Friday, January 03, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> North Pulaski loses first place to Cards

Leader sports editor

The North Pulaski Falcons did well to get to the championship game of the Camden-Fairview Invitational, but couldn’t overcome a poor-shooting performance against the host team on Monday. The Falcons lost 61-55 to the Cardinals, but coach Roy Jackson’s team heads into conference play with confidence high.

Both teams were playing their third game in four days, but North Pulaski stayed in a hotel on Friday night after beating Magnolia. They came home after playing El Dorado late Saturday, then left out for Camden again on Monday afternoon.

“The kids played hard and I was proud of them,” said Jackson. “If I had to do it over again, I probably would’ve left a little earlier to get down there. We would’ve stopped at Fordyce and stretched our legs or something. We were just a little flat and we couldn’t throw it in the ocean. We just couldn’t put the ball in the hole.”

Both teams started flat, but North Pulaski did enough to take a 14-7 lead into the second quarter. They still led 22-20 at halftime despite only managing eight points, but the third quarter marked the turnaround.

Three Falcon starters picked up their third foul early in the period, and Camden Fairview outscored North Pulaski 20-9 to take a 40-31 lead into the final frame.

“I got one of my scorers and two of my best defensive players on the bench most of the second half, and that hurt us too,” Jackson said. “And it wasn’t the officiating. The officiating was excellent. We were just fouling. We weren’t moving our feet on defense and reaching too much.”

North Pulaski, 7-4, tried to mount a comeback in the fourth quarter and got the margin down to as little as four, but when it had to foul to lengthen the game, the Cardinals made their free throws to seal the win.

Rebounding was also a factor, as the longer Cardinals, 9-3, dominated the boards and got several points off second-chance baskets.

“I think all that goes back to being a little bit tired,” Jackson said. “Not moving our feet, not boxing out like we should have. When you’re not very big, you have to be more disciplined than we were about getting in position and boxing out. But when you’re tired, it’s harder to be as focused.”

Sophomore RaShawn Langston led all scorers with 27 points while a pair of Division I football prospects led the Cardinals.

Camden-Fairview’s 6-foot-3, 250-pound defensive end prospect Justin McCoy led the Cardinals with 24 points. Jonathan Walker, a 6-4 junior wide receiver prospect who recently visited the University of Arkansas, scored 14 while Chave Zachary added 13 for the Cardinals.

North Pulaski jumps into league play in the 5A Central on Tuesday when they host Helena-West Helena Central.