Little Rock.

There were so many discrepancies throughout the game between the clock keeper, the official scorekeeper, the two teams’ bookkeepers and the media tally, that the actual final score may never be known, but there wasn’t 12 points worth of discrepancies, and the Lady Bruins did indeed pull out a hard-fought victory over Jacksonville.

Pulaski Academy made the first run of the game, and went from trailing 7-4 to leading 11-7 with 3:20 left in the first quarter. That lead grew to as much as 16-9, though most of the scorekeepers in attendance, including the scoreboard operator, had it 15-9. Jacksonville’s Deshundria Shockley then hit a baseline floater to cut it to a five-point game. She also hit apair of free throws after forcing another turnover.

Yet another Shockley steal led to a pair of potentially game-tying free throws by Brittney Eskridge, but she missed both attempts, got her own rebound and missed a contested shot to end the first quarter with the scoreboard showing 15-13. But later refiguring changed that score to 16-13.

With the scoreboard at the start of the second period still showing 15-13, Jacksonville forced a five-second inbound violation to begin the quarter. Shockley then hit a 3-pointer that appeared to give Jacksonville a 16-15 lead, but the points were not added to the scoreboard.

Eskridge and Shy Christopher then added baskets that were reflected on the scoreboard, and Pulaski Academy point guard Mattie Hatcher added a bucket, which made the scoreboard show the score to be 17-17.

However, both teams’ bookkeepers showed Jacksonville with a 20-17 lead since Shockley’s 3-pointer had never been posted to the scoreboard. That prompted Jacksonville coach Marian Kursh to ask for a halt to the action to get the score actual score correct.

Once things were settled, Shockley was given credit for her 3-pointer, but another missing point was found for Pulaski Academy as well, making the score 20-18 in favor of Jacksonville with five minutes left in the first half.

Shockley then added another baseline jumper for a four-point Jacksonville lead with 4:32 to play in the half, but somehow the scoreboard showed a basket being scored for both teams and another stoppage occurred.

Once that was cleared up, the scoreboard reflected the correct score, and Jacksonville led by four.

From that point, the Lady Titans turned the ball over on four-straight possessions, and PA closed the first half with a 9-2 run. The Lady Bruins took a 27-24 lead into the locker room at halftime.

Jacksonville (1-4) started the third quarter well, scoring the first five points and taking a two-point lead, but PA answered by doubling that run and scoring 10 in a row for a 37-29 advantage. With three minutes left in the third.

The lead remained eight points until Pulaski Academy’s Isis Woods penetrated the lane and got away with a forearm to Tori Briggs’ face. After knocking Briggs to the floor, Woods hit an open lay-in to send the Lady Bruins (2-1) into the fourth quarter holding a 46-36 lead.

Things broke down defensively for both teams and the fourth quarter became a layup contest with neither Jacksonville gaining ground, nor PA pulling away.

Christopher had her second-straight monster game, finishing with 36 points, including 16 in the fourth rapid-paced fourth quarter. She scored 35 in Thursday’s win over Mount Saint Mary.

Shockley turned in a solid performance as well, finishing with a balanced stat line of 11 points, six rebounds, five assists and four steals. Eskridge led the team in rebounding with eight while Briggs added a team high five steals.

Hatcher led Pulaski Academy with 29 points. Jazmene McMillian came off the bench to score 20 and Woods added 12. Jacksonville has one game next week before Thanksgiving break, hosting Monticello on Tuesday.

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot ladies can’t coax shots to fall

Leader sports editor

Even with way too many turnovers, too many missed free throws and an incredibly lopsided foul and free throw count, the main culprit in Cabot’s 54-39 loss to Star City on Saturday was simply shooting percentage.

The Lady Panthers played good defense and created lots of scoring opportunities, but couldn’t seem to finish, at least not until the fourth quarter after the game had all but been decided. The end result was a fourth-place finish in the Heavenly Hoops Classic at Mount St. Mary Academy in Little Rock.

“We just have to make those shots,” said Cabot assistant coach Jeremy Halbrook. “You saw there in the fourth quarter, when we finally started scoring consistently, how different the game looked. We just couldn’t make anything.”

The Lady Panthers struggled mightily to score the basketball through most of three quarters. By the time they did begin to find their range, they trailed by 24 points late in the third period.

Cabot scored 27 of its 39 points from the 1:10 point of the third quarter to the end of the game. The Lady Panthers trailed 26-10 at halftime. After getting a defensive stop to startthe second half, Cabot executed its offense perfectly, and it resulted in a layup by Emily Belin off a backdoor pass by Hannah Chandler. But it wasn’t a sign of things to come.

