Friday, December 26, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Jacksonville dominates fourth, defeats Central

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville Red Devils struggled a little more with the 2-6 Tigers of Little Rock Central than coach Vic Joyner would’ve liked, but they closed with a dominant fourth quarter that Joyner liked very much, earning a 69-54 win in the last game of the McDonald’s Red Devil Classic at JHS on Tuesday.

“We didn’t come out with the kind of intensity I want to see, but big teams are going to give us trouble,” said Joyner. “That’s a big team and we had to adjust how to attack and defend. We weren’t getting a body on a body in the first half and they were getting a lot of second-chance points. We did a better job of rebounding in the second half and we did a better job of attacking the basket. It was a much better performance overall, than the one (Monday).”

The night before, Joyner said there was nothing good to take away from a 60-47 win against Catholic. He was much more pleased on Tuesday, especially with his starting unit and with three players particularly.

Devin Campbell, Tyree Appleby and Tedrick Wolfe combined for 55 of the team’s 69 points. That trio scarcely left the floor throughout the game, a marked difference from the wholesale substitutions frequently seen throughout Jacksonville’s pre-conference season.

“It’s conference time now,” Joyner said. “We got to go with who we got to go with. We need those guys on the floor and these other ones are going to have to just be ready when their number is called. We’re still going to go pretty deep down the bench, but now is the time when it starts to count. We have to go with who we have to go with.”

The Tigers controlled the pace early, slowing the tempo with a 1-2-2 zone defense.

Appleby, a sophomore point guard, scored all three of Jacksonville’s field goals in the opening frame while Campbell added one free throw. Central held a 12-7 lead at the end of one quarter, but Jacksonville found a way to push the pace in the second frame.

The Red Devils took their first lead of the game with 5:20 left in the first half. Campbell grabbed a defensive rebound and went the distance of the floor for a layup that put the Classic hosts up 18-17.

With full-court pressure, Jacksonville extended that margin to 30-23 by halftime. A 3-pointer by Braylon James set the score at the break.

The Tigers again controlled the pace in the third quarter, but didn’t control the boards like they did in the first half.

Central managed to close the gap to 49-44 by the end of the third, but also began to struggle to contain Campbell in the lane. The 6-foot-3 Campbell scored nine points in the third quarter, including five at the foul line, where he continued to find himself in the fourth period.

The Red Devils grabbed control of the game quickly in the fourth quarter, opening the frame with an 8-0 run for a 57-44 lead.

Central didn’t lose any further ground, but couldn’t get enough defensive stops to gain any ground. Wolfe and Campbell controlled the inside while James buried two more 3-pointers to keep the Tigers at bay.

Jacksonville began to put on a show in the final minute against the fatigued Tigers. Campbell spotted a crease in the Tiger defense with a minute left and exploded down the lane for a thunderous two-handed dunk. Appleby then stole a cross-court pass and dished to Wolfe for another two-hander that went for Jacksonville’s final points of the night.

Central’s Donald Richardson scored with 10 seconds left to set the final margin.

Forward Brennan Johnson led the Tigers with 20 points and eight boards while center Raekwon Rogers added 12 points and five rebounds.

Campbell led all scorers with 26 points and added eight rebounds. He shot 14 of Jacksonville’s 15 free-throw attempts, and made all 10 of the Red Devils’ successful foul shots.

Appleby finished with 15 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and two steals. Wolfe recorded a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds, and added four blocked shots and three assists. James added nine for Jacksonville on 3 of 6 shooting from outside the arc.

Central shot 30 percent from the floor on 21 of 70 shooting while Jacksonville hit 26 of 59 for 44 percent. Both teams made 5 of 20 three-point attempts and Central hit 7 of 11 from the foul stripe. Jacksonville won the rebounding battle 36-35.

Both teams next play on Jan. 6. Central hosts Catholic in the 7A-Central Conference opener while Jacksonville hosts J.A. Fair in the 5A-Central opener.