Devils take two from NP soccer

By Ray Benton
Leader sports writer

===The Jacksonville boys and girls soccer teams got their season off to a great start Monday night, beating crosstown rival North Pulaski twice in a doubleheader.
=== The girls game came right down to the wire, while the Red Devil boys drilled the Falcons 9-0. In the girls game, North Pulaski's Ashlee Rico broke a 0-0 tie 10 minutes into the second half to give the Lady Falcons a 1-0 lead.
=== About 10 minutes later, Jacksonville senior Holly Kirby tied the game when she maneuvered Stacey Higgins corner kick into the goal from the middle of the penalty box. The game stayed tied at one point apiece until the last minute.
=== Jacksonville senior Jessica Beaver scored off a deflection with 22 seconds remaining to give the Lady Devils the victory.
=== The Jacksonville boys only built on the momentum created by the girls late-game heroics. The Red Devils came into the game on a four-game losing streak against their city rivals, and played with a lot of fire from the outset. Jacksonville senior Alex Krick controlled the action in the first half, scoring three goals and leading the Red Devils to a 7-0 lead at halftime.
=== North Pulaski boys coach Tony Buzzitta was impressed with Krick's performance. "He's an extremely talented player and he dominated in that first half," Buzzitta said. "Plus they really came out ready to play and played with a lot of energy, while we came out flat. It was the best game I've ever seen them play."
=== Krick added another goal on a penalty kick in the second half to finish with four goals.
=== Brandon Klar scored twice for Jacksonville while Chase Goffe, Nick Hargett and Manuel Alvidrez each scored goals for the Devils. Monday's matchup was the second of the year for the NP boys and third for the ladies.
=== Last Friday night, North Pulaski split with Malvern. The Lady Falcons won their match 4-3 while the boys lost 1-0. Last Tuesday, the NP girls lost 5-0 to Mount St. Mary's.
=== The Falcons have not scored in two matches so far this season, which is a problem Buzzitta knew his team would face this year.
=== "Our biggest challenge this year is to find point production," Buzzitta said. "We lost nearly half our point production with the loss of Conrade (Marshall), and another 25 percent with Fernando (Bittencourt) graduating. We've talked about the fact that we're not going to have one guy with 35 goals and another with 20. We're going to need five or six guys to have 10 this year."
=== North Pulaski hosts Sylvan Hills on Thursday while Jacksonville travels to Searcy.

Cabot ladies beat Bombers in the Hangar

Boys suffer terrible shooting woes in 48-11 loss to Mt. Home

Leader sports writer

===The Cabot Lady Panthers got a big win Friday night at playoff contender Mountain Home, beating the Lady Bombers in the Hangar 62-46 to improve to 10-1 in conference play. The boys, on the other hand, turned in their worst performance of the year, losing 48-11 while scoring just two field goals the entire game.
=== The Cabot boys made one shot in the first quarter and another in the third, with over 16 minutes elapsing between those baskets. The Panthers got open looks, including a few uncontested layup attempts, but couldn't get anything to fall all night.
=== Cabot coach Jerry Bridges was at a loss to explain the reason for the performance, but stressed that it was not due to a lack of effort.
=== "Definitely not," Bridges said. "In fact, I think we picked it up defensively in the second half and did a pretty good job. It was just a game where everyone had a bad night. I've never experienced anything like this before. Make no mistake, we're embarrassed by it. But I still believe in my boys, they're good kids. We're going to keep working hard and try to end this thing on a positive note. We're not going to be remembered for what we did last Friday night."
=== Mountain Home's Kyle Newth was the only player in double figures with 21 points.
=== Both teams are now 9-14 overall. Cabot still has a half-game lead over the Bombers in the conference standings with a 4-7 record.
=== Mountain Home is 3-7 in conference play. The Lady Panthers rode the strong inside game of senior center Ashley Anderson in the first half to take control of the game.
=== Cabot took a 30-22 lead into intermission. Mountain Home made a run early in the third quarter. Cabot scored the first basket of the second half, but Mountain Home scored eight straight to cut the lead to 32-30.
=== The Lady Bombers pulled to within one midway through the quarter, but that's when Cabot got hot from outside.
=== Sophomore guard Maddie Helms hit back-to-back three pointers and Cabot scored the last 11 points of the quarter to take a 45-33 lead into the final period.
=== Anderson scored 23 points to lead four Lady Panthers in double figures. Junior Kim Sitzmann added 16 while Helms scored 12 and junior Lauren Daniels added 11.
=== The Cabot ladies are now 19-5 overall while Mountain Home dropped to 14-9 and 6-4.



