Tuesday, February 07, 2012

SPORTS >> Hall whips Red Devils, wins again physically

Leader sports editor

Early in the second quarter, it appeared Jacksonville was going to avenge its last loss, a 65-52 loss to Little Rock Hall on Jan. 6. The Red Devils led 17-6 and Hall was reeling. Instead, it was the Warriors who made it a season sweep over the Red Devils, dominating the fourth quarter and pulling out a 47-43 victory in a defense-dominated game.

Hall’s Aaron Walton entered the game and changed it with his physical brand of defense, too physical at times for Jacksonville coach Vic Joyner’s liking. Joyner made it clear that he felt Hall was allowed too much contact, but that wasn’t his biggest concern after the game.

“We were just soft,” Joyner said. “They were coming out, picking us up at halfcourt. When they come out that high and get on you, you go by them. We weren’t doing that. We were picking up the dribble way out there in the corner. You can’t do that. That’s soft. That’s timid. They were aggressive and we were timid. That’s the bottom line.”

It was a game of runs for the first three quarters. Jacksonville opened with six straight that should’ve been eight, but Aaron Smith goal tended on a Justin McCleary fast break runner. Jacksonville post player Brandon Brockman scored the first bucket of the second quarter to give Jacksonville a 17-6 lead just second into the period, but Hall answered with six straight and Jacksonville got just two more points the rest of the quarter.

Hall began to extend its man defense to mid-court, and was transitioning out man defense in halfcourt settings and into traps.

The strategy got the Red Devils totally out of sync. By halftime, Jacksonville’s lead was 19-17.

Hall tied the game 40 seconds into the third quarter and took its first lead 15 seconds later with a steal and layup by Javon Perry.

The Warriors’ lead grew to 28-24 before Jacksonville went on an 11-0 run and seemed to have figured out the Hall defense.

Brown scored the last four of the run, giving Jacksonville a 35-28 lead with 1:15 left in the third quarter. But it didn’t even last the rest of the period.

Hall closed the frame with six straight points to make it 35-34 going into the fourth quarter.

“We should’ve gone ahead and put it away right there,” Joyner said. “But they started grabbing and putting two hands on our ball handlers. I told the officials if they were going to let them put two hands on us, I’m going to tell my guys to knock their hands away. And I did. I told them to be forceful. Don’t take that. But they didn’t do it. They just let it happen, let ‘em stop their momentum, stop their drives.”

The game wasn’t settled until Walton hit two free throws with six seconds remaining to set the final margin. His two foul shots immediately followed a blow opportunity by Jacksonville’s James Aikens. Aikens was at the line with a chance to tie the game, but missed the front end of a one-and-one.

Both teams were bad from the line, but Hall pulled it together in the fourth quarter. Jacksonville made just eight of 17 attempts. Hall went 9 of 19, but was five of seven in the fourth quarter.

The Red Devils suffered a season-high 17 turnovers while Hall gave it up 11 times.

Walton came off the bench to lead Hall with 13 points, including seven in the fourth quarter. Quan Jones added 11 and David Berete scored 10 for the Warriors. McCleary and Dwayne Waller scored 10 points each to lead Jacksonville.

The Lady Devils hung tough for a quarter, but the Lady Warriors blew the game open in the second period en route to a 73-48 victory.

The Devils’ Den was crawling with big-time college coaches for the girls game, including defending national champion Gary Blair of Texas A and M. They were there to watch Jacksonville junior Jessica Jackson and Hall’s Tyler Scaife. Neither disappointed.

Jackson almost single-handedly kept the Lady Devils close with 13 of the team’s 14 first-quarter points. She finished with 23 points and seven rebounds.

Scaife had an incredibly balanced game. She finished with 20 points, eight rebounds, eight assists and five steals.

The Red Devils were at home last night against Parkview. They go on the road on Friday to face Searcy.