Leader Blues

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

SPORTS >> Lonoke girls hand BK first loss of season

By JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

The Lady Jackrabbits played giant killers on Friday, handing Bald Knob its first loss of the season. Man-to-man defensive pressure on the Lady Bulldogs turned out to be the key in a 38-27 win for Lonoke at the LHS gym. The win not only gave BK the first blemish on its record, it also propelled the Lady Jackrabbits into sole possession of first place in the 2-4A Conference standings. According to Lonoke coach Nathan Morris, the prospect of ending someone’s perfect record was a big motivator for the defending league champs.

“I can’t say that wasn’t talked about leading up to the game,” Morris said. “I told the kids that we still have a team that can win the conference title, but we weren’t getting any respect. Call it a chip on our shoulder or whatever, but the girls were focused. You can’t lose at home in this conference and expect to have a chance at the title.”

BK guard Phagon Altom was the primary focus of the Lady ’Rabbits’ defense. Altom managed 17 points to lead all scorers, but little offensive support from the remaining Lady Bulldogs kept Lonoke out front from the opening quarter on.

Lonoke needed an inspired offensive attack of their own, and found it inside. Sophomore post Asiah Scribner has proved to be the go-to player so far this season, and Friday was no different. The only difference this time is that she got plenty of scoring help inside from senior post Carrie Mitchell. Mitchell’s primary tasks have been defense and rebounding this year, but she got in the scoring mix against the Lady Bulldogs.

Things took a turn for the worse for Lonoke in the first quarter when guards Ashley Hempstedt and Michaela Brown both got in foul trouble while guarding the explosive BK shooting guard. Lauren Harper came off the bench to give an outstanding defensive performance, keeping a hand in Altom’s face to limit her looks.

Lonoke rushed out to an 11-2 lead at the end of the first quarter, mostly on the inside play of Scribner and Mitchell. Senior guard Hayley O’Cain warmed up toward the end of the frame, hitting the first of four buckets from behind the arc. O’Cain’s efforts from the outside made her the highest scorer for the Lady ’Rabbits with 12 points on the night.

The Lady Bulldogs played a little bit of catch up in the second quarter, but still trailed 21-15 at halftime. The third quarter was another defensive conquest for Lonoke, as it once again held BK to a single basket, while extending its lead to 30-17 heading into the final eight minutes.

O’Cain led the Lady Jackrabbits with 12 points. Brown added 10 points in a perfect offensive performance, going 6 for 6 at the foul line, and 2 for 2 from the field. Scribner and Mitchell each added seven points from the inside for the Lady Jackrabbits.

The win improves Lonoke’s record to 14-4 overall and 7-0 in the 3A-2 Conference. The loss gives the Lady Bulldogs records of 15-1 and 7-1.

Lonoke boys 61, BK 29

The Jackrabbits (13-5, 5-2) got back on track with a 61-29 win over the Bulldogs in Friday’s finale. They were coming off two straight league losses to Newport and Stuttgart, and needed a win to keep themselves in the hunt. A 13-point performance by Tony Jackson off the bench to lead all scorers may not have been Lonoke’s most impressive offensive performance of the season, but proved to be more than enough to down the rebuilding Bulldogs.

“We didn’t play well, no matter what the score says,” Jackrabbits coach Wes Swift said. “Honestly, it wasn’t that good, but we did get to play a lot of people, which was one good things that came out of it.”

The loss to Newport was somewhat surprising after the ’Rabbits stomped the Greyhounds during the finals of the Beebe tourney, but Swift believes the consistency needed to contend for the league title is still eluding his team.

“We’ve been trying all year to be great,” Swift said. “But in order to be in the running, you have to be great at the little things, and we’re not so good at those. We just go in and try to outscore everyone in the fourth quarter, but on the road, you’re going to have to play some defense at some point.”