Friday, December 09, 2011

SPORTS >> Depth not where it should be for Devils

Special to The Leader

The Jacksonville Red Devils showed dominance in the paint through all four quarters as they out-rebounded Bentonville 30-13, winning its first game of the John Stanton Wampus Cat Invitational on Thursday night at Conway High School.

All five starters for Jacksonville looked impressive on both sides of the court, but other role players coming off the bench stepped in as well as the Red Devils’ ran over the Tigers 56-35.

Although some of the role players played well, Jacksonville coach Vic Joyner would like to see other guys contribute.

“My first seven or eight I’ll say are coming on, but we’ve got to get some more depth,” Joyner said. “The 6A is so grueling and so tough that we have to get some more guys stepping up and ready to play.”

Jacksonville got off to a good start as they jumped out to a quick 9-2 lead before Bentonville called a timeout.

Jacksonville’s defense has often been press heavy this season.

Bentonville’s quick, ball-handling guards have shown as of late that they don’t have a problem beating a press defense.

“We didn’t want to press them, and let them break the press,” Joyner said. “I saw on breaking the press they’re pretty good, and we just wanted to play our best man-to-man defense and just challenge them.”

The Red Devils scored the first six points of the second quarter, but after that both sides scored eight points each to make the score 28-16 going into the half.

Red Devil senior post player Tirrell Brown scored eight of his 10 points in the first half, and junior point guard Justin McCleary did a good job of feeding his big men early while getting the offense in rhythm. McCleary finished with nine points and three assists, scoring seven of those points in the first half.

Despite a 39-25 lead after three quarters, Joyner wasn’t comfortable with his team’s play.

“We’ve got a lot of kids not playing focused,” Joyner said. “A lot of the kids are not where we need them to be. They have to catch up. We executed pretty good for the most part, but we have some kids that we’re depending on who are not showing up right now.”

Jacksonville showed a lot of different looks defensively in the fourth while switching various players in and out of the game.

The Tigers did all they could to catch up, but the harder they tried, the more they turned the ball over against Jacksonville’s man defense.

Brown’s 10 points led the Red Devils while three other Jacksonville players scored nine, including McCleary, Aaron Smith and Dewayne Waller, who scored all of his points in the second half.

Post player Nick Smith led the Tigers with 15 points and five rebounds. Junior guard Austin Heard had seven.

Joyner believes his team’s performance over the next several games will say a lot about who is and isn’t ready to step up.

“We’ve got five games to see who’s ready to play before conference starts,” Joyner said.