That bucket came 25 seconds into the third quarter and made the score 26-12. Cabot’s next bucket came with 1:10 left in the third quarter, and made the score 37-14.

The game was back-and-forth the rest of the way. Though Cabot managed just 12 points up to that point, it scored 27 from that point forward, but a huge discrepancy in foul totals allowed Star City to maintain its lead predominantly from the free-throw line.

After a first half in which 16 fouls were called on Cabot and 13 on Star City, Cabot seemed to be the only team called for fouls in the third period. The third-quarter foul total was 12 on Cabot and three on Star City. The Lady Bulldogs were in the bonus three minutes into the second half, and in the double bonus with three minutes still to go in the third period.

“It’s really hard to get any sort of offensive rhythm going when there are so many whistles,” Halbrook said. “But I don’t want to say that was the cause of things. We’re still right there in this if we just make a few shots.”

The Cabot ladies made just 4 of their first 26 shot attempts until junior guard Dejah Jimerson scored with 1:10 left in the third. They made 10 of the last 17 attempts in the game.

Cabot (1-2) ended up making one more shot from the floor than did Star City, but free throws made the difference. Cabot shot 16 foul shots, and made just half of them. Star City hit 26 of 40 from the line.

Turnovers were a problem for both teams, but it was the third time in four games that Cabot has committed too many turnovers. Both teams finished Saturday’s game with 28.

Rebounds were also a deficiency for Cabot for the second-straight game. But unlike eStem Charter, who beat Cabot on Thursday, Star City did not enjoy a huge size advantage. Still, the Lady Bulldogs outrebounded Cabot 37-26.

Junior guard Izzy Arnold came off the bench to lead Cabot in scoring with 11 points. She scored 10 of those in the fourth quarter.

Hannah Ogilvie, who also came off the bench, added 10 points while Chloe Thompson came off the bench to contribute seven points and a team-high six rebounds. Belin had three points and six boards for Cabot.

Point guard Janiya Johnson led Star City (4-2) with 15 points. Center Anna Wynn added 11 points and a game high seven rebounds. Wynn went 0 for 3 from the floor, but made 8 of 8 free-throw attempts.

The Lady Panthers play twice more before the Thanksgiving break. They will be at Searcy on Monday, and then will host Mills University Studies on Tuesday. That game will be a twin feature. The Cabot boys also play at home Tuesday night against J.A. Fair.

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Bears take trophy

Special to The Leader

The Sylvan Hills Lady Bears won the championship Saturday at the Joe T. Robinson annual girls basketball tournament. The Lady Bears defeated the Caddo Hills Lady Indians by a score of 52-49 in the final. They had defeated Mills 73-27 in the opening round and Bald Knob 57-25 in the second. Bald Knob placed third in the tournament, defeating Conway Christian 51-43.

The Lady Indians (6-4) led by four at the end of the first period and by two at intermission, but Sylvan Hills (3-0) won the second half, outscoring Caddo Hills 17-12 to overcome the deficit and win the contest.

“I thought it was a good game,” said Sylvan Hills coach Shelley Davis. “I thought Caddo Hills played very hard. To have such little people, they missed no free throws the first half and maybe two threes. They were on fire. We struggled defending it, but I was proud of the team for coming back and eventually catching up. Our guards played well. They did a great job, but it bounced in our favor in the end. We had too many turnovers, and just missed opportunities. But, all this is right now a learning opportunity for them to get better, so hopefully they will.”

Lainie Ballard got the Lady Bears on the board first with a baseline 2-pointer plus one free throw. Gracie Wisener answered with a two for Caddo Hills, but Jayla Bell sank a 3-point basket to give Sylvan Hills a 6-2 advantage.

A three and a two gave the Lady Indians the 7-6 edge before Alana Canady hit a 2-pointer from the free throw line. The lead then changed hands three times before Wraylin Phillips connected on a three from the corner at the buzzer to give Caddo Hills the 14-10 lead at the end of the first period.

The Lady Bears scored 25 in the second frame to their opponents 23 to cut the lead to two at the half. Canady opened the quarter with a 3-point basket for Sylvan Hills, but the Lady Indians extended their lead to 21-14. Bell connected on a 3-pointer from the baseline on a baseline inbounds play for Sylvan Hills.

The teams traded back-and-forth, but since two of the Caddo Hills scores were 3-point baskets, the lead grew to eight.

