Lonoke’s Jackrabbits will celebrate Senior Night on Friday when Mayflower visits the Gina Cox Center.
Dean Campbell’s team was 11-12 heading into Tuesday’s game with Episcopal Collegiate. The Eagles opened the week 5-14 overall, including a 71-68 loss to Lonoke in the first meeting.
“Mayflower’s one of those teams that if you’re not prepared is very capable of beating you,” Campbell said Sunday. “Last time, I think we were up 18 at one time on them and getting ready to push it to 20. But we relaxed, and people aren’t going to lay down. They made it a game, kept it close, so they’re very capable if we’re not into it.
“And I think with the time of year, these guys understand. We’ve talked a lot about where we’re at, what we need to do, and heading into the district tournament with as much momentum as possible. That comes with each and every day trying to prepare. Mayflower’s got some kids who can definitely play, and I’m sure they’re sitting there thinking, ‘If we’d had a little more time, we could’ve beaten them.’
“We’ve got to limit those stretches where we relax and let people make runs. Mayflower’s going to be a really good test for us.”
Lonoke will finish the regular season against eStem (scheduled for Philander Smith College) on Tuesday, Feb. 6. At press time, the Mets were 16-10 overall, including a 64-33 win over Lonoke.
“They are good — long, athletic, big,” Campbell said. “They have some stuff that gives us issues and problems. We’re going to have to play extremely, extremely well, but I think that we’re moving in the right direction.
“Guys are getting healthy now, which is huge, and the ones who’ve been out are in better shape. It’s important for us to go in there and try to get a win on the road, which is tough.”
Last week, the Jackrabbits lost to Baptist Prep, 74-41, for the second time this season. They played the defending Class 4A state champions to a 13-13 tie after one quarter, but the Eagles took off in the second to build a 33-20 lead at halftime and a 54-31 advantage after three.
Lonoke won at Central Arkansas Christian on Friday, 56-48.
“We’d had a tough one Wednesday night where we played really well in the first quarter and then lost track of a couple of guys for a little bit and got down and went in the other direction,” Campbell said. “Friday night (at Mustang Mountain) was one of those nights where we had a chance to do the same thing, and we didn’t do that. We buckled down.”
CAC led after one quarter, 14-10, behind the scoring of Kam Vick, Davis Gatling and Jacob Hale. The Jackrabbits rallied for a 22-17 lead with 2:17 left before the break behind the scoring of Tony Bryant, Tyriqe Jackson and DeAngelo Noid, but the Mustangs scored the final five points of the half to force a 22-all tie. Gatling hit from the baseline and Vick added a steal, layup and free throw.
The Mustangs got a three-point play and a 3-point shot from Vick to open the third quarter, but the Jackrabbits stayed within striking distance. Hale and Vick led CAC to a 38-31 advantage with 2:08 left in the period, but Lonoke got buckets from Noid and Bryant to pull within 38-35 heading into the fourth quarter.
The Jackrabbits opened the fourth quarter with the hot hand, reeling off seven straight points (E’Shawn Brown, Braidon Bryant, Noid and Tony Bryant). From 2:08 of the third until 5:55 of the fourth, the Jackets went on an 11-0 run that set the tone for the finish.
“I think we’re starting to come together,” Campbell said. “Practices have been extremely competitive, and even though things didn’t go well (against Baptist), there were definitely things the guys could see and understand that we are making progress and moving in the right direction.
“I’m proud of them. When the guys feel like afterward there was a total team effort, that’s a good thing. It was definitely a team effort (against CAC). A lot of guys contributed, and that definitely made it a team win.”