Lions pull off upset win over Mustangs

Searcy ladies win, stay in playoff race

By Ray Benton
Leader sports writer

===The upperclassmen kept the Searcy Lions close and the sophomores made the big plays down the stretch Friday night as the Lions upset second-ranked Forrest City 53-51 at the Searcy High gymnasium.
=== Sophomore point guard Justin Rowden canned a 12-foot jump shot with 13 seconds left and another 10th grader, Matt Cramblett, came up with a key steal to help seal the victory.
=== The win kept Searcy in the thick of the AAAAA-East Conference race, where the Lions improved to 6-5. Forrest City, which was ranked nationally earlier in the season, dropped to 16-5 overall and 6-4 in the league standings. Cramblett swiped the ball as the Mustangs came back downcourt following Rowden's shot.
=== Cramblett got the ball to Cody Wilmath, who was fouled and knocked down one-of-two from the line for a 53-51 lead with three seconds left. Forrest City's Chris Williams was long on a 40-footer at the buzzer.
=== "Forrest City is so athletic that they made it tough for us to get the ball inside as much as we wanted," Searcy coach Roger Franks said. "Because of that, though, we thought our guards would be able to penetrate some. Fortunately, Justin was able to do that at just the right time."
=== Rowden's jumper gave Searcy its first lead since the 2:31 mark of the first half.
=== The Lions managed to tie the game once in the second half, at 26, when Kyle Wray hit a 10-footer early in the third quarter. Wray was essential in Searcy being able to stay within reach of the Mustangs in the second half.
=== The senior followed a 32-point performance on Tuesday night in a loss to Sylvan Hills with 21 points against Forrest City, 10 of those coming in the fourth quarter.
=== Forrest City enjoyed a 49-42 lead with less than two minutes to play before Wray began racking up more points. His driving bucket was followed by a Forrest City turnover, which resulted in Wray's putback of a Cramblett missed 3-pointer that pulled Searcy to within 49-46 with 1:16 left.
=== Taurus Moore hit one-of-two from the line to stretch the lead back to 50-46 with 57 seconds left, but Wray wasn't finished. He scored inside with 44 seconds left and, after Grady hit a free throw, Wray drove and scored again to cut the lead to 51-50 with 29 seconds left. Grady missed the front end of a one-and-one with 22 seconds left and Chris Brown rebounded for Searcy and handed the ball to Rowden, who never gave it up before dropping the game-winner.
=== Brown played most of the game despite a severe ankle sprain suffered in the first quarter of Tuesday's loss to Sylvan Hills.
=== The 6-8 junior was a force inside, scoring 16 points and blocking several Mustang shots.
=== It was a contribution Franks couldn't overlook. "We wouldn't have had a chance without him and he knew that," Franks said. "It was really courageous of him to give it all he had tonight. Cramblett, too, has been playing hurt and he came up with a huge play there at the end," he added.
=== Forrest City matched its largest lead of the game at 42-33 after Sherman Allen hit a jumper following a Searcy turnover with 18 seconds left in the third quarter.
=== The Lions came out hot in the fourth. Brown hit a pair of free throws to cut the lead to 42-36 and Wray scored on a putback before Levi Dixon hit a free throw to narrow the lead to 42-39.
=== After Brown's three-point play cut the lead to two, Forrest City recovered, scoring five consecutive points for the 49-42 lead. Seven consecutive points by Williams gave Forrest City a 15-6 first quarter lead before Wilmath and Rowden hit back-to-back treys and Wray scored on a drive to cut the lead to 15-14.
=== The Lions led briefly in the second quarter when Kevin Lewis scored off a Rowden feed for a 20-19 advantage with 3:44 left in the second quarter. Forrest City led 26-22 at the half. Williams led the Mustangs with 13 points, nine of those coming in the first quarter. Marcus Britt added 11 points, all in the first half.
=== After Wray's 21 and Brown's 16, Rowden added seven for Searcy. The Lions end their four-game homestand on Tuesday night against Jacksonville.
=== In the senior girls' game, the Searcy ladies put three players in double figures and pulled down a season-high 53 rebounds to win their second game in a row in a 54-38 victory over the Lady Mustangs.
=== With the win, Searcy improved to 10-14 overall and 4-7 in conference play and stayed in the hunt for the fourth and final playoff spot in the AAAAA-East conference.
=== The Lady Lions are now tied with the Lady Mustangs for fifth place and both teams trail fourth-place Mountain Home by two games with three remaining in the season. Amy Lewis led the way with 14 points and was followed by Meagan Celsor with 13 and Allyson Middleton with 11.
=== A Felicia Graham 3-pointer with a minute left in the second quarter gave Searcy a 24-12 cushion. Forrest City fought back in the fourth, cutting the lead to 38-29 with 7:03 to play. Kallie Bartee's 3-pointer started an 8-0 run, though, that sealed the win. Sequoria Grady had 11 to lead Forrest City.