Tuesday, December 18, 2012

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Devils’ best game beats Patriots

Leader sportswriter

The Jacksonville ladies picked up another hard-fought win this season, handing Little Rock Parkview, the defending Class 6A state champion, its first loss with a 56-48 victory Friday at the Devil’s Den.

Jacksonville went 0-3 against last year’s Lady Patriots, including a 31-point loss in the Class 6A semifinal. Lady Red Devils coach Katrina Mimms remembers it all too well, and was glad to be on the other side of the fence this time around.

“After last year, (losing) three times, it’s good to get a little revenge at least,” Mimms said. “Overall, I thought that’s probably one of the best overall games we’ve played. Offensively we did some good things. Defensively, we slowed them down. We didn’t do everything right, but as far as a whole game, that’s one of the best games we’ve played all year.”

It took a few minutes for the two respective teams to settle into the game. Senior standout and University of Arkansas signee, Jessica Jackson, scored Jacksonville’s first pair of points at the free throw line at the 5:17 mark of the opening quarter. Once each side put points on the board, it was back and forth for the remainder of the quarter.

The score was knotted up at 14-14 after a bank three pointer by Parkview’s Christyal Holloway with 50 seconds to play in the quarter. Junior two guard Tiffany Smith countered with a three of her own on the Lady Devils’ next possession to give Jacksonville (6-4) a 17-14 lead at the end of the first.

Parkview (5-1) took a three-point lead early in the second after a 6-0 scoring run. Smith ended Jacksonville’s scoreless streak with another three pointer that tied the score at 20 apiece with 4:24 left in the half. After Smith’s game-tying three, the Lady Devils went on a 12-0 run to take a 32-20 lead at the break.

“I thought we did a good job of getting them in foul trouble,” Mimms said. “They got in foul trouble and that helped us, because 34 (Sausha Davey) got in foul trouble early. And when they take her out of the game, that kind of negates their inside game.

“Our plan offensively, we knew they were going to do two things. They would run man-to-man or they would run a matchup, and we were ready for both. We knew that we had to come down and be a little more patient than we’ve been in a half-court set. And we knew defensively that we had to cover shooters and box out.”

Jacksonville pushed its lead to 16 near the end of the third. Parkview’s Taylor Boles was able to cut the deficit to 14 by the end of the quarter on a basket inside the paint with 8 seconds on the clock. In the final quarter, the Lady Patriots did all they could to make a run.

Parkview’s press defense gave Jacksonville problems in the final eight minutes. The Lady Patriots forced nine Jacksonville turnovers in the quarter while committing just one. With 1:18 to play, Parkview’s Derriel Banyard scored an easy layup after a Jacksonville turnover, which cut the Lady Devils’ lead to eight.

The Lady Patriots cut the deficit down to six with another two pointer, but sophomore point guard Shakyla Hill put the game away in the final seconds as she scored the last four points for Jacksonville. It was Hill’s only points of the game, and they couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time.

“Today is her birthday, so a much-needed birthday present,” Mimms said of Hill.

Although neither team shot great from the free-throw and three-point lines, Jacksonville had the better percentage in each category. The Lady Devils shot 60 percent from the free throw line and 30.7 percent beyond the perimeter. Parkview made 26 percent of its shots from downtown on 23 attempts, and made a less than stellar 30.7 percent of its free throws.

Jacksonville’s 24 turnovers were 10 more than Parkview totaled, but the Lady Devils dominated the rebounding statistics with 38 boards compared to the Lady Patriots’ 19.

Jackson finished with a double-double as she led all scorers with 24 points and grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds. Markela Bryles finished a board shy of a double-double as she scored 10 points and had nine rebounds. Smith scored eight points, all in the first half.

Hill added six rebounds and seven assists to her four points. Roshunda Johnson, an Oklahoma State signee, led Parkview with 15 points and six steals.

The Lady Devils will play again Dec. 26 in a tournament at Springfield, Mo.