Leader Blues

Saturday, December 29, 2007

SPORTS >>Jackrabbits slowly pull away from Academy

By RAY BENTON
Leader sports editor

There was no sudden burst of scoring to bury the opponent, and it couldn’t quite be called a dominant performance, but it was an impressive one as Lonoke handled Harding Academy 67-44 Thursday afternoon in the opening round of the Badger Christmas Classic at Beebe High School.

While there was no burst of scoring for the Jackrabbits, there was a steady sustained run late in the third quarter.

The Jackrabbits went into halftime up 31-19, and scored the first bucket of the second half, but gave up a quick 10-2 that saw the Wildcats climb back to within 35-29 at the 4:26 mark of the third quarter.

Lonoke coach Wes Swift called timeout, and his team controlled the next several minutes of play.

The Jackrabbits went into the fourth quarter ahead 48-34, and extended that lead to 20 in the fourth quarter when the Wildcats tried to pressure Lonoke to get back into the game.

“That just plays into our hands,” Lonoke coach Wes Swift said. Swift’s squad couldn’t press like it would have liked because it was called for 13 fouls in the first half.

Still, Swift was glad to see his team perform well in a game it was forced to play at a slower tempo.

“It was a difficult game for us to play, but it’s good for us to play in these types of games and do well,” Swift said.

His team experienced a similar, but much worse disparity last Friday in a tough conference road loss at Stuttgart.

Against Academy, Lonoke was called for 13 fouls in the first half to Academy’s four. The Wildcats shot 14 free throws to Lonoke’s one.

The previous Friday in a conference matchup at Stuttgart, the Ricebirds shot 24 second-half free throws to Lonoke’s one while the foul count was Lonoke 16, Stuttgart 3.

“In four quarters between the second half at Stuttgart and the first half of this one, our opponents shot 38 free throws to our two,” Swift said. “So we’ve gone through some learning experiences.”

The second half free throws against Academy tipped in the Jackrabbit’s favor. Lonoke shot 17 free throws to Academy’s five.
Lonoke’s lead reached double digits for the first time at 21-11 on a Lance Jackson three pointer with 4:36 left in the second quarter. Jackson scored all 10 of his points in the second period and sparked a run that saw the Jackrabbits push their lead from four to 12 points by halftime.

Harding Academy post player Lance Carr led the comeback attempt in the third quarter. Sophomore guard Zach Kirby’s transition three-point play cut the margin to 35-29 before Lonoke pulled away.

Junior guard Clarence Harris led Lonoke with 13 points while Carr led Academy with the same total. Lonoke’s Myles Taylor and Jackson each scored 10 points.

The win lifts Lonoke to 10-4 overall while Academy fell to 7-2.