Leader Blues

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

SPORTS >> Breakdown in lane is costly to Lonoke

Storm Beeler attempts a jumper for the Lonoke Jackrabbits against Carlisle.

Leader sportswriter

Lonoke’s comeback stalled, but what a comeback it was.

The Jackrabbits cut a 15-point deficit to two in the final minute before Carlisle pulled out a 62-58 victory in the first round of the Beebe Christmas Classic at Badger Arena on Monday.

Keonta Murray gave the Bison the victory when he hit a pair of free throws in the closing seconds. Lonoke’s comeback stalled in the lane with 10 seconds left when Tarrale Watson’s layup landed just off and Carlisle pulled down the rebound and then drew the foul.

“We can’t look at the missed layup at the end as making or breaking our game,” Lonoke coach Dean Campbell said. “We didn’t play very well in the first half at all and we dug ourselves a hole. We used a lot of energy coming back, and when you come up short like that, it is a little heartbreaking.

“But I told the guys that if you’re not afraid to lose, then you can win some games and come back in some games that maybe you shouldn’t.”

The Jackrabbits trailed by 15 with just over three minutes left before starting their rally.

Carlisle was premature in playing keep away with 3:18 still to go.

The resurgent Jackrabbits defense forced Malcolm Murray to dribble out of bounds, and an inside shot by T.J. Scott cut it to 57-52. Storm Beeler then made it a one-score game with a three-pointer.

D.J. Love scored for Carlisle on a putback and Scott answered, and the teams traded free throws to push the score to 60-58.

Carlisle missed the front end of a 1-and-1, and Dixon pulled down the rebound for the Jackrabbits.

Carlisle pressured Lonoke into a number of forced passes, many of which found their way out of bounds. A number of other frantic passes were picked up by the Bison and converted into easy transition points.

“That comes with young, inexperienced players not taking time to catch it and look,” Campbell said. “Instead just catching and going right away. As pressure comes, we’re trying to get used to handling that pressure, and try to make good passes and be patient. And that goes along with experience.”

The Bison got their initial lead with solid offensive play by Love at the end of the first quarter. Love hit a three-pointer and then took an assist from Malcolm Murray for a crowd-approved dunk with 56 seconds left in the quarter.

That gave Carlisle a 17-13 lead, and another Love basket extended the advantage to seven.

The Bison (6-1) went on an 8-1 run to end the first half and built their lead to 38-24.

Love went on to lead the Bison with 17 points, while Chris Larkin and Keonta Murray were close behind with 16 each.

Lonoke (1-4) struggled with turnovers most of the game, but the Jackrabbits (1-4) became the aggressors in the final period.

Darius Scott fueled much of Lonoke’s comeback in the second half with 11 of his team-high 17 points in the third quarter.

Scott’s run in the third began with a three-pointer with 4:51 left in the period and also included an old-fashioned three-point play with 3:37 left.

The loss put the Jackrabbits in the consolation bracket, but Campbell believes he has the ingredients for a potent team as the players gain experience.

“I think we’ve got a good mix,” Campbell said. “We have some kids who can shoot and some who are getting stronger physically.

“We’re not heavy one way or the other. The more we play and the more comfortable we get with each other, the more we will know who can do what.”