SPORTS >>Late three lifts Jackrabbits over Dogs
By RAY BENTON
Leader sports editor
The Lonoke Jackrabbits advanced to the finals of the Searcy Bank Classic Thursday with a dramatic win over the Morrilton Devil Dogs. Lonoke guard Bradley Spencer hit a three pointer with five seconds remaining, and a running jumper by Morrilton was too hard off the back of the iron, giving the Jackrabbits a 52-51 victory over the Devil Dogs.
“That was a good win for us,” Lonoke coach Wes Swift said of his team. “We’re young and we’re still making a lot of mistakes, but this is the kind you learn from. Winning at the last second like that against a good team like Morrilton is big for a young team.”
Spencer’s shot came off a pass from Tyrone Dobbins after a missed runner by Kylon Boyd was rebounded by Stanley Staggers. Staggers passed from inside out to Dobbins on the baseline, who found Spencer at the top of the key. Spencer wasn’t wide open for the shot, but took it anyway and drained it, nothing but net.
Morrilton immediately called timeout, but the clock ticked all the way down to two seconds showing. After a lengthy discussion, five seconds were put on the clock, and Morrilton inbounded the ball from under the Lonoke basket.
Sophomore point guard Josh Toney took the pass about 80 feet from the basket, and dribbled the length of the court. He got an open look at a running jumper from about 12 feet, but it banged off the back of the iron as time expired.
“We wanted to force them to throw it in the backcourt and we did that,” Swift said. “After that we wanted to force them up the sideline, but we made a mistake and gave him the lane up the middle of the court. He (Toney) did the rest. That kid can play and worked himself in position for a good shot. We were fortunate it didn’t go in.”
The game was back and forth with neither team taking much of a lead throughout the contest. Lonoke led at the end of every period, but trailed at some point in every quarter except the second.
Leading 16-14 in the second frame, the Jackrabbits went on a 7-0 run to take their biggest lead of the night at 23-14. Two steals by Amir Fleming on consecutive Morrilton possessions spurred the rally and forced Devil Dog coach Trent Tipton to call a timeout with 2:48 left in the half.
The timeout proved fruitful, as Morrilton scored the last six points of the half to go into intermission trailing by just three points. The Devil Dogs also scored the first five points of the second half to take their first lead since early in the first quarter at 25-23 with 6:54 left in the third.
From that point, the game was as tight as could be. Neither team led by more than two points until Morrilton took a three-point lead at 50-47 with 1:05 remaining in the game.
That came on a Toney layup, and he followed it with a steal and another layup attempt, but missed what could have been a game-clincher.
Instead, Lonoke got the ball, and dominated the boards to stay in the game. Shots weren’t falling, but the Jackrabbits were getting offensive rebounds and second chances.
Boyd went to the line and hit one of two to make it 50-48 with 45 seconds left.
Dobbins got a steal on the inbounds pass and was fouled going up. He also hit one of two to make it a one-point game. Staggers rebounded Dobbins’ second miss-ed free throw and passed to Spencer, who was called for a charge on his way to the basket.
The ’Rabbit defense stepped up again and forced another turnover on the inbounds pass when Toney stepped on the baseline. Lonoke called timeout with 32 seconds on the clock. The play called in the timeout created an open shot, but Spencer missed it. Boyd got the rebound, but missed his putback attempt. The subsequent scramble for the rebound went out of bounds of the Jackrabbits with 26 seconds left. Lonoke fouled Josh Trezvant with 25 seconds to go. Trezvant hit one of two for a 51-49 lead, setting up Spencer’s game-winner.
Spencer led a very balanced Lonoke attack with 11 points. Dobbins added nine as the second-leading scorer.
Toney and teammate Preston Hill scored 16 each to accound for the bulk of Morrilton’s scoring.
The Jackrabbits will play in the tournament championship game tonight against last night’s winner between Searcy and Van Buren.