Leader Blues

Saturday, January 02, 2010

SPORTS >> Jackrabbits get in gear to grab grudge match

Lonoke's Tarrel Watson extends for a rebound against Warren.

Leader sportswriter

Warren’s attempt at revenge against Lonoke fell just short on Wednesday in the fifth-place game of the Beebe Christmas Classic basketball tournament at Badger Sports Arena.

The Jackrabbits, who beat Warren in the 4A football playoffs, found a way through the Lumberjacks’ stifling press in the late going, and found their way to the free-throw line six times in the fourth quarter to help themselves to a 48-44 victory.

Lonoke scored a football upset at Warren on the way to the state championship game, but the Lumberjacks’ bid for redemption was not to be because of solid free-throw shooting from ’Rabbits junior guard Darius Scott, a starting receiver/defensive back in football.

“I don’t know how much that came into play,” Jackrabbits coach Dean Campbell said of the vengeance factor. “I know a lot of them did play on the football team, and one of them even made a comment to one of our guys. He laughed and shrugged it off.

“There may have been a little bit of that, but it’s something that we as coaches have no control over.”

Scott went 6 of 8 from the free-throw line in the final 1:11 to keep Lonoke out front, and went on to lead the Jackrabbits with 13 points.

“We still missed 10 free throws in the first half, but we made some big ones when we needed to,” Campbell said. “Especially when we were up by only three to make it a two-possession game. We did that a couple of times.

“We did a better job of handling pressure at times and played better defense at times. We talked about doing better on the boards with Warren being such a good, athletic team, and we did a fairly good job of doing that.”

Lonoke pushed its lead in the second half to 31-24, but as it did in the first half, Warren quickly rallied to make it a one-point game at the end of the third quarter.

The lead changed hands four times in the first quarter until Lonoke established momentum two minutes into the second period. Scott scored inside to give the Jackrabbits a 14-10 lead, and Tarrale Watson followed a pair of Warren free throws with a three-point basket that extended the lead to 17-12 with 3:53 left.

But that momentum was short lived. Demarcus Calbert sparked a Lumberjack rally with a dunk with 3:20 left, and Jalen Cobb hit 3 of 4 free throws on two consecutive possessions to tie it 17-17 with 1:49 left in the first half.

Lonoke got the last word before halftime with an inside shot by junior post player Chad Dixon and a Watson free throw tacked on for a 22-17 lead.

Watson added 10 points for Lonoke. Cobb led Warren with 21 points.

Lonoke went 2-1 in the three-day tournament. The Jackrabbits almost came from behind against county rival Carlisle in the first round, but lost 62-58.

They easily downed White Hall in the consolation round before closing out the tournament with their victory on Wednesday.

“It ended up being a very good tournament for us,” Campbell said. “We are learning to come out and play hard at the beginning of games. That was something we didn’t do against Carlisle, and we dug a hole for ourselves. It was a lot of work to try and come back from that, so maybe it was a good first game for us to have.

“Warren is much more athletic than some of the other teams we’ve played. We were able to get our legs under us and play at a faster pace, and control the tempo at times. We’re in good shape and have some momentum for conference play.”