Saturday, February 23, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Devils finish conference perfect

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville Lady Red Devils got another 30-point performance from star senior Jessica Jackson, and a loaded stat sheet from sophomore Shakyla Hill in a 68-48 victory over Sylvan Hills Tuesday in Sherwood.

Jackson scored 31 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to follow a 30-point, 15-rebound game in the previous outing against Pulaski Academy.

Hill finished two rebounds and two steals away from a triple-double, despite playing only about half the game. She checked out for the final time with 4:21 left in the game.

Jacksonville coach Katrina Mimms has been employing the strategy of letting reserves play the last half of each quarter in several games the past month. Hill finished with 10 points, eight rebounds, eight steals and four assists.

Shooting guard Tiffany Smith added 15 points to the victory.

“That’s three of our key scorers,” Mimms said. “We’ve got one sitting out with a thumb injury, but you want to see your key players playing well as state tournament approaches. Right now we’ve been playing pretty well.”

Jacksonville (21-4, 14-0) didn’t take control until midway through the second quarter.

Sylvan Hills’ Jalmedal Byrd-Hudson scored 10 points in the first quarter to keep the Lady Bears close. Byrd-Hudson’s three pointer with 3:30 left in the opening quarter made it 10-10, but Jacksonville reeled off the next six points and took an 18-12 lead into the second quarter.

All six points were started or finished by Hill. She got steals on consecutive Sylvan Hills possessions and turned each into transition assists, one to Antrice McCoy and one to Keke Alcorn.

A third steal in less than 90 seconds resulted in Hill taking it in herself.

Jackson got uncorked in the second quarter, scoring 12 of her 31 and leading the Lady Devils to a 38-24 lead at halftime.

The Lady Bears (13-12, 8-6) were within 42-30 before Jacksonville all but put the game away. Two more steals turned into two more layups by Hill. Jackson then added two three pointers to cap a 10-0 run and a 52-30 Jacksonville lead with 4:13 left in the third quarter.

The Lady Red Devils led 59-38 by the end of the third, and started the fourth with a 9-0 run that invoked the mercy rule with 4:45 left in the game.

Byrd-Hudson scored 24 to lead the Lady Bears, who also qualifies for 5A state with a fourth-place finish in conference. Sylvan Hills will play at 1 p.m. Wednesday against Huntsville, the 5A West champion, at the Pine Bluff Convention Center. Jacksonville will play at 7 p.m. Tuesday against either Clarksville or Morrilton.