Monday, January 13, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Jacksonville sweeps Mills U. at The Galaxy

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville boys picked up a crucial early conference road win on Tuesday while the Lady Red Devils cruised in a 5A-Central doubleheader at Mills University Studies.

The Red Devils overcame a seven-point halftime deficit to beat the Comets 53-51 at The Galaxy Arena. The Lady Devils also overcame a first-quarter deficit of 12-11, but took control with 34 points in the second quarter en route to a 69-41 victory.

In the girls’ game, the poor first quarter was quickly erased when Jacksonville coach William Rountree called for pressure in the second quarter. Mills didn’t have the guards to deal with the athleticism of Jacksonville’s defense. The Lady Devils led 45-23 by halftime, and continued stretching that lead in the third quarter. The fourth quarter went by quickly with a continuous clock as Jacksonville’s lead grew to as much as 60-25 in the third.

“We weren’t really in sync in the first quarter,” said Rountree. “Our press took its toll in the second. So it’s a good win. Went on the road and started conference play on a positive note. I’ll take that.”

Four seniors led the Lady Devils in scoring. Tiffany Smith led Jacksonville with 17 points while Markela Bryles added 15. Keke Alcorn dropped in 11 and Ashli Evans added eight points.

The Lady Devils are now 5-6 overall after starting the season 0-5.

“We put together a pretty good stretch of playing well,” Rountree said. “We’ve continued to improve after a very tough nonconference schedule. I’d say it was easily the toughest nonconference schedule in our league. So we’re pleased with the direction things are going right now.”

The Jacksonville boys also struggled in the first quarter, only those struggles became worse in the second. The Red Devils came out of the halftime with a renewed focus and outscored Mills 16-7 in the third quarter, which was the difference in the game. Both teams put up 21 in the fourth period to set the final margin.

Better execution was the simple reason for the turnaround.

“They finally did what we were asking them to do,” Jacksonville boys’ coach Vic Joyner said. “We ran three, maybe four offensive plays the entire first half. We just stayed in a rut. We were making one pass and a shot, or one pass and driving. There was no continuity whatsoever.”

After a first quarter where Jacksonville’s total time of possession on the offensive end was one minute and 16 seconds, the Red Devils (10-3, 1-0) were much more deliberate with the ball in the second half.

“We ran our offense,” Joyner said of the second half effort. “We made them work on defense, which took possessions away from them. We moved the ball until we found open shots.”

Despite the disappointing opening half, Joyner is still very pleased to leave The Galaxy with a win, something his state championship team a year ago didn’t do.

“When you get to conference it doesn’t matter how ugly a win is,” Joyner said. “A win is a win. You’re going to take a road win in conference no matter how bad it looks. And in this conference especially, where everybody is good. I don’t figure there are going to be many mercy rule games. I don’t see that happening.”

Junior Devin Campbell led Jacksonville with 23 points. Junior forward Tedrick Wolfe added 16 points and 12 rebounds. Wolfe has averaged a double-double over the last four games.

The Devils and Lady Devils hosted Little Rock Christian Academy last night after Leader deadlines. Look for a full report on those games in Wednesday’s edition of The Leader.