Saturday, March 03, 2012

SPORTS >> Lady Devils overcome foul trouble

Leader sportswriter

EL DORADO — Early foul trouble and missed free throws made Jacksonville’s first round 6A state playoff matchup with Sheridan more competitive than it should’ve been after one half. The Lady Red Devils regrouped and came out in the second firing on all cylinders en route to a 58-44 win Thursday at Wildcat Arena in El Dorado.

Jacksonville (21-5) proved to be the better team early on as the Lady Red Devils led 19-10 after a quarter of play. However, standouts Jessica Jackson and Shakyla Hill each picked up their second fouls early in the second quarter, and sat the remainder of the half.

Sheridan (8-18) wasted no time taking advantage of Jacksonville’s misfortunes, and the Lady Jackets fought their way back to cut Jacksonville’s lead to 27-25 at the break.

“We knew we came out flat,” said Jacksonville coach Katrina Mimms about the first half. “They called some quick fouls on us, and got us in a little bit of foul trouble. So, we couldn’t get into what we wanted to do to them, and I think they got into what they wanted to do to us.

“When I have Shakyla and Jessica over there on the bench sitting down, we’re a little bit different team. But we came out in the second half and handled our business, and we were able to rest down the stretch.”

Jacksonville opened the second half with a ferocious 17-4 run, forcing Sheridan to call timeout at the 4:06 mark in the third. After a first half where Jackson and Hill scored two points each, the two combined for 22 points in the second half.

By the end of the third, Jacksonville held a comfortable 52-36 lead. Jacksonville’s free throw shooting was less than stellar as the Lady Red Devils went zero for seven at the line in the first half. Hill had five of those misses.

Sheridan allowed Jackson-ville to shoot the three-ball early, and put its defensive focus on closing off the lanes to where the Lady Red Devils couldn’t score in transition. It was a strategy that Mimms wanted to counter in the second half.

“We picked the tempo up,” Mimms said. “Picked the tempo up and forced some turnovers. We got some easy put-backs, and we had some girls attacking the hole. I said, ‘quit settling for these jumpers and get to the rim and finish.’”

Neither team had an advantage on the boards as both teams totaled 25 rebounds. Sheridan was more efficient at both the free throw line and the perimeter as the Lady Jackets shot 55 percent at the line and 40 percent from the perimeter.

Jacksonville shot 37 percent at the line and 23 percent from beyond the arc.

The turnover battle worked in Jacksonville’s favor as the Lady Red Devils committed 15 total, but forced 24, 15 of which came in the second half that led to several easy buckets on fast break points.

Jackson led the Lady Red Devils with a game-high 14 points and five rebounds. Hill finished with 12 points and seven steals, with five of those steals coming in the second half. Nicole Bennett had a strong game for Jacksonville as she scored 10 points and grabbed five rebounds.

Two players finished in double figures for Sheridan. Bryanne Molts and Lauren Mitchell each scored 12 points.