After a 48-35 win over rival eStem in the final game of the regular season last week, Lonoke’s Lady Jackrabbits earned the No. 2 seed for this week’s 2-4A District Tournament at Riverview.
Lonoke opened the district tournament Tuesday against No. 7 Heber Springs. The winner secured a berth in the Class 4A East Regional at the Gina Cox Center next week and moved on to play the survivor of No. 3 Riverview against No. 6 Helena-West Helena Central in Thursday’s 6:30 p.m. semifinal.
The top half of the bracket includes Central Arkansas Christian, ranked fifth overall and atop Class 4A, according to Sunday’s Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, against the winner of Monday’s play-in game between eighth-seeded Stuttgart and No. 9 Baptist Prep.
That winner advanced to Thursday’s 4 p.m. semifinal against the survivor of No. 4 eStem against No. 5 Southside Batesville.
The district championship is set for 6 p.m. Saturday with the consolation game (for regional seeding purposes) scheduled for 3 p.m.
“It’s a one-game shot, and we’re staring at Heber Springs,” Lonoke coach Heath Swiney said Sunday. “We have to go play. We got a tough 7 seed. In the other conferences, there’s no telling what they’d get — maybe a 3.”
The Lady Panthers entered the tournament 12-11.
“You play for a one-game shot, and you’re hosting the regional tournament,” Swiney said. “That probably adds a little bit of pressure, but this is what you play your tournaments for, all those games in the non-conference when you’re playing bigger schools — you’re getting ready for this.
“Win one and then you can start worrying about seeding (for the regional), but until then we’re just worried about winning one.”
He said he expected his team to be healthy this week. Arius McClain tweaked a hamstring last week in the season finale agianst eStem, but Swiney said she practiced Friday and should be ready to go this week.
“I think we’re where we need to be,” he said.
Against eStem last week (at Lonoke after the game had to be rescheduled from Tuesday because of weather), Lonoke settled things with an 11-4 second quarter. After leading after the first quarter, 13-11, the Lady Jackrabbits built their halftime lead to 24-15 and extended it to 37-22 after three quarters.
“We actually pushed the lead to nine points in the second quarter, and (senior) Keiunna (Walker) was on the bench with foul trouble,” Swiney said. “The other kids really stepped up during that time. That got us the 2 seed.