SPORTS >> Lady ’Rabbits strike early, dominate late
By JASON KING
Friday night’s 2-4A Conference game between rivals Lonoke and Bald Knob was somewhat anti-climactic as the Lady Jackrabbits clubbed the Lady Bulldogs 52-19 in a mercy rule-shortened game at Lonoke.
But the lack of drama was just fine with Lonoke coach Nathan Morris.
Maybe that’s because his Lady ’Rabbits (12-5, 4-0) have taken the driver’s seat in the league standings thanks to a victory over contender Stuttgart earlier in the week and their rout of the defending conference champion Lady Bulldogs on Friday.
Lonoke held Bald Knob (6-7, 1-1) to only four points until the final 1:21 of the first half, and scored all the points necessary to put the clock in continuous motion with 1:53 left in the third quarter. The one-sided victory put a new spin on a series that has traditionally been one of the more closely played in the state.
“It’s been such a big rivalry for the past four or five years,” Morris said. “I think our kids knew that. You can’t hide that. I’m proud of the way they played — I thought we came out very intense early. We pressed well and hit a lot of shots early.”
Quickness, a full-court defense and balanced scoring gave the Lady Jackrabbits an overwhelming advantage, not to mention a 21-0 run that began with two minutes left in the first quarter and ended with 1:21 left in the second, when Lady Bulldogs guard McKenzie Cox finally scored for Bald Knob.
But the Lady Jackrabbits had already built a 29-6 lead by that point, and continued to pressure the slower and less-experienced Lady Bulldogs coming out of halftime.
“We didn’t let up in the second half,” Morris said. “We played hard in the second half. We finished it off, and were able to rest starters. Scoring 14, 17, 17 — that’s good quarters, and at the same time holding them. Defensively, we executed real well and we executed most of the things we wanted to on offense.”
Lonoke junior guard Cara Neighbors led the way with 14 points while Ashleigh Himstedt scored 11 and post player Asiah Scribner scored 10. Senior point guard Michaela Brown scored eight points and made a three-pointer at the 6:12 mark of the first quarter to give the Lady ’Rabbits a 6-2 lead.
“This was a game where we felt like we were better athletes, so we wanted to utilize that,” Morris said. “Against Shiloh, Conway and Star City, we wanted to slow down a little bit, but this game, we wanted to run. I thought we did that; I thought they responded to that real well.”
The bench also came through for Morris. Junior Patrice Smith had a pair of steals and several rebounds while classmate Emily Howell disrupted the Lady Bulldogs inside by forcing jump balls and putting herself in passing and scoring lanes repeatedly.
“I though Patrice Smith did a good job tonight,” Morris said. “I thought she was under control. She’s getting more and more confidence. Those other kids who are playing some minutes are doing well.
“Anna Himstedt, our sophomore starter, has been doing well. And then Emily Howell has been coming off the bench and playing good minutes. They are not scoring a lot of points, but they are doing the things you don’t read about in the papers.”