Leader Blues

Saturday, November 22, 2008

SPORTS>>Lonoke girls pull stunner, reach finals

By KELLY FENTON
Leader sports editor

It may be only November and it may be the finals of an early-season tournament, but it felt like March and the state tournament after Lonoke posted a stunning and impressive 57-50 win over Class 6A’s Little Rock Parkview on Thursday night.

Asiah Scribner posted her second double-double of the season and the Lady Jackrabbits rallied from a four-point halftime deficit to nail down one of the biggest wins of head coach Nathan Morris’ tenure.

“That win goes up there with the big ones as far as my years here,” said Morris, whose team must contend with 7A North Little Rock tonight in the finals of the RAPA Roundball Rally at Little Rock Hall. “We’re not even thinking about North Little Rock right now. We’re going to enjoy this. It’s a big one to come over here and make the finals of this tournament.”

The Lady Jackrabbits, state runners-up in 4A the past two seasons, used a 14-5 run early in the second half to overcome a 5-point deficit. Scribner’s drive and left-hand lay-up put Lonoke ahead 33-32 at the 9:56 mark and the Lady ’Rabbits never trailed again.

Lonoke won despite getting only two points from sophomore sensation Cara Neighbors, who contributed in other ways, Morris said.

“She’s a sophomore,” he said. “There were nights last year when our sophomores struggled. When you’re a sophomore, you’re going to have growing pains. But she came in and had a great second half, had some big rebounds in the second half.”

Neighbors, along with Michaela Brown and Ashleigh Himstedt provided the Lady Rabbits with sterling guard play, especially on the defensive end. Though Parkview’s outstanding guard Micah Rice managed to score 19 points, Lonoke’s pressure defense forced the Lady Patriots — 10-point winners over Cabot in the first round — into 19 of 61 shooting and 12 turnovers.

“Michaela frustrated Micah all night tonight,” Morris said. “Micah couldn’t get away from her. She and Ashleigh are two of the best defensive guards in the state.”

Himstedt was fearless all night, driving to the basket against the rangy Lady Pats, scoring 16 points and dishing out a pair of assists.

“Ashleigh was a bit unsung a year ago,” Morris said. “But she’s been doing that all summer. She’s been busting her tail to improve. Every time we had a team camp or an AAU tournament, she was there busting her tail.”

Lonoke looked overmatched early as Parkview raced to leads of 5-0 and 11-5. But Lauren Harper’s three-pointer sparked an 11-0 run and Scribner’s basket off an inbounds play had Lonoke up 16-11 with 5:06 left in the opening half. Three buckets by Ryven Jackson to close the half put Parkview up 24-20.

Brown’s three-pointer early in the second half narrowed the gap to two and Scribner’s putback basket and two free throws by Himstedt knotted it at 30 at the 10:43 mark.

Erin Shoemaker may have delivered the bucket of the night when she drilled a three from the left of the circle 10 seconds after Parkview had cut the Lonoke lead to two with seven minutes remaining.

After Rice got a steal and a bucket to once again cut the Lonoke lead to two, Shoemaker took a fast-break feed from Neighbors for a breakaway basket with 6:20 left, and Parkview never got closer than four the rest of the way.

Scribner led the way with 17 points and 11 rebounds.

“She’s really coming along,” Morris said. “She pulled down some big rebounds when we didn’t block out. She just out-athleted them and went and got the ball. And Erin came in for the second straight game and scored seven.”

Brown added 10 points to go along with two assists and four steals. Shoemaker had seven points and four rebounds off the bench. Lonoke make 16 of 45 shots and 22 of 35 free throws. They turned it over just 11 times.

“That goes back to our leaders with our guards,” Morris said. “And we had good bench play tonight. It was an all-around great win.”

Lonoke plays North Little Rock at 8:30 tonight.

CABOT 73, HALL 50

Shelby Ashcraft scored 19 points as Cabot bounced back from their opening round loss to Parkview.

The Lady Panthers (2-1) led 37-23 at the half.

Jenna Bailey added 11, Amber Rock eight, Stephanie Glover seven and Amalie Benjamin six. Cabot takes on Bald Knob in the fifth-place game at 4:30 today.