Monday, April 15, 2013

SPORTS >> Lady devil stands out as All-Star

Leader sports editor

Jacksonville’s own Jessica Jackson had the best game of anyone on her team in the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association All-American game last Saturday in New Orleans, but was overlooked for team MVP, which went to Nia Coffey of Minneapolis.

Jackson’s Team Purple lost the game 74-70 to Team Black, which was led by another central Arkansas product, Hall High’s Tyler Scaife, who was given the Black MVP award.

Scaife scored 17 points to lead Team Black. She also had four rebounds and two assists. Jackson was better than Coffey in every statistical category. She led Team Purple in minutes played, points (15) rebounds (8) and blocked shots (2). Coffey finished with 12 points, three rebounds and one steal.

Jackson’s high-school coach, Katrina Mimms, was displeased that Jackson’s effort didn’t get the recognition it deserved.

“It didn’t make any sense to me,” Mimms, who was at the game, said. “You can’t say after one game she was the best player out there, but she had the best game that night. Maybe they just didn’t want two girls from the same state to get both of them. I don’t know.”

Despite the snub, Jackson said she had a great time and enjoyed the whole experience.

“I’ll just let coach Mimms comment on that,” (the MVP award) Jackson said. “It was great to get to play with the top girls, being on the floor in a game where everybody is really good. I actually got a little tired, but I thought my performance was good.”

Jackson got her first rebound 32 seconds into the game, and got on the scoreboard with two free throws at the 17:27 mark to pull team Purple to within 8-6. The two teams substituted five for five at the 15-minute mark, and team Black began to pull away, taking a 32-24 lead before the starters came back in with 10 minutes left in the first half.

Jackson answered quickly, hitting a three pointer with 9:15 remaining to make it 32-27. After two minutes without a score, team Black scored four straight to take it’s biggest lead of the game.

This time it was team Purple’s backups that put together a nice run, closing a nine-point deficit to 44-42 by halftime.

Scaife and Jackson scored eight straight points to start the second half. Scaife scored quickly to give Black a four-point lead, but Jackson answered just 11 seconds later. Only eight seconds after that, Scaife’s pull-up jumper made it 48-44, but Jackson drained a three pointer to make it 48-47 with 17:52 remaining. After two missed shots by team Black, Coffey scored with 17:30 remaining to give team Purple its first lead of the game.

It didn’t last long. Team Black went on a 9-0 run to take a 57-49 lead with 12:44 left in the game. After team Purple finally broke a nearly six-minute scoring drought at 11:47, team Black scored another five straight to take its biggest lead of the game at 62-51.

Coffey hit a three pointer with 10:18 left to make it 62-54 and team Purple began to slowly climb back into contention.

Jackson scored again with 8:40 remaining to make it 63-58, but Scaife went on a tear once team Purple pulled within 63-60. The Rutgers signee scored team Black’s next six points, giving her team a 69-60 lead with 6:13 left in the game.

Team Purple still wasn’t finished. It went on its best run of the game, scoring seven straight to pull within two with 3:54 left. Team Black then scored four straight before Jackson got an old-fashioned three-point play with 1:51 remaining to make it 73-70. After completing the three-point play, Jackson was pulled for the final two minutes. It was the last bucket of the game and the last points scored by team Purple.