Wednesday, December 18, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> A second quarter surge lifts JHS ladies

Leader sportswriter

After a close first quarter, Jacksonville separated itself from Watson Chapel in the second, and the Lady Red Devils built on their lead from there, winning 71-43 Saturday in the Cabot Pre-Holiday Tournament at Panther Arena.

It was the only game Jacksonville (2-4) played in the third annual tournament, as the Lady Red Devils took the place of Greene County Tech, who was forced to drop out of the tournament last Tuesday because of the winter weather conditions in northeast Arkansas.

Greene County Tech was originally scheduled to play Cabot last Tuesday. Jacksonville played at Mount St. Mary Academy that day. So because of the scheduling conflict, Cabot received a first-round bye and the Lady Red Devils replaced GCT in the losers’ bracket.

In Saturday’s game, Jacksonville opened with an 11-4 lead, but the Lady Wildcats (2-5) closed the first quarter with a 6-0 run that cut the Lady Red Devils’ lead to 11-10 by the start of the second.

Watson Chapel took a 13-11 lead less than a minute into the second period on a three-pointer by Kierra Cox, but Jacksonville’s Keke Alcorn answered with a three on the ensuing possession to put the Lady Devils back up 14-13.

The two teams traded leads again until Ashli Evans drained another Jacksonville three-pointer, which sparked a 15-0 run for the Lady Red Devils. Jacksonville led 31-17 at that point, and went into halftime with a comfortable 36-19 lead.

“This is two (wins) in a row,” said Jacksonville coach William Rountree, whose team beat Mount St. Mary 63-39 for its first win of the season. “The kids are starting to play a lot better. We’re getting better defensively.

“(Watson Chapel) went to a zone, and we just kind of stood around. That slowed us down. We’re not a good slow down operation, and when we slowed down on offense we didn’t get back on defense.”

Jacksonville’s pressure got to the Lady Wildcats throughout the second quarter and deep into the second half. As a result, Watson Chapel had 28 turnovers in the game. Conversely, Jacksonville took better care of the ball as the game progressed. The Lady Devils had 15 turnovers in the game, but just five in the second half.

“We took care of the ball better and we scored in transition,” Rountree said of the second half.

The Lady Devils upped their lead to 20 with 5:36 to play in the third quarter on a layup by Tiffany Smith. At the end of three, Jacksonville led 56-31. Just over the midway point of the final period, the Lady Devils went up 30 on a midrange jumper by Alcorn, which invoked the sportsmanship rule with the score 70-40 with 3:53 remaining.

With the continuous clock in effect, only four more points were scored the rest of the way, and Evans set the final score in the waning seconds on a free throw.

Markela Bryles led the Lady Red Devils offensively. She finished the game with 16 points and 11 rebounds – both team highs. Smith scored 15 points. Antrice McCoy scored 13. Alcorn had 11, while Sacha Richardson and Evans added six apiece.

If the Lady Red Devils want to make it three wins in a row, they’ll have to do it against the most talented team in the state, as they’ll host top-ranked North Little Rock on Friday.