Leader Blues

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

SPORTS>>’Rabbits bounce back, hold off late Southside charge

By JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

A win is a win, but for Lonoke coach Wes Swift, a close win on the road was exactly what his team needed.

The ’Rabbits held off a strong second-half rally by Southside Batesville for a 66-59 win on Friday. The Southerners trailed by as much as 23 points early in the third quarter before finding their rhythm mid-way through the period.

“That’s the first time we’ve won a game like that all year,” said Swift, whose team bounced back from a dismal home loss to Stuttgart and improved to 14-5 overall and 7-3 in the 2-4A Conference. “I was pleased with the way we played in the first half, but I warned them about letting up.”

While Stuttgart has all but clinched the 2-4A Conference title with a 9-1 record, the ’Rabbits sit alone in second with only four games left in league play.

Momentum appeared to stay with Lonoke to start the second half as it put up six straight points to go up 42-19. Southside answered with its own six-point run, and continued to nibble away at the deficit until it pulled to within 49-48 with three minutes left to play.

“We got inside time after time and couldn’t finish,” said Swift. “On their side, we had a hand in their face every time, and they couldn’t miss. I wish we could have come out in the third quarter and put them away; that’s been the only way we’ve won games up to this point is just blowing people out.

“But I was pleased how we turned it around once they got the momentum. We flipped the momentum back to our side, which is something we haven’t done all year.”

Sending the Southerners to the line was not an option for Lonoke. The hosts were 13 of 14 from the stripe in the second half, 14 of 17 for the game. Southside forward Mikey Fulcher also gave the ’Rabbit defense fits with his long-distance shots from the baseline.

An 8-0 run by the Jackrabbits late in the fourth quarter after they began to press Southside helped them pull out the tough win.

“We did a great job of pressing without fouling, especially on the road,” said Swift. “Our defense didn’t play totally bad in the second half. We were just letting their best players catch the ball instead of denying.”

Michael Howard led the Jackrabbits with 21 points. Pierre Smith added 18 for Lonoke.

Lonoke hosted Marianna last night, and will host Bald Knob on Friday.

SS BATESVILLE 62,
LONOKE GIRLS 55, OT

Asiah Scribner led the way for the Lady Jackrabbits with 18 points, with 14 points from Ashleigh Himstedt, but it was not enough, as the Lady Southerners dominated the overtime period to hand Lonoke its second 2-4A Conference loss of the season.

Lonoke went up 47-45 with less than 30 seconds left in regulation before Kelly Jackson hit two free throws for Southside.

The Lady Jackrabbits (17-5, 8-2) are still in second place in the 2-4A standings, two games behind league-leading Bald Knob.

“It severely dampens our chance at a conference title,” said Lady Jackrabbits coach Nathan Morris. “We held our own destiny before, but now we’re down to winning out and needing help.”

Kelly Jackson led all scorers for Southside Batesville with 27 points. Cara Neighbors added 10 points for Lonoke.