Here’s what you missedin Garland County sportsduring the week of Jan. 5

Lakeside's Lauren Latham instructs future Rams' volleyball players during Wednesday's National Girls and Women in Sports Day event at Lakeside Sports Complex. (The Sentinel-Record/Lance Brownfield)
Lakeside's Lauren Latham instructs future Rams' volleyball players during Wednesday's National Girls and Women in Sports Day event at Lakeside Sports Complex. (The Sentinel-Record/Lance Brownfield)

Garland County takes full advantage of National Signing Day as several local student-athletes sign to continue their playing career at the college level, while Fountain Lake's Paige Davis reaches the 1,000-point scoring milestone in basketball.

Monday

Both McPeek winners may run again at track

The Southwest Stakes winner may be seen again, trainer Ken McPeek said, in the March 30 Arkansas Derby, Oaklawn's oldest and richest race.

McPeek trained both Mystik Dan, eight-length winner of the $800,000 Grade 3 Southwest, and Band of Gold, a substitute starter in the $150,000 Martha Washington Saturday before an estimated crowd of 25,500. The latter horse may reappear as early as Feb. 24 in the Grade 3 Honeybee at the track, the trainer said.

With a stakes double for jockey Brian Hernandez Jr., the McPeek pair each gained 20 qualifying points for Grade 1 races in May at Churchill Downs. McPeek has won neither the Kentucky Oaks nor Kentucky Derby, totaling four seconds in races that each has its 150th running next.

Tuesday

Off the court with Lakeside's Sam Grose

Lakeside High School's Sam Grose -- a senior member of the Rams basketball team, who currently has the highest 3-point shooting percentage on the team at 37% -- has been described by his head coach Eddie Lamb as an excellent student-athlete.

Gross recently met with The Sentinel-Record to give people a glimpse into what he is like off the basketball court.

The right-handed shooting guard said the coaches at Lakeside always have encouraged him, for which he is grateful.

Wednesday

Consolation prize for 2YO champion

The Fierceness bandwagon might be reduced after his 3-year-old debut, but the male juvenile champion still leads the Kentucky Derby points standings compiled by host track Churchill Downs.

Though third in the Grade 3 Holy Bull Saturday at Gulfstream Park in Florida, Fierceness gained 6 points for 36 total, breaking a first-place tie with Track Phantom. Holy Bull winner Hades, trained by Joe Orseno, garnered 20 points and is tied for fourth with Uncle Heavy, the Grade 3 Withers victor Saturday at Aqueduct in New York.

Third, with 21 points, is Mystik Dan, eightlength winner Saturday of the Grade 3 $800,000 Southwest at Oaklawn for trainer Ken McPeek. Runner-up Just Steel, trained by Hall of Famer and four-time Derby winner Wayne Lukas, is tied for ninth with 15 points.

Singer, sportsman Toby Keith, 62, dies

Singer and sportsman Toby Keith will be remembered as a country-music giant even if the average record-buyer is stumped to name any horses he raced.

Keith, whose Dream Walkin' Farms won an Oaklawn stake and two Grade 3 events, died Monday of stomach cancer at 62, his family reported Tuesday.

Sebastian County won the 2008 Northern Spur at Oaklawn as a 3-year-old with Perry Compton aboard for trainer Don Von Hemel. The Hennessy product ran third in the '08 Mountain Valley and posted two seconds here in 2011 at age 6 before his last race at Fonner Park in Nebraska.

Last week's close win motivates NPC Monday night at the Kettle

National Park College earned its No. 1 ranking in NJCAA Division 2 with its perfect 20-0 record. The Nighthawks' reward is a target on their back.

Sophomore Nakavieon White and Patrick Punch provided the offense early, and the Nighthawks' defense did the rest Monday night at the Kettle in leading NPC past Arkansas State University-Mid-South, 88-76.

"We learned a ton of stuff in El Dorado last week against South Arkansas," said NPC coach Dillon Hargrove. "We couldn't make our shots, and won by two points. Tonight was different! We made shots, and for ten minutes played our best defense this season."

Off the court with Lake Hamilton's Laney Hunter

Lake Hamilton High School senior guard Laney Hunter has been an impact player for the Lady Wolves' basketball team this season. She has been described by head coach Blake Condley as a leader both on and off the court.

