Just off a third-place finish in the Cabot Pre-Holiday Classic last week, Lonoke’s Lady Rabbits will get two of their rivals before breaking for Christmas.
Heath Swiney’s team was 8-2 entering Tuesday’s game with Beebe. After visiting Episcopal Collegiate (2-4 at press time) on Friday, they’ll travel to Carlisle (6-2) on Saturday and play host to Central Arkansas Christian (9-1) and the nation’s No. 1 recruit, University of Connecticut signee Christyn Williams, Tuesday, Dec. 19.
“Episcopal is down a little bit, but we want to go over there and take care of business,” Swiney said Sunday. “Then we’ve got the rivalry game with Carlisle. We’re (two classifications) bigger, but sometimes in basketball that doesn’t make a lot of difference. We can’t overlook them because Carlisle more than likely will be a state tournament team again.”
The CAC game will feature a matchup between Williams, the two-time defending Gatorade Arkansas Player of the Year, and Lonoke’s Keiunna Walker.
“Every kid in the state who feels like they’re a good player wants to see what they can do against Christyn,” Swiney said. “The thing about CAC is they’re going to get everybody’s best shot every night. They lost (Lauren Peoples to graduation), but the ones who are back are better, and they moved a ninth grader (Bethany Dillard) up. She shoots really well and gives them another scorer.”
At Cabot last week, Lonoke beat Maumelle in the opening round but lost to Class 5A Beebe in the semifinals, 52-42. Beebe led after one quarter, 11-10, and at halftime, 21-17, before taking a handy lead after three, 38-20. But the Lady Rabbits won the fourth quarter, 22-14, to pull within 10 by the end.
“We didn’t play very well,” Swiney said of his team’s effort against the Lady Badgers, who went on to beat Cabot for the title. “We didn’t shoot the ball very well. They had a little bit to do with that, but we let the offensive end dictate how we played on defense.
“I tell them all the time there are going to be games when you’re not going to make shots, but we’re good enough, quick enough and athletic enough to guard on every possession.”
Walker led Lonoke with 31 points.
In the third-place game against Searcy, the Lady Rabbits led after one quarter, 13-17; at halftime, 26-18; and after three, 42-24. Walker scored 31 again.
On Friday, the Lady Rabbits stepped out of tournament play and knocked off Valley Springs, a perennial Class 3A contender, 47-42. Lonoke led after the first quarter, 15-8; at halftime, 22-15; and after three, 39-27. Walker again led scoring with 18 points. Arius McClain added 11.