|The Lonoke Lady Jackrabbits are the 4A-2 district tournament runners-up after falling to CAC in the finals Saturday. (Photo courtesy of Courtney Swiney)|
By Mark Buffalo
STUTTGART — The Lonoke Lady Jackrabbits had a strong showing in the 4A-2 district tournament last week and will be playing in the regional tournament this week.
Lonoke beat Southside Batesville and Heber Springs to advance to the district title game where it lost to Central Arkansas Christian 55-47.
Lonoke (20-9) will play Highland in the first round of the Class 4A East Region tournament Thursday at 7 p.m. at Cave City High School.
In the district tournament, Lonoke beat Southside 45-35 in the first round. That win got the Lady Jackrabbits qualified for the regional.
Lonoke beat Heber Springs 50-46 in the semifinals.
Lonoke led 28-21 at halftime. The Lady Panthers were able to get back into the game by outscoring Lonoke 13-6 in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, the Lady Jackrabbits made 11 of 20 free throws to hang on for the win.
Keiunna Walker led Lonoke with 33 points. Mickenzie Williams had seven. Mia Brown scored four. Kennedy White and Maddie Pool had three points each. Kaley Woodruff added two.
In the title game against top-ranked CAC, Lonoke led 30-28 at halftime. the score was tied 39-39 heading into the fourth quarter.
CAC outscored the Lady Jackrabbits 16-8. CAC made all six of its free throw attempts in the final eight minutes.
Walker led Lonoke with 27 points. Woodruff had seven. Gracie Hyde scored six. Pool and White had three points each. Williams added a free throw.
CAC’s All-American junior Christyn Williams led all scorers with 33 points.
Lonoke coach Heath Swiney was proud of the way his team played last week.
“Any time you can get to the postseason, you’ve had a good year,” Swiney said. “That first one was big. Some of the conferences get first-round byes but ours doesn’t. With that first game, the coaches are tight; the kids are tight. I thought we played more loose in the tournament the more games we played. I think that will help us next week.
“I thought our kids played real well in the district tournament. Our kids just came up a little short in the finals.”
Swiney said his team earned their shot at the postseason.
“We just happened to get beat by CAC,” he said.
For Lonoke to have a chance to play in the Class 4A state tournament, it must beat Highland on Thursday in the regional. According to Max Preps, the Lady Rebels are 11-14 on the season.
“I went and watched them play and they’ve got a guard and post player,” he said. “They are real similar to Heber Springs. Their post player is really skilled and their guard is really quick and can get to the basket. We’re going to watch some film on them.”
Swiney added that Highland is a “pretty good shooting team.”
“They play in northeast Arkansas and northeast Arkansas loves their basketball,” he said. “We’re going to have to go up there and be ready to play.”
The Lonoke Jackrabbits earned a spot in the regional tournament with a 71-69 overtime win over Riverview in the first round of the district tournament. They will be the fourth seed at Cave City and will play host Cave City in the first round on Wednesday at 8:30 p.m.