Hunter recently met with The Sentinel-Record to give people a glimpse into what she is like off the basketball court. The right-handed athlete said teamwork is everything.

Thursday

Oaklawn winner moves up in Derby polls

Admittedly filtering his selections, Bloodhorse writer Byron King rated juvenile champion Fierceness higher than the horse that beat the 2-year-old champion Saturday.

King tabbed Fierceness second and Holy Bull upsetter Hades 10th in his weekly poll of Kentucky Derby contenders.

In his seasonal debut at Gulfstream Park, Fierceness had a rough trip for trainer Todd Pletcher and owner Mike Repole. Now comes word that Pletcher-trained Locked, also a Grade 1 winner at 2, will miss his scheduled start in a G3 prep Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs.

The Cobras' Paige Davis nets 1,000 career points

Fountain Lake senior basketball player Paige Davis reached the 1,000-point milestone this season for the Cobras, doing it in only three years.

"I've had thousand-point scorers when I was in Jessieville and other places, but they all did it within a four-year time period," head coach Matt Carter said Tuesday. "She has done this, she scored 1,078 points in three years and she still has three or four more games left this season."

Davis said she never aimed for the milestone, but is proud of herself for the accomplishment.

NBA Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen gives J'Ville youth basketball a shout out

After winning their championship 29-10, the fifth grade Jessieville Lions basketball team (8-1) received a surprise video message from NBA Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen, congratulating them on their victory Saturday.

The video can be seen on Jessieville School District's Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/reel/1956694578058061.

"You still have got seven more years of basketball, so you have spoiled your fans now." Pippen said in the video. "They expect nothing less than a championship going forward. Good luck to you guys as you continue your journey. Hopefully one day I will see you in the NBA."

Wolves keep Rams at arm's length in rivalry road win

The Lakeside Rams hosted the Lake Hamilton Wolves at Lakeside Sports Complex Tuesday, with the Wolves pulling out a 73-64 win.

Senior forwards Ty Robinson, of Lake Hamilton, and A.J. Howard, of Lakeside, showed why they are captains on their respective teams. Both players showed next level basketball skills down the stretch.

The score with 1:11 to play was 66-61, Lake Hamilton, as the Wolves turned the heavy press on in the final minute to ice the game. Lake Hamilton head coach Scotty Pennington spoke about the final minute of play.

Lady Wolves howl to victory in electric atmosphere at Lakeside

Lakeside Sports Complex was packed Tuesday night as the Lakeside girls hosted Lake Hamilton in a rivalry rematch that saw the Lady Wolves win it, 56-55, in the final seconds of the game.

In the last meeting between the two teams, on Jan. 5, at Wolf Arena, Lake Hamilton came out swinging to take the Lady Rams down 74-44. Tuesday night's escape allowed the Wolves to extend their win streak to six games.

With 40 seconds to go, Lakeside had the ball, down 54-53. Lakeside head coach Jay Williams and Lake Hamilton head coach Blake Condley were coaching their squads hard as the two Garland County rivals got into their transition offenses. Both teams had at least another possession to convert.

Friday

Rams' Wolf trades blue and gold for purple and silver, commits to UCA

Senior wide receiver Kyler Wolf signed his commitment letter to play football for the University of Central Arkansas at the Lakeside Performing Arts Center Wednesday.

Wolf was highly recruited for the division II level of National Collegiate Athletic Association, however, a single division I level scholarship offer came from UCA's Sugar Bears and that is where Wolf decided to call home for the next four years.

Head coach Garren Rockwell said playing for UCA suits Wolf with a pass heavy offense. Rockwell said Wednesday was a big day for the Rams football program.

Arnold brings strength to Russellville, signs with Wonder Boys football

Lakeside middle linebacker Brady Arnold signed to play college football for Arkansas Tech's Wonder Boys at the Lakeside Performing Arts Center, Wednesday.

Head coach Garren Rockwell said Arnold's singing was special. Rockwell said everyone is not as fortunate as the three Lakeside football players who were signing letters of intent.

"One of my personal favorites, I got to be biased because I met my wife there; my first child and I graduated from there at Arkansas Tech," the head coach said jokingly. "He is going to sign with a Lakeside wooden pen, once a Ram always a Ram."

Purifoy signs national letter of intent with Red Wolves

Lakeside 6-5 senior tight end Skylar Purifoy signed his national letter of intent to play football for Arkansas State University Wednesday.

