Saturday, October 23, 2010

SPORTS>>Lady Red Devils grab final spot in state bracket

Leader sportswriter

The Jacksonville Lady Red Devils are state tournament bound for the fourth straight year.

Jacksonville edged out Little Rock Parkview for the final tournament seed from the 6A-East Conference. The Lady Red Devils earned the No. 6 seed out of the East, and will play Texarkana, the No. 3 seed out of the 6A-South Conference, at 6 p.m. Tuesday on Court 2 at host Benton High School.

The Lady Red Devils split with the Lady Patriots during the conference season and both teams finished 5-9, but Jacksonville had more points for the tiebreaker.

It is the first trip to the playoffs for coach Melissa Reeves since she led the Lady Devils to the tournament in 2007. She left the team for health reasons following the year and was replaced by Jacksonville alum Justine Rial, who took the Lady Red Devils to the state tournament both of her seasons.

Rial stepped down to focus on teaching and work on her masters degree, clearing the way for Reeves’ return.

“We’re very proud, and very excited,” Reeves said. “We have a lot of juniors and sophomores on our team, so it also speaks well to our future. Hopefully, we will do well on Tuesday.”

The Lady Red Devils opened 6A-East Conference play in early September with a home victory over upstart Searcy before losing their next five matches. They rebounded with a victory over West Memphis on Sept. 23 and swept matches the following week against Searcy and Little Rock Hall.

Jacksonville picked up its final conference victory two weeks ago against Parkview in a match that proved to be the deciding factor for the conference’s sixth seed.

Marion took the No. 1 seed out of the 6A-East with a 14-0 league mark. Jonesboro finished second at 12-2, with its only losses coming at the hands of Parkview.

Mountain Home ended up as the No. 3 seed, followed by Van Buren and Russellville, which earned its trip while competing in the 7A-Central Conference.

Marion will receive a first-round bye and will take on the winner of the match between South No. 4 seed Sheridan and East No. 5 seed Russellville on Wednesday at 4 p.m. Jonesboro is also exempt from first-round play, and will face the winner of the Texarkana-Jacksonville match. That will take place Wednesday at 6 p.m.

Mountain Home will play South No. 6 seed El Dorado.

In other first-round games, Van Buren will take on South No. 5 seed Little Rock Fair and Russellville will play South No. 4 seed Sheridan.

The tournament at Benton will wrap up on Thursday evening with two semifinal matches, while the 6A state championship will be decided at Bentonville High School on Saturday at 1 p.m.