Two consecutive turnovers by the Lady Indians and 3-pointers by Ballard and Olivia Wilkins brought the Lady Bears to within one. Two free throws by Caddo Hills stretched the lead back to three, but Ballard tied the score at 35-35 with her second three.

The Lady Indians scored once more to take the 2-point halftime advantage.

Sylvan Hills cut into the lead by another point in the third period, outscoring the Lady Indians 9-8. Andrea Dolphin started the quarter with a layup, Ballard sank her third three and a pair of free throws, and KJ Johnson had a score under the basket. The score at the end of three quarters was 45-44.

The Lady Indians added a free throw for a 2-point edge to begin the fourth, but Canady tied the score with a layup following a Caddo Hills turnover.

Again, the Lady Indians went ahead by a free throw, and again Canady scored two, this time to give Sylvan Hills the lead. Canady then had a block to give her team the ball back, and Aaliyah Bynum scored under the basket.

Rachel Dumont responded for the last 2-point basket for the Lady Indians. After a Caddo Hills foul, Bell made the final 3-point spread with two free throws, and the final score was set at 52-49.

Ballard led Sylvan Hills in scoring with 16 points. Canady was next with 13, and then Bell with 10 points.

Taylor Allen led the Lady Indians with 10 points. Scoring was balanced as the next five scorers had 9, 8, 7, 6, and 5 points.

The Lady Bears were 9 of 13 from the free throw line, while Caddo Hills was 11 of 18. Sylvan Hills outrebounded the Lady Indians by one, while turning the ball over 12 times to 10 for Caddo Hills.

EDITORIAL >> Thanksgiving wishes to all

This Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, every one of us will have the God-given gift of 86,400 seconds to use as we choose.

Granted, a large portion of it will be idled away moaning, groaning, yelling and cheering at football players on the television screen and some of that time will disappear with us gobbling up turkey or ham with loads of sides and pies. And, of course, the obligatory nap.

But that will still give us plenty of time to say thank you to those near and dear and those far away that we may not even know personally.

Let’s start with the military. The men and women in Afghanistan and Middle Eastern countries defending our right to watch the Cowboys and Chargers go at it for three hours on a Thursday. Some of them may not get a turkey dinner of any kind and yet some of them may not even make it through the day.

To every current and former member of the Air Force, Army, Marines, Navy and Coast Guard – Thank you.

Close to home, a special thank you to the police, whose jobs unfortunately have become deadlier over the past few years, for protecting our streets, homes, property and us. Likewise, to the firefighters we don’t usually see unless there’s a fire or accident, and then we are so grateful for their presence, action and aid.

Let’s give thanks to the teachers who work hard to educate children in a world that offers very few rewards for the teachers, who often have to buy supplies for their students but don’t get to write off the expense on their tax returns.

To city officials for doing what they think is best for the city and accepting the criticism when the masses think they are wrong, and getting very little praise when it turns out they are right.

Very importantly, give thanks to mom and dad, whether they are with us or not, as they helped shape us into who we are today. Who doesn’t say something, do something or stand in a certain way, and go “oh my, that’s my mother coming out in me.” Thank you, mom and dad.

Be thankful for each other and for neighbors, friends and other family members. Be thankful for that weird uncle whose unique adventures are retold around the Thanksgiving table every year.

Be thankful for you…that you are alive to use these 86,400 seconds on Thanksgiving to reflect on where we’ve been, where we are and how we can be in the future.

Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving!

TOP STORY >> Furniture Store marks 30 years

Furniture owner Cyndi McElmurry purchased the company in 1999, when her father, Don Holt (right), retired after opening the business in Cabot in 1987. It is still a family-run business, with her husband, Keith, and their son, Chris (left), shown with his daughter, Caroline. The Furniture Store has 10 employees.

Leader staff writer

The Furniture Store in downtown Cabot is celebrating its 30th anniversary with special sales until the end of the year.

Owner Cyndi McElmurry purchased the company in 1999, when her father, Don Holt, retired after opening the business in 1987. It is still a family-run business, with her husband, Keith, and their son, Chris, working at the store with 10 employees.

The store at 111 S. Adams St. has expanded over the years to 20,000 square feet.

“The growth of Cabot and the surrounding areas has changed dramatically in 30 years. We have three generations now purchasing from us,” Cyndi McElmurry said.

Customers travel from Austin, Ward, Beebe, Jacksonville and farther away cities of Conway, Little Rock, Heber Springs and Batesville.