Friends, coaches and family gathered around at the Lakeside Performing Arts Center as head coach Garren Rockwell spoke about Purifoy as a player and a young man. He said they were all part of the Lakeside Ram football family.

"You have got to be happy when people stay in state," Rockwell said. "Me being from Texas, I left but I tell people all the time, 'Arkansas and Texas man the only difference is they are two different states.' There is just a lot of great football here, just as good as Texas. We have got Arkansas State where Skylar is going."

Mideast trip next for Skelly: Asmussen

With seven straight victories, including six at Oaklawn, Skelly gets a chance to prove he's more than a horse for the course.

That sigh of relief heard is from opposing trainers weary of challenging the 5-year-old gelding, his last two wins coming at the current meeting. Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, no stranger to shipping horses to the Middle East, is pointing to the Grade 3 $1.5 million Riyadh Dirt Sprint Feb. 24 in Saudi Arabia.

If all goes well, Asmussen said, Skelly would return to Oaklawn for a title defense in the G3 $500,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap April 13. "He'll go and come back," Oaklawn's 12-time training champion and current leader said. "I don't want to miss the Count Fleet with him at Oaklawn."

Lakeside volleyball celebrates girls, women in sports

In celebration of National Girls and Women in Sports Day Wednesday, Lakeside High School head volleyball coach Rhonda Thigpen held a special clinic to teach younger students about the day's significance.

"Today, I have two of my players that are on my MTXC team that went to state, they're going to speak to the girls from the intermediate school," Thigpen said.

"We'll talk about girls in sports. They'll talk to them, motivate them, and hopefully show excitement. Then we'll let the children try some volleyball skills because that's my sport."

Saturday

Troy's Rhodes signs to play DII football

Hot Springs Trojans' Octavious Rhodes signed his national letter of intent to play college football for Northwest Missouri State, Wednesday.

Trojans head coach Darrell Burnett gave an opening speech at the school's indoor practice facility in front of friends, family and staff. He said Rhodes is a gifted athlete.

"If he just continues to go the route he is going, there is no telling where he will be," Burnett said.

Brogdon eager to catch TD against OBU

Hot Springs World Class High School senior T.J. Brogdon signed his letter of intent to play college football for the Henderson State Reddies, Wednesday.

Trojans head coach Darrell Burnett had four young men sign to different colleges at the ceremony held at the indoor practice facility.

"T.J. Brogdon, you have to stay on him but he is a good kid," Burnett said of Brogdon. "He gets down on himself, he just does not know how great of a young man he is."

Hawkins trades black and gold for red and blue

The Hot Springs Trojans' senior tight end Derrion Hawkins signed his commitment to play college football for Lyon College Wednesday at the school's indoor practice facility.

Head football coach Darrell Burnett said Hawkins will be 'dang good' at the next level.

Lyon College competes at the National Collegiate Athletics Association division III level in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference. The Lyon Scots are coached by Chris Douglas.

Williams ready to sack Reddies, signs to OBU

Hot Springs World Class High School senior Kendall Williams, on Wednesday, signed his letter of intent to play defense for the Ouachita Baptist University Tigers.

Head coach of the Hot Springs Trojans Darrell Burnett gave a brilliant speech for Williams and his three teammates who all signed at the indoor practice facility.

Williams, a multi-sport athlete, is also a star basketball player but chose football for the next chapter in his life.

Asmussen colt seeks third stakes win

Valentine Candy today seeks an Oaklawn stakes hat trick that didn't exist when he was born Feb. 14, 2021.

Besides giving himself an early birthday present in the $150,000 Ozark, the Justify colt can cement his claim as the top 3-year-old male sprinter on the grounds with his third victory of the nine-week-old meeting. With stablemates Otto the Conqueror and Carbone on the Road to the Triple Crown, Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen keeps Valentine Candy on the sprint circuit like he did Mitole, Gunite and others freshly turned 3.

Oaklawn racegoers observed Valentine Candy's progress from 5 1/2 to six furlongs in $150,000 stakes late in his juvenile campaign. The Renaissance victory by 1 1/2 lengths Dec. 31 came after some traffic problems on the turn and upper stretch, having kicked clear by 6 3/4 lengths in the Advent opening day, Dec. 8.

