The Lonoke Lady Jackrabbits handed Heber Springs its only 4A-2 conference loss of the season Friday night, beating the Lady Panthers 61-43 on Friday night in the regular-season finale at the Gina Cox Center.
Lonoke is now 20-6 overall and 12-2 in league play. The Lady Jackrabbits will be the second seed in the district tournament this week at Marianna and will play today at 4 p.m. in the semifinals. The finals are Saturday at 6 p.m.
Lonoke is also automatically qualified for the regional tournament, which starts next Wednesday at Clinton High School. This is Lonoke’s first time to be receive an automatic berth in postseason play since 2010.
"I’m proud of the kids," Lonoke coach Nathan Morris said. "We handled the basketball very well. We shot free throws very well and we kept our composure. There some times, especially when they came back, that we had the comopusre to pull back in and distance it. We showed a lot of composure to state the course.
Lonoke led 23-18 at halftime but the Lady Panthers pulled to within one at 31-30 and 33-32 with 1:48 left in the third quarter. Lonoke got consecutive three-point plays from Eboni Willis and Callie Whitfield to push the lead back to seven at 39-32. Lonoke led 41-35 heading into the fourth quarter.
The Lady Jackrabbits put the game away with a 7-0 run to start the fourth quarter to lead 48-35 with 5:28 left.
Willis led Lonoke with 24 points. Amanda Sexton added 16. Jarrelyn McCall had 15. Whitfield scored three. Ashlyn Allen had two. Kerasha Johnson added a free throw.
Lonoke’s win over Heber Springs was more than it’s two conference losses combined — six points.
"We’ve got a lot to play for next week," Morris said. "It’s been a while since we’ve won a district title around here."
The Lonoke Lady Jackrabbits will play in the regional tournament next week at Clinton High School.
If Lonoke wins the district title, the Lady Jackrabbits will play Wednesday at 4 p.m. If they are fourth, they will play Wednesday at 7 p.m.
If Lonoke is second, it will play Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. If they are third, they will play Feb. 27 at 4 p.m.