Wednesday, November 23, 2011

SPORTS >> Jacksonville ladies earn tourney title

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville Lady Red Devils picked up two more wins over the weekend, moving their record to 4-0 so far in the early portion of the season. On Friday night the Lady Devils cruised past Mills 64-46 in their home opener. On Saturday morning they took the floor in the finals of the Pine Bluff Invitational and beat Dumas 61-42.

The two wins marks the first 4-0 start for head coach Katrina Mimms since arriving at Jacksonville in 2006. Saturday’s win was also the Jacksonville girls first tournament championship since the 2001-2002 season.

“It’s been a pretty good first week,” Mimms said. “There’s still lots of things we could do better and are going to have to do better. Our conference is very strong, and we’re going to have to get better. But for this early, I’m pretty pleased with how we’re playing.”

Friday’s game wasn’t as close as the final score indicates. Jacksonville completely dominated from the opening tip, and the game was decided midway through the first quarter. By quarter’s end, Jacksonville led 26-2 and Mimms began subbing freely the rest of the way.

She sat all her starters for the whole second quarter and Mills outscored Jacksonville 13-8. That made it 34-15 at halftime, so Mimms adjusted her substitution process in the second half.

“I still wanted to use everybody, but I mixed the subs and starters more,” Mimms said. “I wanted to keep a ball handler on the floor.”

One of the things Mimms didn’t like about the opener against Marianna was how her squad allowed Marianna’s best scorer to get to the bucket and rack up over 30 points. Mills’ Jasmine Perkins got 20 points on Friday, but Mimms was much more pleased with how her squad handled Perkins.

“She got her 20, but she didn’t score at all in the first quarter when we were going all out,” Mimms said.

Sophomore guard Tiffany Smith led a balanced Jacksonville attack with 13 points. Junior guard and returning leading scorer Jessica Jackson scored 12 points in her first start of the season. Sacha Richardson added 11 and Coyja Hood added 10 for the Lady Devils.

Against Dumas, Jacksonville led just 17-15 at the end of the first quarter, but still jumped out to a big lead. It wasn’t until starters Shakayla Hill and Jackson got into foul trouble that the Lady Bobcats were able to come back to keep it close.

The Lady Red Devils got back on track to start the second quarter. Jacksonville outscored Dumas 35-13 over the next two periods to head into the fourth quarter in control of the game.

“The thing I liked most in both games was the way we came out,” Mimms said. “One of the things that disappointed me most in the first two games was that we didn’t come out with much intensity. We really picked that up and were ready to play from the start in the last two.”

Smith again led Jacksonville in scoring. She hit five three pointers in the game and finished with 17 points. Finding more scorers is one of the things Mimms was looking for. Last year teams focused on Jackson. She hopes her team continues to develop and eliminates that as a strategy for opposing teams.

“Getting three or four in double figures a night is what we’re looking for,” Mimms said. “We don’t want to just look for Jessica. People know she can score. We’ve made adjustments, and that’s what we want. We just have to keep working hard and keep improving.”