SPORTS >> Lady Rabbits win Bank
Leader sports editor
At 8 p.m. Saturday evening, the Lonoke girls basketball team may have felt more like it just completed a Greco Roman wrestling tournament rather than a basketball tournament. Either way, the Lady Rabbits took home the championship trophy from the Bank Classic at Searcy High School with a 33-32 victory over Mountain View in the title game.
The Lady Yellowjackets pushed, shoved, pulled, leaned bumped and elbowed the entire game, but the Lady Rabbits played through for the razor-thin win.
It was the second rough game Lonoke had played in the tournament, battling a similar style against Ozark in the semifinal round.
The Lady Hillbillies were just warmup for what Lonoke faced Saturday.
“That’s how they play,” Lonoke coach Nathan Morris said. “They aren’t very big so they play physically to try and make up for it. I think we did a pretty good job of doing what we do They took us out of sync a little bit, but we battled and we utilized our height advantage. We did a decent job.”
The win lifts the Lady Rabbits to 7-0 on the season as they head into conference play this week.
Mountain View led 8-7 at the end of the first quarter and 16-14 at halftime. Lonoke turned up its defensive intensity in the third and held MV to just one field goal. It came just 30 seconds into the quarter, and the Lady Jackets did not score another bucket until 6:10 left in the game.
Despite holding its opponent to just one free throw for over nine minutes, Lonoke was not able to pull away.
The Lady Rabbits led 25-19 at the end of the third, but couldn’t add to that by the time MV scored again.
With 1:34 left in the game, Jacket point guard Bethaney Turner got a steal and a layup to trim the margin to 32-30.
Lonoke’s Libby Gay then missed two free throws, and MV’s Morgan Knapp hit two free throws tie the game at 32-32 with 43 seconds to go.
Gay penetrated the lane for Lonoke and got an open look, but missed the layup. Mountain View returned the favor when Emily Cartwright missed a short jumper in the lane.
Gay got the rebound and got the ball to Meaghan Kelleybrew, who fouled driving to the basket with three seconds on the clock.
She hit the first and missed the second, and MV called timeout with 2.2 seconds showing.
The Lady Yellowjackets threw the ball all the way to halfcourt on the inbound play, and quickly called another timeout with 1.4 on the clock.
The eight tenths of a second that ticked off the clock drew the ire of Mountain View coach Gary Simmons, who felt it ran too long and let his feelings be known.
It was all for naught though.
Mountain View executed the play Simmons called in the timeout. The was designed to get Turner an open, mid-range shot. Turner came off two screens and was open, but let the pass slip through her hands and roll out of bounds as time expired.
Turner led all scorers with 13 points. Knapp added eight for Mountain View.
Jenny Evans led a balanced Lonoke attack with nine points.
Lonoke shot below 50 percent from the free throw line for the second consecutive game, hitting nine of 20 from the charity stripe.
MV made seven of 12.
The Lady Rabbits again dominated the boards, out-rebounding the Jackets 30-16.
Lonoke played Glen Rose in the conference opener last night after Leader deadlines. The Rabbit boys and girls will continue 6AAA play Friday on the road at Little Rock Christian Academy.