Lonoke coach Dean Campbell is looking for improvement from his Jackrabbits as the season kicked off Tuesday at Bauxite.
The Jackrabbits will visit Class 6A Russellville on Monday and welcome Joe T. Robinson to the Gina Cox Center on Tuesday, Nov. 21.
“It’s more about us right now,” Campbell said Sunday. “It’s only been a week for us since we’ve had everybody (after football season). I think we’re a lot further along this year than we were last year at this time. This group seems to really like each other and likes to play together.
“I’m happy with the progress they’ve made so far.”
The Jackrabbits played their benefit game with Perryville last week. After falling behind 28-11, they won, 63-56.
“We couldn’t hit a shot in the first half, but we had a really good fight back,” Campbell said. “Our kids battled. We missed nine free throws in the first half but ended up shooting a good percentage in the fourth quarter when we needed to.
“We kept our defensive intensity, didn’t get discouraged and kept attacking. If we continue to build on those things and each day try to learn something new, I hope when we get in a game, there’s not too much we haven’t covered.”
Back with starting experience are juniors Tony Bryant, Braidon Bryant and Tyriqe Jackson. Junior Nick Tate got some playing time as a sophomore. Senior E’Shawn Brown is back after overcoming a football injury last year. Senior Deangelo Noid is eligible after transferring in last year. He scored 15 against Perryville.
“I hope this group is a lot more defensive-minded, and I think this will be one of our better shooting groups,” Campbell said.
With 17 on the roster, the coach said he planned to play some junior varsity games to develop experience “not only for next year and the year after, but maybe later this season.”
Junior Isaiah Thomas, a transfer from Cabot, is fitting in well.
“He had a great defensive game against Perryville and is an impact player on the offensive end, but he doesn’t have to be scoring,” Campbell said. “He’s a facilitator. He does a good job of getting everybody involved and sets the tone for us.”
Last year, the Jackrabbits finished 12-16 after a 68-43 loss to Cave City in the opening round of the Class 4A East Regional on the Cavemen’s home court — one win short of qualifying for the Class 4A State Tournament.