Friday, December 05, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Red Devils win home opener

Leader sports editor

Fouls kept Jacksonville’s first home game from being all that entertaining, but the Red Devils shot free throws supremely to come away with a 67-57 victory over West Memphis on Tuesday.

There were 47 fouls and 63 total free throws. Jacksonville got the Lions’ share of the foul shots, shooting 41 and making 32 of them. The Red Devils shot 22 free throws in the fourth quarter when the Blue Devils were forced to foul, and made 19.

Jacksonville was more intentional about driving to the basket, which was part of the reason for the free-throw discrepancy even though the foul count was about even. But Jackson-ville coach Vic Joyner wasn’t entirely pleased with that strategy.

“We’re not moving the ball offensively,” said Joyner. “The ball is sticking in people’s hands and we’re forcing it.”

Jacksonville’s starting five quickly fell into a 9-2 whole and did not make a field goal for nearly half of the first quarter. They left the game trailing 15-9 when Joyner went with wholesale substitutions.

The second five took the floor and went on a 9-0 run to give Jacksonville an 18-15 lead by the end of the first quarter.

Senior Jarvis McChristian got the run started with a pair of steals. He also hit the 3-pointer that gave the Red Devils their first lead.

West Memphis answered with a 7-0 run to reclaim the lead, and held it, taking a 35-30 lead into intermission.

The Red Devils pulled even early in the third quarter. West Memphis led 42-41 when senior guard Craig Watson scored five-straight points to give the home team a four-point lead. Kahlil Hill got a steal and fed Watson in transition for a 3-pointer. After another defensive stop by Jacksonville, Watson drove and hit a 10-foot floater to make it 46-42 at the end of the third.

“In both halves the second group went in and just outplayed the first group,” Joyner said. “They’re the reason we won that game because they came in, defended, shared the ball and got us back into it.”

The fourth quarter took 30 minutes with 31 free throws and Jacksonville’s deadeye shooting from the line sealed the victory. Joyner talked with his team for almost another 30 minutes after the game in a closed-door session.

“We have got to get better defensively,” Joyner said. “That’s what that talk was about. That’s all this week’s practice is going to be about.”

Forward Tedrick Wolfe led Jacksonville with 18 points and eight rebounds, including seven in the first half. LaQuawn Smith and Tyree Appleby each finished with 11 points while Watson added 10 for the Red Devils.

Jarvis Williams led West Memphis with 15 points while Rai East and Gary Henderson each scored 13.

The Red Devils, 5-1, play Memphis Central at 3:30 p.m. today at North Little Rock High School in the Battle of the Border Classic. Joyner hadn’t been able to get much information on today’s opponent as of Thursday evening. “They play (Memphis)Hamilton on Friday so I’ll probably drive over there and watch that if I can’t get any tape,” Joyner said on Thursday. “We need to worry about us right now anyway.”