Tuesday, December 07, 2010

SPORTS >> Appleby making case for spotlight

Leader sportswriter

CONWAY – Jacksonville’s Raheem Appleby didn’t seem all that impressed by Sylvan Hills’ top college recruit Archie Goodwin.

At least it didn’t show in Appleby’s performance Monday night.

The Red Devils senior got his team rolling in the first quarter and led a defensive charge that kept the Bears searching for answers during a 68-52 Jacksonville victory in the first round of the John Stanton Wampus Cat Invitational at Buzz Bolding Arena.

Appleby scored 14 points in the first quarter and finished with 21 while Goodwin scored 20. But it was the halftime margin that told the tale.

Appleby outscored Goodwin 17-6 in the first two quarters and played sparingly during the fourth.

“I just think this much — I know they’re hollering about Archie Goodwin, but they forget Raheem Appleby ain’t a bad hand,” Jacksonville coach Victor Joyner said. “I don’t know whether or not Raheem is ranked in the nation, but if he’s not, he should be, because he’s a heck of a ball player.

“I thought Raheem came out and showed he’s a multi-talented kid, inside-outside, and I think he needs to be ranked in some of those polls.”

Appleby’s solid performance was only part of a Jacksonville attack that featured 13 players, 10 of whom scored. Post player Tirrell Brown and teammate Xavier Husky denied the Bears their trademark inside drives for the most part, while the Red Devils attacked from the inside out.

“I thought they all came out and played good team defense,” Joyner said. “That’s what we’re trying to stress, better team defense, and I thought they did a good job pretty much.”

Appleby’s hot hand was instantaneously apparent in the first quarter. He hit a pair of three-pointers in the first two minutes, and the Bears tried to respond by forcing shots.

That allowed the Red Devils to increase the margin to 23-12 after one quarter and 43-28 at halftime.

“We’re better shooters than we showed tonight,” Sylvan Hills coach Kevin Davis said. “We had opportunities to knock shots down and stay in the ballgame, and they wouldn’t fall.

“I think that was the tell-tale is that they were really hot early, coming off screens and knocking shots down. We were missing some wide-open looks.”

Appleby did not let up early in the third quarter. He faked a three-pointer to draw Trey Smith out of position and then drove the baseline for an open basket with 5:54 left in the third to put Jacksonville up 45-30.

The Red Devils picked up a defensive rebound and Appleby took it from the other side for a resounding dunk that fired up the small but vocal Jacksonville crowd.

Another missed opportunity for Sylvan Hills to another Red Devils’ dunk, this time from Jamison Williams to extend the lead to 49-30.

“We got out of sync,” Davis said. “I think we missed some early shots, we tried to get inside off the drive. Rather than rely on our teammates, rely on our offense, we went with too much individualism, and that gets you out of sync – throws your whole court out of balance.

“So now, not only do you have one guy out of sync, you have five out of sync.”

After Appleby’s concentrated scoring in the first quarter, the Red Devils spread out the load the rest of the way. Dewayne Walker put up a three-pointer in the first quarter and James Aikens and Justin McCleary also scored, but the rest was Appleby.

But Appleby turned into an assist specialist in the second quarter with passes to Williams and Aaron Smith, who scored five of his nine points in the second quarter.

Trey Smith hit a three-pointer in the first quarter and two more in the next period for Sylvan Hills for nine of his 15 points, but his teammates came up cold from the outside for the most part.

Goodwin finally scored from long distance with a minute left to play, but by then the Red Devils had wrapped things up and went into prevent mode.

Point guard Dion Patten added 12 points for Sylvan Hills.

For Jacksonville, Smith had nine points and Williams had eight.

Aikens and Husky added six points each.