Friday, December 05, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> West Memphis gets JHS again

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville Lady Devils hung close with Class 7A West Memphis on Tuesday, but lost for the second time this season to the Lady Blue Devils in a 62-50 final at JHS.

Jacksonville’s Desiree Williams hit a 3-pointer that gave the home team its final lead at 35-33 with 2:36 left in the third quarter. West Memphis answered with a seven-point run, all seven points on one trip down the floor, and maintained control the rest of the way.

“I thought we played better, longer than we did when we played them down there,” said Jacksonville coach William Rountree. “That’s a 7A school. They’re twice as big as us in enrollment and physical size. We’re not supposed to beat them. But we were in position to give ourselves a chance late in the game and that’s what you want.”

The turning point began right after Williams’ 3-pointer at 2:36. Blue Devil LaShayla Hicks hit the first of two free throws, got her own rebound of the second miss, put it back up and in while being fouled. That made it 36-35 West Memphis.

She missed the free throw again. This time her teammate Amesha Hamlet got the rebound, scored and was fouled. She also missed the free throw, but Hicks got the rebound and scored, making it 40-35 with 1:09 left in the third quarter and West Memphis never trailed again.

“They had a big size advantage but we also did a terrible job rebounding,” Rountree said. “We didn’t block out, we didn’t get a body on anyone. That’s one thing that has to get a lot better.”

The West Memphis lead was 44-38 when Jacksonville scored four-straight points off Blue Devil turnovers. That prompted a timeout by West Memphis coach Sheila Burns with 6:44 remaining in the game, and the team responded to her fiery admonishments during the break.

The Lady Blue Devils scored the next eight points to take a 10-point lead, but Jacksonville wasn’t quite put away. Jacksonville continued the pressure and continued to force quick shots or get turnovers. Point guard Antrice McCoy and post player Tatiana Lacy combined for six-straight points, all from the line, to make it 52-48 with 3:11 left.

Lacy fouled out 19 seconds later, and the Lady Blue Devils began exploiting their now even larger size advantage.

“When they brought No. 10 (the 6-foot-2 Hicks) off the bench and she played so well, that really hurt us,” Rountree said. “Tatiana didn’t have her best game, but she’s sick and played through it, so I’m proud of her effort.”

Jacksonville shot just 27 percent from the floor, hitting 15 of 56 shot attempts. Both teams were bad from the free-throw line, where both teams found themselves repeatedly. Jacksonville made 16 of 31 foul shots while West Memphis was even worse at 15 of 33. The Lady Blue Devils outrebounded Jacksonville 39-25, but Lady Devil Jerrica Hardaway led all rebounders with 11.

West Memphis’ Alexis Hamlett led all scorers with 24 points, and added six steals and four rebounds. She was the only Blue Devil in double figures. McCoy led Jacksonville with 16 while Williams added 11 and Alexis James scored eight.

The Lady Red Devils, 3-5, play just once more for nearly three weeks when they host Mount St. Mary on Tuesday. They’ll be off for finals before resuming play in the Red Devil Classic that begins on Dec. 22.