Wednesday, February 14, 2007

SPORTS>>Devils shoot Mustangs out of top-ranked saddle

Leader sports editor

An improbable shot from an unlikely shooter started an unbridled celebration Friday night in the Devils Den at Jacksonville High School. Jacksonville sophomore Antwan Lockhart banked in a turnaround jumper from about 15 feet out as the buzzer sounded, lifting the Red Devils to a 55-53 victory over No. 1 ranked Forrest City, and giving them a crucial win in the log-jammed 6A-East standings.

Lockhart’s basket was his first of the game and completed an excellent shooting display by the Red Devils in the final period.
The Mustangs led for 31 of the 32 minutes, but never could put any significant distance between themselves and Jacksonville. Jacksonville’s only other lead came midway through the first quarter at 13-10, but it was short-lived.

Although Jacksonville barely led in the game, it dominated the fourth quarter. The Red Devils outscored the Mustangs 19-12 in the final frame and hit four of their last five shots. Meanwhile, the Jacksonville defense held Forrest City to three of 12 shooting in the fourth, and to just 24 percent on the night. “We D’d up like we had been earlier in the year,” Jacksonville coach Vic Joyner said. “We didn’t play that hard against Marion and it got us beat, but they came out and got in some peoples pockets and shut ‘em down.”

With the game tied at 53-53, both teams had a shot at winning. Forrest City’s Kellon Bowman drove past the Jacksonville defense following a Mustang timeout, but missed the layup when he tripped on the way to the basket. The Red Devils rebounded with 23 seconds remaining. Jacksonville senior Damien Akins missed at the other end of the court, but chased down the long rebound. Forrest City’s Marcus Britt knocked the ball away near midcourt, but couldn’t catch up to it before it rolled out of bounds.

Norvel Gabriel threw the inbound pass to Lockhart, who took one dribble to the line and banked in the game winner. Two of Forrest City’s three Division I signees had decent games, but the most heralded, Marcus Britt, was shut down. Britt, who had been sick the week leading up to the game, finished with just four points and no field goals. Kelson Stewart controlled the action early, scoring 15 points in the first half, but finished with just five more.

Stephon Weaver added 14 for Forrest City, who dropped to 19-3 overall and 8-1 in conference play. The Mustangs are now tied with Jonesboro for first place. Seniors led the way for Jacksonville. Kajuan Watson hit three treys for most of his team-high 16 points. LaMarcus Trask finished with 12 and Akins totaled 10. Jacksonville improved to 10-10 and 4-6.
The Lady Red Devils fell to 1-9 in league play with a 62-38 loss. The Lady Mustangs improved to 7-2 with the win and remain in a tie for second place with Searcy.

Slow starts continue to be the downfall of the Lady Devils. Forrest City scored the first 16 points of the game before Jacksonville started playing. From that point, the Lady Devils outscored Forrest City 16-15 to go into halftime down 31-16.
With the bad start, Jacksonville couldn’t afford to allow another run, but that’s what happened late in the third. The Lady Mustangs’ lead grew to as much as 27 early in the final period.

Jacksonville went to Sylvan Hills last night, and will host West Memphis Friday.