Tuesday, January 11, 2011

SPORTS>>Jacksonville falls to Hall in first loss

Leader sports editor

Jacksonville cut too-tall Little Rock Hall down to size Friday night.

It just couldn’t cut the lead when it counted.

Defending state champion Hall escaped the Devils Den with a 45-43 victory in the 6A-East Conference opener, surviving a furious final minute in which Jacksonville missed a shot, a free throw and, ultimately, a desperation attempt from beyond halfcourt.

“The ball ultimately bounced our way but our guys played hard, I thought, all night,” Hall coach Jon Coleman said. “And I thought we were deserving of a break somewhere in there and it happened right at the end.”

It was the first loss for Jacksonville (11-1, 0-1).

“We had a chance, that’s basically all you want,” Jacksonville coach Vic Joyner said. “If Hall’s supposed to be the crème de la crème ofthe state, we’re right there with a chance and that’s all you want from your ballclub.”

The Red Devils tied it at 41 when Raheem Appleby made a jumper from the high post with 3:29 left.

The teams traded turnovers, and then Myles Taylor made a layup to give Hall the lead. Terrell Brown missed a hook shot for Jacksonville and Taylor scored from the low post to make it 45-41 with 1:32 to go.

After a Jacksonville timeout, Brown laid it in to pull the Red Devils within 45-43 with 1:04 remaining.

David Berete couldn’t get the ball over the center line against Jacksonville’s press as Hall turned it over on a 10-second violation.

Justin McCleary missed a bank shot but Jacksonville had possession when Berete fouled Appleby, knocking him down while going for the ball with 12.8 seconds left.

Appleby missed his first free throw and David Rivers rebounded for Hall. Jacksonville fouled twice to stop the clock and Berete missed a free throw with 8.5 seconds left.

McCleary got the rebound but Berete stole it away, drawing a foul from Jacksonville’s Xavier Huskey.

Berete missed again with 3.9 seconds left but the Red Devils only had time for McCleary’s missed shot from beyond the center line as time expired.

“It was a game of runs and I think our best run came going down the stretch,” Coleman said.

Jacksonville’s tallest everyday players are 6-3 while Hall had four starters over 6-4. Rivers is 6-7 and Taylor is 6-6, and the Warriors had Bobby Portis, 6-10, in reserve.

“We just challenged our kids to get out there and play,” Joyner said. “If they shoot a couple over your head or rebound a couple, it’s just a couple. Just box them out, that’s all we wanted to do, box them out.

“For the most part we just gave them one or two shots; they didn’t kill us on the boards like we thought they were going to do.”

Taylor had 14 points and 11 rebounds to lead Hall and Rivers scored 10 points. Appleby had 19 points to lead Jacksonville.

Hall made a push in the first half, going ahead 9-2 in the first quarter and 23-14 when Javan Perry made a three-pointer from the left wing with 3:42 left in the second.

Joyner called timeout, and then Jacksonville began to fight back.

The Red Devils closed within 26-21 when James Aikens got a steal and passed to Jamison Williams, who was trailing on the play and slammed in a two-handed dunk with 1:03 left.

“I called a timeout and made sure they understood to get that ball down inside,” Joyner said of the adjustment. “And they had to make something happen, not just throw it in there.”

Jacksonville got its first lead of the second half, 27-26, when Appleby made a jumper with 6:05 to go in the third quarter as part of a 12-2 Red Devils’ run.

It was no more than a five-point game the rest of the way, and Jacksonville’s last lead was 37-36 when Appleby opened the fourth quarter with a hook shot.

Berete made a reverse layup to give Hall a 38-37 lead with 6:40 remaining and the best Jacksonville could manage was to tie the score at 39 and 41.

“Playing here, this is one of the hardest venues to play in,” Coleman said.

“When you add coaching and basketball atmosphere and them coming in with a lot of confidence, there’s no way that you would think you’re going to come in and blow somebody else or anything like that.”

Jacksonville’s Tuesday night game with Little Rock Parkview, another contender in the 6A-East, was postponed and will be made up Feb. 1.