Tuesday, February 19, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Jacksonville defeats PA

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville Lady Red Devils had already locked up at least a share of the conference championship and the No. 1 seed in the state tournament from the 5A Central Conference, but that didn’t stop senior guard Jessica Jackson saving one of her best performances of the season for senior night on Friday. Jackson scored 30 points and pulled down 15 rebounds in the Lady Red Devils 58-48 win over Pulaski Academy in Jacksonville’s final home game.

Jackson played her final game at JHS and admitted she wanted to have a great performance in her final home game, and set out to do it.

“It was my last time to ever play in the Devil’s Den so I was like, I’m just going to leave it out there,” Jackson said. “I had a lot of fun. They came out and played well. They really slowed us down and we’re not used to that. But we got the win.”

Jacksonville (20-4, 13-0) never trailed, but also never put the game away until late in the fourth quarter. The Lady Red Devils built a 12-5 lead early in the first quarter, but the Lady Bruins scored six straight to make it 12-11 with 20 seconds left in the opening frame. Jackson scored to end the quarter and the Lady Devils scored the first nine points of the second for a 23-11 lead with 2:45 remaining in the half. Pulaski Academy finally got on the board in the second quarter, but still went into intermission trailing by 11 at 27-16.

Jacksonville scored first in the third quarter for a 13-point lead, but the Bruins scored the next seven in a row to make it 29-23 with 5:20 left in the third.

Jacksonville then went on a 10-0 run with Jackson scoring eight of those points for a 39-23 lead with 1:20 on the clock in the third period.

The Lady Bruins (11-9, 8-4) trimmed the lead to 10 three times in the fourth quarter, but could never break the double-digit barrier again.

Jackson led all players in points and rebounds. She also finished with a remarkable five steals, four assists and seven blocked shots.

Guards Shakyla Hill and Tiffany Smith scored 10 points apiece for the Lady Red Devils.

Pulaski Academy guard Mackie Kuhn scored 16 points to lead the Lady Bruins. Liana Krisht added nine for PA.

The win assures the Lady Red Devils of an outright conference championship, their first in nearly two decades. Still, Jackson believes her team has some things to improve before the state tournament begins on Feb. 26 at the Pine Bluff Convention Center.

“We have a lot to improve before state,” Jackson said. “We have to be more serious and work harder in practice. We have to put in more running work and get in better condition. And we have to be more ready to play at tip off, and not start slow like we did tonight and against Little Rock Christian.”