Tuesday, February 22, 2011

SPORTS >>Jacksonville slams door on Marion

Leader sports editor

Jacksonville is in the middle of a tough run, but so far it hasn’t been as tough on the Red Devils as the run they turned in to beat Marion 61-55 at the Devils Den on Friday.

Before a packed house, with people being turned away at the door, Jacksonville posted a 14-0 third-quarter run to beat the Patriots and moved into first place in the 6A-East Conference.

“There were a lot of people from all over the state. I saw some people from northwest Arkansas,” Jacksonville coach Vic Joyner said of the crowd and energized atmosphere.

Marion responded with a 9-0 run but could get no closer than six as the Red Devils, facing three games in four days this week, held on.

“We didn’t have to press them a lot,” Joyner said. One, they’re too quick; they’re too good to trap and they play too many people so you’re not going to wear them down and so we had to out-execute them and try to be patient.”

The biggest adjustment Joyner made at halftime was to point out the four three-pointers Marion’s Tevin Lewis made in the first half.

“No. 15 had hit four threes,” Joyner said. “And that’s what I wrote on the board, ‘15’ as big as I could and put a circle around it, and 15 didn’t score another basket the second half.

“If he didn’t hit those four threes early on in that game, I felt we could have got out on them earlier.”

Jacksonville’s run extended a two-point lead to 46-30 with 1:38 left in the third.

Joyner said the Red Devils, who won the 2009 6A state tournament, have gotten used to a big-game atmosphere and haven’t been fazed as their notoriety has increased this season.

“A lot of these kids have already been there,” Joyner said. “That’s the beauty of it. A lot of them have been in that atmosphere a couple years in a row.

“A lot of them hadn’t. You’ve got to get them used to being there. We’re going to take it as another game.”

Raheem Appleby led Jacksonville (20-3, 8-3) and all scorers with 20 points, with five assists and three steals.

Joyner said he has been urging other players to get in on the offense and Justin McCleary and Jamison Williams delivered with 10 points each.

“Raheem is doing what Raheem does,” Joyner said. “The other guys are picking their moments and trying to get more aggressive. We have guys taking more shots than we had, that’s the good thing.

“Hopefully they’ll make some of them but we have guys taking more shots and that’s what we want; other people being comfortable to shoot the ball in big moments.”

Warren Boyd led Marion (15-9, 5-7) with 15 points.

“We had some turnovers that got them back in the game but we held our own,” Joyner said.

Jacksonville and Little Rock Parkview have identical conference records but Jacksonville would hold the tiebreaker for a conference championship because it swept Parkview this year.

Jacksonville played a regularly scheduled game at West Memphis on Tuesday, and then plays host to Searcy in a makeup tonight before playing host to Mountain Home in another scheduled game Friday.

The Searcy game was postponed from Feb. 11 because of winter weather affecting most of the state. It marked the second time Jacksonville has had to play makeup games in a compressed schedule this year.

Jacksonville had games on Feb. 14-15 at defending 6A state champion Little Rock Hall and at home against Jonesboro.

“As long as other teams are in the same situation it won’t hurt you,” Joyner said. “Searcy, they’ll be playing a three-game week too. Mountain Home, the ones we have to play, they’re playing a three-game week just like we are.”