Thursday, December 05, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Red Devils suffer first loss with road trip to WMHS

Special to The Leader

WEST MEMPHIS – The last time they faced West Memphis, the Jacksonville Red Devils had no trouble building a 25-point first-half lead. On Tuesday night at Lehr Arena, they couldn’t even come close to that.

West Memphis avenged a 68-65 loss to the Red Devils on Nov. 15 by shooting 55.2 percent from the field and outrebounding Jacksonville 35-21 for a 70-57 win.
Although Jacksonville (4-1) had three brief leads, once the Blue Devils got hot toward the end of the second quarter it seemed there was nothing the visitors could do to curtail the roll.

“Right now we’ve just lost some mental focus,” said Jacksonville head coach Vic Joyner. “We’ve got a lot of moody folks right now, and they’re thinking about themselves only.”

Jacksonville came out of the gate strong enough, taking a 16-15 lead early in the second quarter on a rebound basket by LaQuan Smith.

The Red Devils’ last lead was 31-26 with two minutes left before halftime. And it looked like Jacksonville had West Memphis (5-2) trapped in a corner as three of its top rebounders had already collected their third fouls.

With Blue Devil big men Jevon Bernard, Vakeyemus Davis and Divontia Hyland parked on the bench with foul trouble, West Memphis took off anyway on a 24-4 run that stretched into the third quarter.

West Memphis scored the final nine points of the first half to take a 35-31 lead into halftime. Then it went on a 15-4 run to start the third quarter to take a 50-35 lead with 2:22 left in the stanza.

“West Memphis played well, and I tip my hat to them, but they weren’t our enemy tonight,” Joyner said. “Right now we’re our own worst enemy. It’s something we have to correct in-house.”

West Memphis head coach Larry Bray responded to foul trouble on his big men by going with a smaller lineup and it paid dividends.

“I was so happy with how we played with that smaller lineup that I decided to stay with it,” said Bray. “Basketball’s a game of momentum, and I decided to keep doing what got us the lead.”

The Blue Devils owned two 16-point leads in the fourth quarter, but Jacksonville was able to chop it down to 11 points with 1:35 left after a three-pointer by Devin Campbell, who led all scorers with 19 points.

But the Blue Devils got a dunk on the other end from reserve Dyone Lunzy with 1:03 left to make it 68-55.

Jacksonville shot only 10 of 26 (38.4 percent) in the second half, although it committed only nine turnovers for the game and forced 16 West Memphis miscues.
Tedrick Wolfe added nine points for Jacksonville while Kerry Knight pumped in eight.

Despite the early foul trouble, West Memphis was still able to get 18 points from Hyland while junior Gary Henderson and Bernard each scored 15.