Tuesday, January 25, 2011

SPORTS >> Red Devils fall to Pats in nailbiter

Leader sports editor

It’s too bad for Jacksonville there is no four-point shot.

Senior guard Raheem Apple-by, the Red Devils’ scoring leader, made a buzzer beating three-pointer at Marion on Friday night, but it wasn’t enough as the Patriots held on for a 67-66, 6A-East victory.

Appleby scored 35 points, the last three coming on his 50-footer as time expired. But thanks to a free throw by Marion’s Tevin Smith with 1.6 seconds to go, Appleby’s shot couldn’t tie it as the Patriots wisely stayed away and did not foul.

Marion (14-2, 4-0) overcame a 34-25 halftime deficit after it committed 10 turnovers inthe game’s first two quarters.

But the Patriots hung on to the ball better in the second half and got a 7-0 run spanning the third and fourth quarters for a 49-48 lead as it fought off Jacksonville to remain perfect in one of the state’s toughest conferences.

Jacksonville (12-2, 2-2) opened the year on an 11-game winning streak and took its first loss on Jan. 7 when defending state champion Little Rock Hall edged the Red Devils 45-43 in the conference opener at the Devils Den.

That game too went the distance as Jacksonville missed a shot, a free throw and a desparation three-pointer in the final minute.

Jacksonville played host to West Memphis on Tuesday night. The Blue Devils are classified 7A but playing in the 7A/6A-East this year after being moved up in the Arkansas Activities Association’s last round of reclassficiation.

Power rankings are being used to hopefully level the playing field but the system has been under fire by coaches.