Friday, January 24, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Red Devils earn pair of Central triumphs

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville basketball teams picked up a pair of 5A-Central Conference wins on Tuesday, sweeping the Helena-West Helena Central boys and girls at the Devils’ Den in Jacksonville. The boys held off a mid-game Cougar charge to win 68-57, while the girls controlled throughout in a 69-54 victory.

The Lady Red Devils got a balanced attack against what proved to be a two-man show for the Central girls. Four of Jacksonville’s five starters finished the game in double figures. For Central, freshman Keavonsheay Stackhouse and senior Tyra Hampton accounted for 76 percent of the Lady Cougars’ offense.

Jacksonville got the offense rolling early, scoring 21 points in the first quarter and going into halftime with a 41-23 lead. Though Jacksonville coach William Rountree thought the defense could’ve been better.

“I didn’t feel like we were on our A game defensively,” Rountree said. “Helena is really athletic and has one really good guard, and we didn’t do as well as I thought we could have at keeping her in check. But the number one objective is to win the ball game and we did that. I thought we did some good things and were able to win.”

The game became ragtag in the third quarter, and Central took advantage. The Lady Cougars outscored Jacksonville 19-14 in that quarter. That made it a 13-point game going into the fourth, but the visitors were never able to get the margin into single digits.

The short Lady Devils are usually at a considerable size disadvantage on the post. That wasn’t the case on Tuesday, and Jacksonville took full advantage.

Senior post players Markela Bryles and Ashli Evans both scored in double figures. Bryles had 23 while Evans scored 10. Evans, who is only 5-foot-6, drew praise from Rountree for her recent efforts.

“I thought Ashli has had great games the last two times out,” Rountree said. “She can expand her role. She passes the ball well. She doesn’t shoot a lot, but she takes good shots. When she brings her A game energy, she’s very helpful in making us a good team. The last two games she’s provided a spark when we really needed one.”

Also in double figures for Jacksonville were senior guards Keke Alcorn and Tiffany Smith, who scored 19 and 12 respectively. Stackhouse scored 23 and Hampton added 19 for Central.

The boys played their game without head coach Vic Joyner, who had to sit out after being ejected from the Red Devils’ win over McClellan last Friday. Assistant coach and athletic director Jerry Wilson was at the helm for the game, and thought the team started strong, but could’ve finished better.

“We came out and got after them and got a big lead, but we didn’t keep the intensity up,” said Wilson. “We got it back and got the win, so overall it was a pretty good effort.”

Jacksonville raced out to a 20-9 lead in the first quarter and was on the verge of blowing the game open. But the Cougars came back to within five by halftime. A quick burst to start the third quarter put the visiting team in front by one point, but the lead was short-lived. Jacksonville picked up the intensity and reclaimed control of the game.

Devin Campbell hit a three pointer off a steal that sparked a run late in the third. Jacksonville closed the quarter leading 47-42, and quickly pushed it to double digits again in the fourth.

Campbell finished with 18 points while Kanaan Jackson scored 15 and Tedrick Wolfe 10 for the Red Devils. Ricky Beechwood led Central with 15 points while Terrence Smith scored 11 and Anthony Lewis 10.