Tuesday, January 17, 2012

SPORTS >> JHS girls run past Lions for East win

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville Lady Red Devils got in the win column in conference play on Tuesday with a decisive 72-36 victory over the Searcy Lady Lions. The Lady Red Devils enjoyed one of their best shooting performances of the season, and were able to force several Searcy turnovers in the mercy-rule victory.

“Defensively, I thought we made some mistakes early, but we executed the game plan,” Jacksonville coach Katrina Mimms said. “We wanted to make it a fast-paced game because we knew Searcy didn’t have much depth. We were able to do that and play the tempo we wanted.”

Jacksonville (11-3, 1-2) didn’t have to wait until Searcy wore down to begin pulling away. The defensive pressure paid dividends early and often, and the Lady Red Devils were in command from beginning to end.

Guards Sacha Richardson and Shakayla Hill ruthlessly hindered Searcy’s ball handlers, and most of the turnovers turned into buckets or trips to the free-throw line.

Richardson also contributed from outside offensively, nailing two three pointers.

Three-point specialist Tiffany Smith also got in on the action, hitting three three-pointers, as did junior guard Jessica Jackson. Those are things Mimms has been waiting to see.

“We shot the ball extremely well,” Mimms said. “Sascha stepped up and hit two threes, Jackson hit three. Tiffany has been a little hesitant and when she hesitates she doesn’t shoot as well. She didn’t hesitant this time and she knocked most of hers down. Those are all things we needed.”

Jacksonville also hit all 13 of its free-throw attempts. But more than good outside or free-throw shooting, the Lady Devils got something else it needed badly.

“We needed all those things to happen for us, but we needed a good win like that more than anything,” Mimms said. “Our dampers were down a little bit after starting with those two losses. To go out and execute like we did, to shoot like we did, and for it to pay off with a big win was something we really needed to happen.”

Jacksonville was also solid on the inside. Post player Nicole Bennett tied Jackson for leading-scorer honors. They had 13 points each. Mercedes Whitley led Searcy (5-9, 1-2) with 14 points while McKenna Smith added 11 for the Lady Falcons.

The Lady Devils hosted Jonesboro on Tuesday and will host Marion on Friday.