Leader Blues

Friday, January 23, 2009

SPORTS>>Lonoke girls win

By JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

The Lady Southerners simply refused to go away.

But Lonoke got solid defensive play from post player Asiah Scribner and senior Lauren Harper, as well as a 19-point, 64-percent shooting performance by junior guard Ashley Himstedt on the offensive side for a hard-fought 49-38 win over Southside Batesville on Thursday night at the LHS gym.

The Lady Jackrabbits (15-4, 6-1) couldn’t shake their foes in the first half. The two teams traded the lead throughout most of the second quarter before Lonoke began to establish some control in the third.

“That’s the kind of ball team they are,” said Lady Jackrabbits coach Nathan Morris. “They’re a gritty team – a small, guard-oriented team. Even if they turn the ball over, they’re coming right back at you. They shoot extremely well, especially off screens. They did a great job of holding screens and getting themselves open.”

The smaller Lady Southerners were not shy about driving the lane, especially in the first half. It took a collective effort from Lonoke center Asiah Scribner and senior reserves Lauren Harper and Brianna Lynch to limit Southside. That effort finally paid off in the latter stages of the fourth quarter, as the Lady Southerners went without a field goal from the field in the final 5:08.

“We did a pretty good job defensively. I’m really pleased with that. They packed it in, and we were supposed to shoot, and we hit enough shots to win. We had some people that made some nice shots.”

The Lady ’Rabs’ began to gain momentum in the third quarter on the strength of Himstedt’s efforts at the baseline. She scored on three straight trips with a baseline runner from the left side from the 6:14 mark to the 4:40 mark that increased Lonoke’s lead to 30-24.

“That offense worked pretty well against the defense they threw at us,” Morris said. “She stepped up and knocked down some really important shots. When they were getting good looks at threes on the other end, we were able to pace with the twos on our end.”

Lynch scored on a putback on the Lady ’Rabbits next possession, and got plenty physical with the Southside post players on the defensive end.

“She came in here, got a big rebound, got a stick-back off the rebound,” Morris said. “She got a rebound that I think they would have scored on. She did the dirty work. We talk about knowing your role, and that’s her role. She came in and fulfilled that role tonight. No matter what amount of time she was out there, she did her job, as the rest of the bench did. I thought Lauren Harper did a good job off the bench and played good defense.”

Lonoke’s attempt at building a lead in the first half was to no avail. Southside forward Lunden Roberts drove repeatedly for eight of her team-high 14 points, and helped keep the Lady Southerners within a basket at halftime, 24-22.

“They’re going to be real tough at their place,” Morris said. “This keeps us in second place by ourselves. Keeps us in check to make a run. We have to win every home game to have a chance.”

Hemley made it interesting with a three-point basket with 5:08 left to play that cut it to 41-37, but a free throw by Roberts in the final minute was the only other point that came Southside’s way late. Lonoke, on the other hand, continued to attack with an inside shot by Asiah Scribner assisted by Cara Neighbors, and a pull-up jumper from Himstedt with 3:21 left to play that gave the Lady Jackrabbits a 45-37 lead.

Neighbors tacked on a pair of free throws after that, and a lay-up by Himstedt set the final margin.

The Lady Jackrabbits shot 19 of 50 from the field, but made only 3 of 11 from deep. Lonoke finished 8 of 15 from the free throw line.

Neighbors added 16 points and 11 rebounds, six of which were offensive. Scribner had six points and five blocks. Michaela Brown had eight assists for Lonoke.

Lonoke had a much easier time on the road Tuesday against DeWitt. The Lady Jackrabbits took a 62-33 win, with a 22-point night for Scribner. Neighbors added 14 points, with 10 from Himstedt. Brown had nine for Lonoke. Haley Horton led the Lady Dragons with 16 points.

Lonoke hosted Clinton last night, and will host Stuttgart on Tuesday.