Tuesday, December 06, 2011

SPORTS >> Devils pull away from Memphis-Arlington

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville Red Devils dominated the paint and the boards in winning its Battle of the Border Showcase game against Memphis-Arlington at Hall High School in Little Rock on Saturday.

Jacksonville out-rebounded Arlington High 32-13 and got 30 points from its two starting post players to earn a 60-48 win.

Rebounding has been one of the major points of emphasis during Jacksonville’s practices. Jacksonville coach Vic Joyner liked what he saw Saturday.

“For the most part we did an outstanding job boxing out,” Joyner said. “We don’t want to give people second shots, and we want to crash the boards offensively. It’s good to see the kids taking the coaching. It’s really pleasing to see the fruits of your labor and see the kids responding like they did.”

Both teams got off to a slow start. Jacksonville wasn’t hitting its shot attempts and Arlington could scarcely get any, especially inside.

The Red Devils’ defense limited the Tigers to just three shots from inside the three-point line in the first quarter. Even with the great defense, Jacksonville led just 11-9 at the end of one quarter.

“We thought both teams would take a feeling out process,” Joyner said. “Kind of like a boxing match. They don’t know teams from Arkansas. We don’t know how they play. We figured it would be like that and told the kids in pregame not to panic if that happens. Once that first quarter was over and they got the feel of what they were doing, we settled in and just played the game.”

Jacksonville turned on the pressure to start the second quarter and took control of the game. The Red Devils scored the first eight points of the frame to take an 18-9 lead, forcing Arlington coach Don Deaton to call timeout with 5:39 left in the half.

Post player Tirrell Brown led the way in the first quarter with six points. In the second, 6-foot-6 Dustin House came off the bench to drop in four of the Red Devils eight in the first few minutes.

“We’re going to make a concerted effort to throw the ball in there to the bigs,” Joyner said. “As long as those guys are being effective, we’re going to keep throwing the ball in there. Plus, we’re going to try to take advantage of our strengths and other team’s weaknesses. We felt like we had an advantage inside against that team so we wanted to commit to that.”

Jacksonville never could entirely get rid of the pesky Tigers. After taking a 26-16 lead into halftime, Jacksonville stretched the lead to 36-21 with three minutes left in the third quarter, and appeared to be on its way to running away with the win. But Arlington came back with a 9-2 run to trim the margin to eight points. Dewayne Waller hit a shot just before the buzzer to make it 40-30 at the end of three.

Jacksonville recommitted to going inside in the fourth quarter and kept Arlington from making another serious run. Brown scored half of his game-high 16 points in the final period.

While the Red Devil big men did their job, it took guards to get them the ball. Joyner was pleased with how his perimeter players stuck to the game plan, especially point guard Justin McCleary.

“Justin had his best game so far at point guard,” Joyner said. “He ran his team, got us into our sets. He only scored six points, but he accounted for about 20.”

McCleary finished the game with seven assists and four steals.

Waller finished with 13 and Xavier Huskey scored 10 for Jacksonville, which improved to 3-1. Arlington dropped to 5-2 with the loss.

Anthony Cole and Ryan Townes each scored 14 for the Tigers.

Little Rock earned a sweep over the Memphis schools in the three-game event. Little Rock Hall beat Memphis-East 79-72. Little Rock Parkview hammered Memphis-Mitchell 72-29.

The Red Devils are scheduled to play in the Wampus Cat Invitational in Conway that began last night. Due to some late cancellations, Jacksonville received a first-round bye, and doesn’t play until 5:30 p.m. Friday when it faces the winner between Fayetteville and North Pulaski.