Leader Blues

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

SPORTS>>Lady Jackrabbits win big against Lady Warriors

Leader sports editor

As bad as Little Rock Hall was on Monday night in the opening round of its RAPA Roundball Rally, it was a little difficult to assess the new-look Lonoke Lady Jackrabbits, even after they walloped the Lady Warriors, 65-22.

One thing is for certain: The Lonoke girls are not going to be the slow-down, grind-it-out team of last season.

“Yeah, we’re going to try to push the ball more,” head coach Nathan Morris said. “We had a lot of bangers last year and not a lot of overall team speed. And the people that did have speed have another year of experience. That’s kind of why we want to run a little more this year.”

The other thing that’s obvious is that, despite the loss of a starter inside and an outside shooting specialist to graduation, the Lady ’Rabbits have a lot more weapons this season.

“We’ve got a lot more scoring options, no doubt about it,” Morris said.

Lonoke took advantage of poor, quick shots bythe Lady Warriors and raced past Hall’s pressing defenders for lots of easy transition baskets. The Lady ’ Rabbits were led by sophomore guard Cara Neighbors, who picked up where she left off as a freshman during Lonoke’s run to the finals last March. Neighbors scored 15 points, grabbed six rebounds and snagged a pair of steals in a little less than three quarters of play.

“She’s just a sophomore,” Morris said, clearly impressed by the young phenom.

Junior Asiah Scribner added 13 points and 10 rebounds, while Ashleigh Himstedt chipped in with 11 points and two steals.

Another junior, Michaela Brown, was a ball hawk and a playmaker on Monday, grabbing five steals and dishing out five assists, while scoring eight points.

The mismatch was apparent from the get-go, with Lonoke scoring the game’s first 14 points over the first six minutes of the game. Hall got its first field goal at the 9:01 mark, then made only five more the rest of the game as Lonoke’s pesky defense forced the Lady Warriors into 24 turnovers and just 6 of 32 overall shooting.

It wasn’t just the returners who were making contributions on Monday. Morris got to play a lot of players and almost all of them made contributions. The biggest came from Erin Shoemaker, who pulled down four rebounds and scored seven points off the bench. Sister Emily Shoemaker grabbed six boards and scored four points.

Lonoke looked solid in its first outing of the season, making 25 of 54 shots, including 2 of 4 from beyond the arc. Of its 16 turnovers, many came late in the game with the youngest players in. The Lady ’Rabbits out-rebounded Hall by a whopping 47-18 margin.

Thursday’s semifinal matchup with Parkview, 51-41 winners over Cabot on Monday, will provide a much better test for Lonoke.

“We’ve got some kinks to work out,” Morris said. “But we’re just happy to get a chance to play in a real game.”