SPORTS >>Season ends for Rabbits
By JASON KING
Leader sports writer
BALD KNOB — A great season came to an end on Thursday afternoon, as the Lonoke Jackrabbits watched Huntsville go on a 15-4 run in the third quarter to secure a 42-29 in the quarterfinals of the 4A state tournament.
The Eagles closed out the final 4:37 of the third frame with 11 unanswered points, which proved to be more than enough down the stretch in the defensive struggle. Both teams shot poorly in the first half, leading to a 17-16 Huntsville lead at the intermission.
Lonoke’s offensive troubles continued into the second half. Turnovers and offensive fouls kept the ‘Rabbits behind the eight ball for much of the third and fourth quarters, allowing Huntsville to slowly take control of the game’s momentum.
Marcus Bell helped the Eagles out to the initial lead with a three-point basket at the 7:22 mark of the first quarter.
Sophomore post Jordan Lambert answered for Lonoke with a put back of a Clarence Harris miss on the following possession.
The only Lonoke lead of the game occurred at the beginning of the second quarter, when Sammy Coleman hit a jumper at the 7:21 mark to give the ‘Rabbits a 9-8 lead. Stanley Staggers increased that lead moments later with a basket, but a basket and free-throw for Huntsville’s Dustin Todd would tie things up at 11-all with 5:16 left in the first half.
Lonoke’s shooting was its best by far in the second quarter. Three pointers from Coleman and defensive ace Brock Clement kept the Jackrabbits out front for most of the second frame, until two baskets by Cooper Trumbo in the final minute of the half put the Eagles back out front. Inside shots by Coleman and Bradley Spencer at the buzzer fell just short for Lonoke, sending them to the locker room with a one-point deficit.
Harris led Lonoke with seven points. Coleman had six, wheile Tyrone Dobbins added five points for the Jackrabbits. For Huntsville, Trumbo was the only double-digit scorer for either side with 16 points.
Wednesday’s opening round game with Pine Bluff Dollarway was a successful one for Lonoke, as the ‘Rabbits took advantage of poor Cardinal shooting to claim a 47-38 win. Lonoke led by as much as 14 points in the fourth quarter, until a small Dollarway rally in the final three minutes narrowed the gap.
“We figured if we could get to the fourth quarter with the lead, they couldn’t use their size advantage,” Jackrabbits coach Wes Swift said.
“They would be forced to chase our little guys. That was the plan, and it seemed to work for us.”
Lonoke showed tremendous patience offensively throughout the game, often holding the ball as much as two minutes before finding the shot they wanted.
Rebounding was a non-issue for the ‘Rabbits, especially on the offensive side.
The Dollarway posts proved ineffective against Lonoke inside, with most of the ‘Rabbit scores coming from beyond the low block. “We didn’t want to get into an up-and-down game,” Swift said. “As powerful as they are on the boards, the more you go up and down, the more shot opportunities and rebounding opportunities they get, so we just tried to be as patient as we could with the pressure they put on us. They try to make you play fast. I’m proud of my guys. They played well; they’re growing up.”
Harris led Lonoke with 15 points. Spencer finished with 14 points.
Staggers and Coleman each added seven points for the Jackrabbits.
For Dollarway, senior Tyrone Clay led all scorers with 16 points. The Jackrabbits finished with a final record of 23-10 for the season.