Friday, February 17, 2012

SPORTS >> Red Devils sweep ’Canes

Leader sports editor

Jacksonville made a long conference road trip on Friday and came back with two big but juxtaposed wins over Jonesboro. The Red Devils mercy ruled Jonesboro earlier this season while the Lady Devils needed a last-second shot for the home win. On Friday, the boys held off a strong comeback attempt to slip away with a 70-65 win, while the Lady Devils overcame a slow start to cruise, 56-39.

“We covered their outside shooters better than we did the first game,” Jacksonville girls coach Katrina Mimms said. “We didn’t give up any open threes. They hit four total and they were spread out one in each quarter. I think in the first game they hit 10.”

The Lady Hurricane (9-16, 2-9) led 13-12 at the end of the first quarter, but Mimms recognized the problem and corrected it.

“We didn’t attack the hole,” Mimms said. “We came out flat. We weren’t moving on offense. We weren’t rotating or getting any dribble drives. We were just passing it around and the first open shot we were jacking it. Later in the game we got some easier shots. It’s just a matter of being patient.”

Jacksonville (17-5, 7-4) took a 24-21 lead into halftime, then picked up the defensive intensity to pull away in the second half.

“We were able to get some steals and force some turnovers in the second half,” Mimms said. “That created some easy baskets for us.”

Junior guard Jessica Jackson led the Lady Red Devils with 20 points while freshman guard Shakayla Hill added 15.

The Jacksonville boys (19-4, 9-2) were on the verge of breaking away for another easy win. The Red Devils held a 13-point lead in the second quarter, but Jonesboro rallied to cut the margin to six by halftime. The home team rally continued in the third quarter and the Hurricane briefly took a 49-47 lead late in the third quarter.

Jonesboro (19-5, 7-4) went from man defense to a 2-1-2 full court trapping press to ignite the rally, but a Jacksonville adjustment made the Hurricane lead short-lived.

“They went to the trap, so we inserted Dustin House (three-point specialist) in behind the pressure and he came up big for us, kind of bailed us out,” Joyner said.

“Once Jacksonville beat the press, the ball found its way to House around the perimeter. House scored nine consecutive points off three successive three pointers. Guards Dwayne Waller and Aaron Smith also hit three pointers during the run that put the Red Devils back in control.

Once Jonesboro came out of the press, Jacksonville went back to its inside game, where Jonesboro had no defense.

“They had no answer for T,” (senior post Tirrell Brown) Joyner said.

Brown led the Red Devils with 17 points. Waller added 12 and House finished with 11.

Jacksonville played at Marion on Friday and returns home on Tuesday to face West Memphis.