Leader Blues

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

SPORTS >> Group effort propels Lady Jackrabbits

Emily Howell goes up for a shot in Lonoke’s victory over Carlisle at Beebe.

Leader sportswriter

The Lonoke Lady Jackrabbits advanced to the semifinal round of the Beebe Christmas Classic with a mercy-ruled 58-29 victory over cross-county rival Carlisle on Monday afternoon at Badger Sports Arena.

The Lady Jackrabbits (8-5) used their entire bench during the rout and triggered the sportsmanship/timing rule with a 30-point lead at the start of the fourth quarter.

“It’s always good to get our feet back under us after Christmas break,” said Lady Jackrabbits coach Nathan Morris, who was pleased his team didn’t let down with the big lead.

“More than anything, I was happy that we came out and played hard in the second half, because it’s easy to do that, and they didn’t let up,” Morris said. “We stayed on and we executed well. Offensively we executed well and we played pretty solid defense.”

Lonoke held Carlisle to six points in the first quarter and five in the second to take a 32-11 lead at halftime and then kept the pressure up in the final two quarters.

The Lady Jackrabbits used 14 players and nine made it on to the scoreboard at some point.

“You never know when you’re going to have to have those folks down the stretch,” Morris said. “Their role might be limited; their role might be more minutes. If the starters do their job and get up on top of somebody early, we’ll put them in a little earlier.

“You never know; you might be an ankle injury away from having to use one of them.”

Junior shooting guard Cara Neighbors got in on the action in the fourth quarter after sitting out most of a month recovering from wrist surgery.

It did not take long for Neighbors to shake off the rust as she scored eight of the Lady Jackrabbits’ 10 points in the final period.

“I wouldn’t have done that if the kid had not been practicing,” Morris said. “She’s been going at about 85 percent in all of our contact stuff. We were fortunate enough we could get her into the doctor and get her in there and released — just a little bit of rust.”

After a slow start, things picked up for the Lady Jackrabbits in the final minute of the first quarter.

Asiah Scribner scored inside to make it 9-3 Lonoke, but Whitney Thrift answered for the Lady Bison (5-4) with a three-point basket. Lonoke reserve Emily Smith closed out the quarter for the Lady ’Rabbits with a pair of free throws and a putback that gave Lonoke a 13-7 lead heading into the second quarter.

Lonoke turned up the defensive pressure to open the second quarter, which resulted in a 7-0 run. Ashleigh Himstedt scored on two straight jumpers, followed by a free throw by younger sister Anna Himstedt and a basket by Scribner with 5:32 left to give the Lady Jackrabbits a 20-6 lead.

The elder Himstedt struck again with 5:06 left in the half to increase Lonoke’s lead to 22-8. She also scored on a Scribner steal and assist seconds later and drew a foul and completed the three-point play to put the Lady Jackrabbits up 25-8.

She went on to lead Lonoke with 14 points. Scribner finished with 11.

Ashleigh Himstedt got her next score unassisted when she stole a Carlisle pass at midcourt and drove for a lay-up to make it 28-8 with 2:38 left in the half. Smith then hit two free throws to extend the lead to 30-8.

Jessica McCallie finally ended Lonoke’s second 7-0 run of the period with a pair of free throws with 2:09 left before Emily Howell closed out the half for the Lady Jackrabbits with a putback of her miss with 1:49 left to make it 32-10.