SPORTS>> Rabbits drop two in semis of region
By RAY BENTON
Leader sports editor
The Lonoke boys and girls basketball teams didn’t fare as well as they would have liked last week at the Region 3 tournament in Clarksville, but both managed to qualify for the state tournament with first-round wins.
Lonoke beat Lamar in the first round, but lost twice afterwards and will take the region’s No. 4 seed in the state tournament. The Region 3 tournament consisted of the top four teams from the 5AAA and Lonoke’s 6AAA, and all four 6AAA members advanced to this week’s state tournament.
Pulaski Academy beat CAC in the semifinals and defeated Little Rock Christian Academy in the regional championship game to take the No. 1 seed.
CAC then beat Lonoke for the third time this year to take the No. 3 seed.
LRCA gets the two seed.
The Lady Rabbits hammered Dover 62-28 in the first round before also losing to CAC for the third time 66-58.
The Lonoke ladies, however, bounced back in the third-place game to defeat Clarksville 63-52 to take the No. 3 seed.
Pulaski Academy’s girls also got the No. 1 seed by beating the Lady Mustangs in the championship game.
The Clarksville girls are the only 5AAA team from either regional tournament to advance to state, and the 5AAA champions barely got by the 6AAA four seed Glen Rose 40-35 in the first round.
Lonoke girls coach Daryl Fimple said his team wasn’t very impressive in the win against Clarksville, but reasoned that most teams aren’t in third-place games.
“Third-place games are a lot like watching paint dry,” Fimple said. “Considering that the game was pretty meaningless, I thought we played with decent intensity. It actually turns out to help in the draw, so it’s good we got the win.”
Senior center Crystal Kirk led the Lady Rabbits in scoring with 20 points. Guards Leticia Mahomes scored 13 and Whitley Elam added 12.
The Lonoke ladies will play Dumas in the first round at 1 p.m. Thursday in Pine Bluff.
A win in that matchup will mean a likely date against Region 2 champion Rivercrest in the second round. “I’ll just be honest, if we can’t beat Dumas we don’t deserve to be there in the first place,” Fimple said.
“After that it gets really tough. Rivercrest is a very strong team and if you happen to get by them, you’re probably looking at PA again. We’re capable, but we’re going to have to avoid the lapses like we had against CAC Friday. We seem to come unglued for a couple of minutes in every big game. It’s usually late in the third quarter when it happens too. I don’t know what it is. I guess I’m going to have to do a better job of coaching late in the third quarter.”
The Lonoke boys played well in routing Lamar in the opening round in a hostile environment, but couldn’t pull things together against 6AAA district champion Little Rock Christian Academy, losing 46-34 and returning to the poor shooting that has plagued the team at times this season.
After falling to the Warriors in the semfinals, the Jackrabits turned in a lackluster performance in the third-place game and fell to Central Arkansas Christian Academy. The Jackrabbits are the only public school to advance to state out of the Region 3 tournament, but drew another private school for the first round of the state playoffs.
Lonoke faced Region 1 champion Subiaco Academy in the first round of play on Tuesday after Leader deadlines.
Subiaco Academy features a seven-foot center that sees the bulk of the action on offense.
Look for detailed coverage of that game and the rest of the Class AAA state tournament in Saturday’s edition of the Leader.
Other first-round games feature Fordyce taking on River-view, LRCA facing Farmington, Osceola squaring off with tournament host Pine Bluff Dollarway, Marianna-West Fork, Ashdown-CAC, Pulaski Academy–Warren and Gentry versus Highland.