SPORTS >> Lonoke upsets Lady Panthers
Leader sports writer
Few people expected the Lady Jackrabbits to leave the Cabot gym with their unbeaten record still in- tact, nor did they expect the double-overtime war it took in order for them to actually do it. The Lonoke girls proved all doubters wrong Friday night, edging out the Lady Panthers 52-49 in one of the most exciting games of the early season. The win improves the Lady ‘Rabbits record to 11-0 on the season, and establishes them as a serious force heading into the heart of their 6AAA-conference schedule.
The game did not start out very exciting, as the opening quarter went scoreless for the first 2:11 until a pair of Maddie Helms free throws got Cabot on the board first. Both teams slugged through the first, as the game was tied 7-7 at the 1:50 mark. The score would remain that way until the buzzer, when Kim Sitzmann scored a lay up at the buzzer to put the Lady Panthers ahead by two.
The Lady ‘Rabbits continued to struggle in the second quarter, but Cabot picked things up. The Lady Panthers would extend their lead to six, leading 20-14 at the half.
Despite a slow first half, Lonoke came out swinging in the third quarter, outscoring Cabot 18-3, and taking over the game’s tempo. Calisha Kirk tied things up for the Lady ‘Rabbits at the 5:09 mark with a reverse lay up. Lonoke then went on a 10-point run for the remainder of the period that was only interrupted by a Rachel Glover free throw for Cabot. By the end of the third, the Lady Rabbits had taken a 32-23 lead and looked poised for the easy upset.
Things would not be as easy in the fourth quarter, as the Lady Panthers began to press hard defensively. Lonoke began to turn over the ball, and Cabot took advantage.
Sitzmann put the Lady Panthers back in the lead with two free throws at the 1:26 mark. Kristy Shinn did the same for the Lady ‘Rabbits 15 seconds later Glover hit a three pointer for Cabot to put them ahead 41-39 with 47 seconds remaining, but Meaghan Kellybrew hit two more free throws to tie the score once again.
Cabot had one last chance to claim the win in the final three seconds of regulation, but Helms’ three-point attempt fell short, and the two teams prepared for overtime.
The first overtime was less than thrilling, with each team scoring two points in the extra period.
The second overtime would make up for that and then some, as the shootout began.
Jenny Evans struck first for Lonoke with a jumper and free throw to put them ahead 46-43. Jamie Sterrenberg answered for Cabot with a three-point shot that tied things up once more.
A three pointer from Lindsey Watts put the Lady Panthers ahead by one, but Libby Gay put Lonoke back out front with a jumper in the final minute.
Cabot’s outside shooting had saved them all night, but the long ball finally ran out of air for the Lady Panthers. Two straight three-point attempts fell flat for Cabot, as Kirk extended Lonoke’s lead with more solid free-throw shooting under pressure.
Lauren Walker was Cabot’s last chance in the closing seconds, but her attempt at a three would also miss the mark, and the Lady ‘Rabbits began to celebrate their biggest win of the season.
“That’s a good high school basketball game,” Lonoke girls coach Nathan Morris said. “We got a win on the road in front of a big crowd. This is our first road game besides playing in tournaments and a conference game against Christian. This win is un-measurable in terms of what it will do for us.”
Calisha Kirk led Lonoke with 21 points, including nine of 10 free-throw attempts. Kirk also had 14 rebounds and three blocked shots.
Kim Sitzmann led Cabot with 12 points and eight rebounds.
The Lady Panthers have this week off for the holiday, but will start back Dec. 28 in the first round of the Harrison invitational basketball tournament.
The Lady Jackrabbits also have the week off, but will join Cabot at the Harrison tourney.