Leader Blues

Saturday, March 01, 2008

SPORTS >> Lonoke girls extend year with OT win

Leader sportswriter

DUMAS — It took much longer than expected, but Lonoke finally came up victorious in the quarterfinals of the 4A State tournament with a 56-49 double overtime win over Prairie Grove on Friday night.

The Lady Jackrabbits improved to 25-8 on the season, and played the winner of last night’s game between Dumas and Dardenelle in the semifinals. Prairie Grove finished with a final record of 23-8.

“It was exciting; it’s what state tournament basketball is all about,” Lonoke coach Nathan Morris said. “It’s supposed to be this way. We struggled in the firsthalf, because Prairie Grove is such a tenacious team, but all of us did a better job in the second half.”

Hayley O’Cain and Prairie Grove’s Ashton Abahier traded three-pointers to start the second overtime, but it was Asiah Scribner’s put-back at the 2:34 mark that gave the Lady ‘Rabbits the lead for the final time.

Strong free throw shooting by sophomores Michaela Brown and Ashiegh Himstedt down the stretch kept Lonoke out front, as the Lady Tigers finally ran out of rallies.

The Lady Jackrabbits appeared to have the game in hand with 3:51 left in regulation. A free throw by Michaela Brown lifted Lonoke to a 40-32 lead, but the Lady Tigers got it to a one-possession game with 1:35 left in the fourth quarter.

The pivotal moment for Prairie Grove came with 10 seconds left in regulation, when post player Carrie Mitchell blocked a shot by Kendra Koyle, but was called for a foul. Koyle went down on the play, and senior sub Tara Cate came in to shoot the foul shots. She hit both ends, and a last-second attempt for Lonoke by Neighbors was well off the mark.

The Lady Jackrabbits came out a bit sluggish offensively to start the game, but freshman Cara Neighbors provided the initial spark at the 1:21 mark when she took a steal the length of the court for a layup, also drawing the foul from Elysia Clement. She missed the free throw, but Asiah Scribner was there for the rebound and putback, giving Lonoke a 12-8 lead.

Chelsea Glasscock narrowed it back to two for the Lady Tigers before the end of the period with a pair of free throws, but the Lady ‘Rabbits went on to own the next frame.

How tough was Lonoke’s defense in the second quarter? That question was best left to Prairie Grove sophomore post Julie Rutherford, who had to be taken out of the game due to hyperventalition with 3:28 left to go in the first half. Scribner had just handed the Lady ‘Rabbits their biggest lead of the first half at 23-14 off an inside shot assisted by Lauren Harper, which capped off an 11-2 run for Lonoke. Senior guard Hayley O’Cain started the run at the 7:03 mark with a three-point basket.

Rutherford did not return in the first half, but the Lady Tigers were able to control furhter damage. Jessie Van Wyhe hit two free throws that made it 23-16, but Carrie Mitchell began to find decent looks from the inside for Lonoke.

Her first goal was set up by an assist from O’Cain at the 2:28 mark, and she followed a three pointer for Prairie Grove with another jumper in the lane, this time assisted by Michaela Brown. It was 27-19 at the half.

Scribner led Lonoke with 16 points, with 14 points for Neighbors. Brown added 10 points for the Lady ‘Rabbits. For Prairie Grove, Ashton Abshier led all scorers with 24 points, 18 of which came off three-point baskets.