Tuesday, November 15, 2011

SPORTS >> Lady Devils top Phillies in Pine Bluff

Leader sportswriter

The Jacksonville Lady Red Devils were victorious in their 2011-12 debut in the first round of the Pine Bluff tournament against the hosting Phillies 68-47 on Monday.

The Lady Devils trailed 27-22 at halftime, but came out with improved focus and defensive pressure to start the second half.

“We got off to a sluggish start,” Lady Red Devils coach Katrina Mimms said. “We got into some foul trouble, we didn’t handle the ball well and we missed some easy shots. Second half, we picked up our defensive pressure and played with more intensity.”

Junior Jessica Jackson led the way for Jacksonville with 18 points and 13 rebounds while sophomore guard Tiffany Smith added 14 points, including four three-pointers.

“She’s defiantly a spot-up outside shooter,” Mimms said of Smith. “When she gets going, it sparks everyone up when she hits a three.”

Junior post player Nichole Bennett also had 16 points, 10 of which came in the fourth quarter with assistance from freshman point guard Shakyla Hill. She got good penetration in the second half, and Pine Bluff began to counter with extra defensive pressure. That opened things up for Bennett inside, as the Lady Red Devils further stretched a 44-33 lead at the end of three quarters in the final eight minutes.

“We had a little bit of those first-game jitters,” Mimms said. “We just picked it up. “We played more aggressively, and we played smarter in the second half.”

The Lady Red Devils will resume tournament play in Pine Bluff on Thursday against Marianna while the Phillies take on Dumas in the round-robin formatted tournament. Saturday is the final day for the tournament, with Jacksonville taking on Dumas and Pine Bluff taking on Marianna.