Wednesday, November 13, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Falcons, Devils sporadic in outing

Leader sports editor

Results were mixed for both local teams that took part in the Jacksonville basketball jamboree Saturday afternoon at JHS. The Jacksonville Red Devils and the North Pulaski Falcons each won one game and lost one. Both teams exhibited vastly different performances in their two outings.

The event featured eight teams with Jacksonville splitting into varsity and junior varsity. After an initial full game between the Jacksonville JV team and class 4A upstart program ESTEM Charter, the remaining teams all played one half of ball against two different teams.

ESTEM pulled off a close win in the opening exhibition before varsity play began with El Dorado taking on JA Fair. El Dorado won that game 29-26 before Conway took the floor and beat the War Eagles 33-18. El Dorado then played Mountain Home and won that matchup 36-31 before Conway slipped by class 5A Forrest City 33-32.

North Pulaski then took the floor against Mountain Home and waxed the Bombers 43-20 in one half of play. The Falcons shot the ball extremely well and forced 16 Mountain Home turnovers in just 16 minutes of play.

North Pulaski point guard De’Marik Brown sparked an early Falcon run with a pair of steals and an assist to Aaren Scruggs for a pair of transition baskets. The Falcons made nine of 12 shot attempts in the first quarter as they built a 20-9 lead with their full-court man defense.

The shooting percentage wasn’t quite 75 in the second quarter, but was still good. Sophomore guard Rashawn Langston got a pair of transition dunks and drained a three pointer to lead the Falcon onslaught in the second quarter.

He finished with 12 points in the half while Jarrod Craven was second in scoring with nine on 4 for 4 shooting. A total of 10 different Falcons scored against Mountain Home.

Jacksonville then took the floor against Forrest City and were worn out inside. The Red Devils had no answer for 6-foot-10 post player Trey Thompson, who scored 13 points and had 10 rebounds to lead the Mustangs to a 31-26 advantage over the host team.

But it wasn’t Thompson that hurt Jacksonville early. Jacksonville couldn’t hold onto the ball. Forrest City’s pressure forced a few turnovers, but others were made out of the half-court sets. The Mustangs led 20-11 after one quarter before the Red Devils’ second group stabilized things early in the second.

The first group re-entered and mounted a comeback led by senior Sergio Berkley. He scored all of his team-high 10 points in the second period by being more aggressive and attacking the basket.

While Jacksonville did close the gap from nine to five points, the turnovers increased from six in the first quarter to seven in the second.

“We’re just trying to find chemistry,” Jacksonville coach Vic Joyner said. “We have a totally new team and we’re going to spend probably the first half of the season trying to find those guys that work together. The pieces are there with this team. We just have to figure out how they fit together.”

Sitting his first group and letting them watch a large chunk of the Forrest City matchup apparently got the starters’ attention. They jumped on North Pulaski early and built a large lead en route to a 44-18 advantage in the jamboree finale.

“Pine time will change your mind,” Joyner said of his first group. “Once they had a chance to sit over there and think about the fact that the second group was playing because they did what I told them to, they came out with a little different attitude the second time around.”

The attitude was to attack and attack some more, and the Falcons couldn’t stop the Red Devils’ penetration. Jacksonville got the basket almost at will in the early going and got to the free-throw line more in a half than usually takes place in a full game.

The Falcons were called for 21 fouls and Jacksonville shot 25 free throws in two quarters of play.

“I think once we got started and the suddenly the shots weren’t falling like they were the first time, we just a little discouraged and didn’t execute,” said North Pulaski coach Roy Jackson. “We were reaching too much and we weren’t patient on offense. We didn’t commit many turnovers, but we just didn’t run our sets.”

The Falcons did indeed commit only five turnovers, but made just four of 31 shot attempts, including 1 of 6 from three-point range.

Every team except ESTEM played without part of its roster due to football season still going on, but North Pulaski and Mountain Home were at particular disadvantages by being without a post presence.

The result against Jacksonville was the dominance of Red Devil post player Kanaan Jackson, who scored 15 points and had seven rebounds against the Falcons. Devin Campbell was second in scoring with seven points while freshman Tyreke Appleby added five points, all from the free-throw line.

North Pulaski opens its season in the second game of a boys and girls doubleheader at home against Pulaski Robinson on Thursday. The girls take the court at 6 p.m. and the boys follow at approximately 7:30.

Jacksonville’s first official game is the following day, a home game against West Memphis with the girls set to tip off at 6 p.m.