SPORTS >> Late steal dooms Lonoke girls
Lonoke had all the Lady Bulldogs right where it wanted them in the final three seconds — except for one Bald Knob sophomore.
Guard McKenzie Cox provided a dramatic ending to Bald Knob’s 40-38 win over the Lady Jackrabbits on Friday night at the LHS gymnasium with a steal and game-winning lay-up at the buzzer.
Lonoke (18-6, 9-3 in the 2-4A) had 3.3 seconds to set up a winning shot after a defensive rebound by Asiah Scribner gave the Lady ’Rabbits possession in the 38-38 game.
Lonoke coach Nathan Morris called time-out once the ball reached mid-court to talk things over, but that plan went awry when Cox intercepted the inbounds pass to Michaela Brown at mid court and scored at the other end to complete the regular-season sweep of the Lady ’Rabbits.
“The coach shouldn’t have called time-out there with five seconds left; he should have just let it play out,” said Morris on his time-out call. “That’s the bottom line. (I) should have just let it play out. If I had it to do all over again 100 times, I wouldn’t call it.”
The Lady Bulldogs (23-3 overall) finished the season with an unbeaten 12-0 mark in the 2-4A Conference, and claimed the league title outright for the second straight year.
“That’s two good ball clubs right there,” said Bald Knob coach Tim Fulks. “Year after year, it’s us and Lonoke. Nathan does a heck of a job, and I hope I do a heck of a job. We match wits every year. I mean, it’s either us or it’s them. We played our best ballgame tonight. We had to.”
The game was filled with physical play, plenty of lead changes and few surprises. The surprise factor changed, however, when Cox, who was held to only three points during the first meeting between the two teams in January, began to find her way to the basket in the second half.
Her three-point basket from 28 feet out at the 2:36 mark of the third quarter gave the Lady ’Dogs their biggest lead of the game at 26-20. Her winning shot was two of her eight fourth-quarter points, as she went on to lead Bald Knob with 15 points and six rebounds.
Lonoke gave most of its extra defensive attention to senior all-state player Phagen Altom, who was held to 10 points.
Scribner won the battle down low against Bald Knob post Brittany Fulks. Scribner finished with a game-high 17 points and nine rebounds, along with two steals and two blocked shots. Fulks managed six points and six rebounds.
“Scribner’s going to get hers,” said Tim Fulks. “She’s so dad-gum strong, she goes to the boards hard. Realistically, I don’t know of too many times that she caught the ball and actually scored. Maybe six or eight points; the rest of them were off putback baskets and stuff like that. That’s her game – she’s strong, she’s a good ballplayer.”
There were four lead changes in the first half. The Lady Jackrabbits finished the second quarter with a Scribner basket at the 1:35 mark and an inside jumper by Cara Neighbors with eight seconds left for an 18-17 lead at the half.
Scribner fought back once Bald Knob went up by six with a pair of free throws, followed by an inside basket assisted by Neighbors.
She also drew a foul on the play and hit the free throw to pull Lonoke within 26-25 with 1:15 left in the third.
Altom gave the Lady Bulldogs a 33-29 lead with 6:53 left to play with a driving basket and free throw, but a pair of free throws by Lonoke’s Lauren Harper cut the lead in half.
Scribner tied it at 33 with a pair of foul shots that followed a steal by Ashleigh Himstedt.
“I’m proud of the kids. We played well enough to win,” said Morris. “There’s certainly things we can take from it that can make us better for the next time. In the fourth quarter, the kids stepped up.
“We did an outstanding job on Altom and held her to 10 points. We just let the sophomore loose. They ran their offense, and she made the right cuts, and they made the right passes.”
Neighbors added 11 points for the Lady Jackrabbits. Lonoke had 10 turnovers to Bald Knob’s 11, and both teams finished with 21 rebounds.
LONOKE BOYS 70,
BALD KNOB 39
The Jackrabbits pulled away in the second half after securing a 37-23 lead at intermission. Senior post Juicy Lambert put up six of his 10 points for the game in the first quarter, including a jump shot in the paint at the 3:41 mark to put Lonoke up 11-6.
Trenton Spencer gave the ’Rabbits their first double-digit lead of the game in the last minute of the period with a lay-in to put Lonoke up 19-9.
Sophomore post Chad Dixon extended the lead at the 3:44 mark of the second quarter with a lay-up and free throw that gave the Jackrabbits a 27-16 lead.
Lance Jackson led Lonoke with 11 points, while Darius Scott Michael Howard and Lambert all finished with 10 points.
The Jackrabbits are 16-5 overall, and finished the 2-4A Conference season with a 9-3 record, which will give them a No. 2 seed at next week’s district tourney at Batesville Southside.