Sunday

LH's Baber to wrestle at OBU

PEARCY -- Lake Hamilton High School senior Hunter Baber put pen to paper Wednesday at Wolf Arena, signing his letter of intent to wrestle at Ouachita Baptist University this fall.

Baber, who plans on studying kinesiology, said he is very excited about continuing his wrestling career as a Tiger.

"Visiting the campus and the coaches there, and even the current wrestlers, they were all really nice," he said. "And then just the nice facilities... it looked like a place I wanted to go to."

McCain to play football at Harding

PEARCY -- Lake Hamilton offensive lineman Lucas McCain on Wednesday signed his letter of intent to continue his football playing career at Harding University this fall.

The 6-4, 275-pound senior said he is excited about playing for the national champion Bison.

"I like Harding a lot and they were really interested in me, so I felt like I belonged there," he said. "When I went to the campus, it felt really nice; it felt like home. It felt like another place I could go to just to learn something new."

LH golfer Horton signs with HSU

PEARCY -- Brode Horton, a senior golfer at Lake Hamilton High School, signed his letter of intent Wednesday to continue playing golf this fall at Henderson State University.

Horton, who plans to go into sports management, said he is "stoked" about being a Reddie.

"At first I didn't really think that I was going to be able to play on a high collegiate level like Henderson," he said. "I thought I would just walk on at like a (Division III), maybe (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) school, but then my game took off and I was able to gain the spot and I'm really excited."

Springer signs to OWU volleyball

PEARCY -- Lake Hamilton senior volleyball player Lanie Springer will be playing volleyball at the next level this fall, putting pen to paper on Wednesday at Wolf Arena to play at Oklahoma Wesleyan University.

"I'm very excited," she said after signing. "It's been a dream since I was little. Like, I can't even remember how young. I've always wanted to play at the college level. And for it to actually happen is just unbelievable."

Springer, who plans to study nursing, said she really fell in love with the environment at the college in Bartlesville, Okla.

LH's Higginbotham signs with CBU

PEARCY -- Lake Hamilton's Jack Higginbotham signed his letter of intent to play golf at Central Baptist University this fall during the Wolves' signing day ceremony at Wolf Arena Wednesday.

"I'm thrilled," he said. "You know, I've had a lot of opportunities to go visit a ton of colleges, but really Coach (Lyle) Middleton stuck out to me. We had a really good talk about playing and about where I would sit on the team if I came as a freshman. And, you know, that's how I really made my decision."

Higginbotham has played golf for most of his life. He notes that his family has a long history in the game, as both his mother -- Lake Hamilton head golf coach Brandi Higginbotham -- and his grandfather always played a lot.

Mud in your eye: Asmussen colt wins third stake

Since arriving in Hot Springs, Ricardo Santana Jr. has owned what horsemen call the "three path" at Oaklawn.

When one of the jockey's mounts gets into contention three or four lanes off the fence, Santana more often than not can be found on the best horse. He's been stuck on eight riding championships at the track for a few years, and no longer is the first choice of longtime client Steve Asmussen -- but when that combination is clicking, the race many times is for second.

Regaining the mount Saturday, Santana kept Valentine Candy out of trouble for its third stakes win of the meeting in the $150,000 Ozark for 3-year-olds. Coming off the turn in full stride, the Justify colt scored a hat trick in Oaklawn stakes not around when he was foaled Feb. 14, 2021.

Apprentice rider, 19, scores Oaklawn double

A trainer whose career victories total in five figures and a jockey who after Friday needs more than one hand to count his wins formed major storylines at Oaklawn.

Joshua Bealmear, at 19, is on the Oaklawn scoreboard six weeks after scoring his first career riding victory at the track. A riding double for Michael Hewitt and Chris Hartman gave Bealmear six career winners. Hewitt-trained Mahomey paid $33.60 in the sixth and Notorious Sixohtwo $14.40 in the eighth for Hartman, a past Oaklawn season leader. Bealmear made his career debut Nov. 30 at Turfway Park in his native Kentucky.

Five victories is an important number for apprentice riders in that they must pick up weight after previously getting 10 pounds off. Bealmear hence will ride with a 7-pound allowance, which he had in his second win Friday, until his career total reaches 35. If he gets to 40 a year before Dec. 30, the jockey gets 5 pounds off until that date.

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