Leader Blues

Friday, January 09, 2009

SPORTS>>Lonoke boys fall, girls win at Stuttgart

By JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

The tough trip to Stuttgart proved a little too tough for Lonoke on Wednesday night. The Ricebirds handed Lonoke a 49-48 loss, dropping the Jackrabbits to 8-3 overall and 1-1 in the 2-4A Conference.

It was the second straight loss for the Jackrabbits, the first time they have lost back-to-back since the Jammin’ for Jackets tournament in Dec. ’07. Head ’Rabbit Wes Swift was disappointed with the loss, but is far from ready to hit the panic button.

“We won a state championship last year, and we lost our game at Stuttgart then,” Swift said. “Going to Stuttgart to play is just hard. First off, they’re a good basketball team. They have two new players that combined to score 10 points, and they really hurt us on the backboards.”

Clarence Harris led the Jackrabbits with 14 points. Michael Howard added 13. Lance Jackson had nine and Pierre Smith finished with eight points for Lonoke. For Stuttgart, Phillip Sykes led the way with 15 points.

The Ricebirds led 26-22 at halftime, but an 11-6 run by Lonoke in the third quarter put the ’Rabbits up by one. The Jackrabbits had a chance to go up by five with 1:40 left in thegame, but missed a layup and putback attempt.

Free throw shooting also hurt Lonoke. The ’Rabbits went 8 of 17 from the line, missing four attempts in the fourth quarter.

“You want to create good habits early,” Swift said. “But we’ve played very well at times. It always takes about six weeks for guys that also play football to hit their stride.”

The Jackrabbits will get a boost inside with the return of senior post Juice Lambert. Lambert has been out since the summer with a knee injury, but returned at a recent junior-varsity game at Searcy. Lambert played nearly three quarters in the game, a promising sign to Swift.

“He was winded, but he played a lot more than I thought he could,” Swift said. “I thought he was just going to be able to play a few minutes. I’m going to try to leave him in for half the game at Bald Knob (on Friday). He’ll give us a scoring threat on the low post, and take some of the pressure off our guards, to where they don’t have to try and penetrate all the time.”

LONOKE GIRLS 71, STUTTGART 52

The Lady Jackrabbits stayed unbeaten in 2-4A Conference play. The Lady Ricebirds jumped out to an 11-8 lead after one, but Lonoke post player Asiah Scribner went on to lead the way to a win with a 28-point, 13-rebound performance. She also blocked five shots.

“We’ve always gotten off to a slow start at Stuttgart – it’s just kind of a strange place to play,” said Lady Jackrabbits coach Nathan Morris. “In the second half, we started getting off more shots, and we quit turning the ball over as much.”

Cara Neighbors added 21 points, 18 of which came in the second half, along with eight rebounds and five steals. Ashleigh Himstedt finished with eight.

The Lady Jackrabbits im-proved to 11-3 overall and 2-0 in the 2-4A Conference. Morris said the rallies for wins over the last half of December through the New Year are attributable more to mental toughness than superior conditioning.

“We’re not in the best shape of anyone out there,” Morris said. “But I think we have a lot more mental toughness than physical.

I say that because we have those veterans who have been in the fire before, and know how to respond in those situations.”

Lonoke played at Bald Knob last night after Leader deadlines.