Wednesday, January 22, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Devils alone in first place

Special to The Leader

Both the Jacksonville Red Devils and the McClellan Lions were undefeated in conference play Friday night when the Lions played host to the Red Devils.

The game was close all the way, but Jacksonville (14-3, 4-0) prevailed for the 80-74 victory.

The score was tied at the end of the first quarter and McClellan (9-7, 3-1) led by two points at the end of the first half of play.

The third quarter was as close and as contested as well, with several calls that were questioned by Jacksonville head coach Victor Joyner. So strong were his objections, he received two technical fouls and had to leave the gym with 36 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

Keith Hayes shot the four technical free throws and made two to give the Lions a 51-47 lead. However, the Red Devils came back to outscore McClellan 31-21 in the final quarter to secure the victory.

“The sequence of calls, there was a sequence of about four or five calls that went against us,” said Joyner. “It was the same in the first half. My kids had to go to the hole and take two hits and they go to the free throw line. My kids were fighting an uphill battle, but the kids kept playing. My kids did a great job under all that adversity. They kept playing. That’s the whole key. They persevered and they came through.

“They get after it. They want to speed you up,” Coach Joyner said of McClellan. “If you can’t play in the 70s and 80s you’re going to have trouble with them. We were able to rest guys and we have guys that can finish around the basket. We have some great finishers.”

Jacksonville’s Kanaan Jackson tied the game at eight in the first quarter with a dunk, and the quarter ended knotted at 12.

The Red Devils struggled early in the second quarter with McClellan’s full-court press, turning the ball over and allowing the Lions to build a 27-19 lead with 3:53 to go in the quarter.

Damarion Freeman sank two free throws to trim the lead to 27-23 with 2:53 left. LaQuawn Smith and Sergio Berkley added baskets to help the Red Devils pull to just a 32-30 deficit at the half.

McClellan scored the first five points of the second half to build the lead to 37-30. The lead grew to 41-32, but Jackson hit a two-point basket plus one free throw and then added two free throws to pull the Red Devils to within two points at 45-43. After the technical free throws, Jacksonville forced a five second call on the Lions, and Devin Campbell hit two free throws for a 51-49 Lion lead.

McClellan built a 57-51 lead in the fourth quarter before Tedrick Wolfe tied the game at 58-58 with two free throws for the Red Devils. Andre Jones hit a three-pointer to give the Lions a 61-58 lead, answered by Campbell’s three-pointer to tie the game at 61-61.

The game was then tied four times with neither team leading by more than two points until Jacksonville went ahead 74-70. Hayes hit two free throws for the Lions to cut the lead to 74-72, but Smith answered with two free throws to up the Red Devil advantage to 76-72 with 41 seconds to go in the game.

Jacksonville led 78-74 with 17 seconds left and scored at the buzzer to set the final score at 80-74.

Jacksonville had four players in double figures in scoring. Campbell led the Red Devils with 20 points, Jackson added 17, Wolfe had 12 points and Berkley 10 points.
Hayes had 19 points for McClellan and Jones added 18 points.