“I believe it’s by having a home-like atmosphere, personable. We’re involved with the community, supporting CabotFest and other events, civic organizations and sponsoring youth sports teams,” she said.

The Furniture Store has long-time employees whom customers have grown accustomed to seeing over the years — Jerri Wedimann, 23 years; Brent Walker, 19 years, and Joan Hill, 13 years.

“Chris is more involved with the younger customers. As a millennial, he is able to keep up with their trends. People change furniture more often,” Cyndi McElmurry said.

In the 1980s, water beds and TV armoire were popular. Now it is accent side drawers and adjustable beds, for a unconventional reason: The beds are not for medical necessities used by senior adults. Many millennials are buying them as a luxury item. The beds have USB ports, night lights and wireless controllers.

Floral prints, early American, Victorian and vinyl were stylish 30 years ago, but today is it rustic and contemporary.

The Furniture Store has a touch-screen kiosk to show customers furniture styles and options, although they still have catalogues to flip through.

The store carries popular furniture brands such as Ashley, Broyhill, Best, Hooker, Mayo, Riverside, Universal and others. In bedding, they have Serta and hometown manufacturer Dreamline.

“For the sale, we bought special purchases, while they last. For the holidays we have dining room and living room groups,” Cyndi McElmurry said.

The Furniture Store is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

TOP STORY >> Cypert to run again

Cabot Mayor Bill Cypert wants to be mayor one more time.

He announced Monday his intention to run for a third term in 2018, which he said would also be his final term.

No one else has announced, at this point, that they are running against him.

“It has been an honor and pleasure to serve the residents of this great city for the last seven years. Working as a team with residents, the city council, all of the city commissions, the Cabot Public School District and our partners, not only in the city and Lonoke County, but all of central Arkansas,” Cypert said, announcing his decision Monday.

He cited his record of achievements as one of the reasons for staying in office.

Cabot has a lot to offer, according to Cypert and “we want to tell that worldwide in partnership with the chamber and through a new city website to be implemented early next year.”

“We have made significant progress and put in motion a long-term strategic plan that will address infrastructure, reinvestment in city streets, highways in partnership with the Arkansas Department of Transportation, sidewalks, quality of life and community and economic development, as well as promoting beautification on U.S. Hwy. 67/167, Main Street and downtown. Cabot has a very bright future,” Cypert said.

He continued, “I have brought to the mayor’s office extensive experience as a senior executive in information technology and finance management in the private sector as well as, with my wife, owning several small businesses. Cabot in the last seven years has implemented major community-development projects on time and on-budget.”

In his announcement, Cypert also said that Cabot’s growth during his tenure has been a team effort.

“As a team, we will continue to provide proven leadership and progress you can trust,” the mayor said.

“We are now ready to put in motion a bold and aggressive partnership with the Cabot Chamber of Commerce for community development to provide strong leadership in business retention and new business development that will continue building rooftops and attracting retail to our community as well as jobs in larger business settings. Cabot is a healthy, growing, and prosperous community,” the mayor said.

Cypert and his wife, Betty, have been married for 52 years and have two children, both graduates of Cabot High School.

His grandson now attends the high school.

TOP STORY >> Holiday savings found locally

It’s that time of year again.

Friday happens to be Black Friday – the biggest shopping day of the year – followed by Small Business Saturday.

Local businesses are joining in the festivities with special holiday hours and marked-down sales.

The Furniture Store in Cabot will have 40 to 60 percent off storewide Saturday and Sunday, and Grandma’s Collectibles will offer sales on gifts, Christmas décor, jewelry and more. (See page 4A for a list of area businesses with Black Friday specials.)

Jacksonville will hold a special Small Business Saturday event, complete with prizes.

Crafton’s Furniture in Jacksonville and Searcy, along with many other local merchants, are also marking down prices for holiday shoppers.

Participants will pick up a passport and must make a purchase from four participating businesses and enjoy a meal from a participating restaurant to be eligible to win.

The passport will be stamped at each location and must be handed in or mailed to the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, 200 Dupree Drive by Dec. 7. Drawings for prizes will be held Dec. 11.

Prizes range from a candle from Double R Florist, a shirt and harmonica from Jacksonville Guitar Center and gift cards ranging from $20 to $100 from businesses such as Cabot Café and Cake Corner, Barnhill’s Steak and Buffet, Fuzzy’s Taco Shop, First Arkansas Bank and Trust and more.

See page 5A for a complete list of participating businesses, prizes and instructions.