Friday, January 20, 2012

SPORTS >> Lady Devil nails winner

Leader sports editor

The play started to go all wrong, then went incredibly right for the Jacksonville Lady Red Devils. Jacksonville sophomore Tiffany Smith was hovering around the three-point line during a scramble for a loose ball with seconds remaining and the score tied.

Junior Jessica Jackson scooped up the ball and found Smith standing all alone on the right wing. Smith took the pass as she squared to shoot, and nailed the three-pointer, giving the Lady Devils a 54-51 victory over Jonesboro Tuesday in the Devils’ Den.

Jonesboro guard Lara Marshall had just hit a three pointer that tied the game with about 14 seconds remaining. Jacksonville had timeouts left, but didn’t use them.

“I learned early on in the jamboree, with this bunch, don’t stop them,” Jacksonville coach Katrina Mimms said. “It’s better to let them play it out. They know their roles. They’re going to try to get it to Jessica. Tiff is going to be Tiff. Jessica got it out to her and she was wide open. She made a great shot.”

Smith’s shot went down with about six seconds left, but Jonesboro didn’t get the ball inbounds until about two seconds to go, which wasn’t enough time to get a good shot.

It was an error-filled game for Jacksonville. The Lady Devils repeatedly built leads of eight to 10 points, only to allow Jonesboro to get back to within five. Finally in the fourth quarter, the Lady Hurricane came all the way back to tie it with their last shot.

Usually reliable freshman point guard Shakayla Hill lost the ball twice late in the fourth quarter which Jonesboro turned into points during the comeback.

Hill wasn’t the only one turning it over, but Mimms was philosophical about her teams’ mistakes.

“You’re going to have bad games,” Mimms said. “Shakayla, she’s been a big help to this team. But she’s a freshman and she’s going to make mistakes at times. The way I look at it, if you can have one of your bad games and still get a win, I’ll take that.”

Jackson turned in another double-double, scoring 22 points and grabbing 10 rebounds to lead all players in both categories.

Smith’s game-winning three pointer was her fourth of the game in seven attempts. It was her second-straight four-three-pointer game. She hit four of five in Jacksonville’s win over Searcy last Friday.

“Tiff is shooting the ball with a lot of confidence,” Mimms said.

Smith also had five rebounds. Hill finished with seven points, six rebounds and two assists. Nichole Bennett scored six points and Sacha Richardson had five for the Lady Red Devils.

Jacksonville made 11 of 15 free-throw attempts.

The Lady Devils continued league play on Friday at home against Marion. They will travel to West Memphis on Tuesday.