Friday, January 30, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Crimson Lion duo dominates at Den

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville Red Devils lost 63-55 at the Devils’ Den Tuesday to McClellan, marking the first-ever back-to-back conference losses for Jacksonville in coach Vic Joyner’s eight years at the helm. The longer and faster Lions lured the Red Devils into a tempo and style that better suited the visitors, and the McClellan duo of Keith Hayes and Andre Jones took full advantage.

“We have some good players who can take it to the basket and score, but we don’t have anybody the caliber of either of those two,” said Joyner. “But that’s not the main reason we lost. We lost because these kids do not listen. I’ve battled this all season. They want to play one-on-one. They don’t execute the offense. They don’t take it seriously in practice. There’s nobody on this team who will step up and be a leader and work to change any of that. Now we’ve lost two straight and instead of anybody rallying, they’re arguing and blaming. This team has talent enough to beat McClellan if they’d execute an offense. But if they don’t grow up and get it between the ears, it could get worse from here. This seriously could be the first time we’ve been finished in February.”

The Red Devils (16-4, 5-2) have developed a reputation this season as a highlight reel waiting to happen, converting turnovers into show-stopping dunks and high-flying alley-oops. But on Tuesday, it was McClellan (14-5, 7-0) that came into Jacksonville’s house and put on the show.

For one brief stretch at the beginning of the second quarter, the Lions scored eight-straight points off dunks that were the result of Red Devil turnovers, the third bucket being a windmill slam by Jones. On Jacksonville’s next possession, Davon Johnson stole the ball at midcourt, threw to Hayes who lobbed it to Jones for an alley-oop that turned a 16-15 lead after one into 24-15 with 6:15 left in the half.

Joyner called his second timeout of the quarter and got things slowed down the rest of the half. Jacksonville got the margin down to four before McClellan scored five-straight again. Jacksonville got to within 30-25 and forced a turnover with four seconds left. Marcis Hall was called for a foul away from the ball.

It was McClellan’s 10th foul of the half, but the officials had Jacksonville take the ball out underneath the McClellan basket. Joyner disputed the decision, saying it should be a shooting foul, and according to rules, he was right. Only offensive player-control fouls are supposed to result in change of possession without free throws. But the Red Devils were forced to go 94 feet and missed a near half court shot at the buzzer.

McClellan quickly pushed its lead to the largest of the game in the third quarter, jumping ahead 39-28 early in the frame. Jacksonville cut it to 41-37 on an and-one by Devin Campbell with 2:22 remaining in the third, and had two possessions to get closer but failed to score. The Lions took a 45-39 lead into the fourth quarter, but that was cut in half when Tyree Appleby hit a 3-pointer 30 seconds into the final period.

Hayes wasted no time changing that, taking the inbounds pass after the bucket and going the length of the court for a layup with 7:18 remaining.

With 5:45 remaining, Appleby hit another 3-pointer that made it 49-47. The Red Devils got a defensive stop and several shots on the next possession, but one long-range jumper and three offensive rebounds and putback attempts didn’t produce a basket.

Jones then scored for McClellan to make it 51-47, and Tedrick Wolfe answered for Jacksonville to make it 51-49 with 4:32 left in the game.

Jones then scored again and Jacksonville missed. Hayes then got inside for a 3-point play to make it 58-51 with 3:14 remaining.

Jacksonville missed again, but defended for more than a minute before forcing a turnover. Campbell then drained a 3-pointer to make it 58-54 with 1:40 on the clock. That’s when impeccable timing by McClellan coach Chris Threatt came into play.

Campbell got a 5-second call on Hayes with 1:27 on the clock, but the official across the court blew his whistle simultaneously and awarded McClellan a timeout. Almost immediately out of the break, Jacksonville trapped Johnson and drew a traveling call, but again, that official was overruled and another timeout was awarded to Threatt.

This time, Hayes got to the line after the timeout. He made both, but was called for a lane violation on the second, giving Jacksonville the ball with 40 seconds remaining, trailing by five. But it didn’t stay five long.

Appleby took the inbounds pass and immediately faced two defenders at the free-throw line.

He tried to split the defenders, was stripped and Jones got his fifth dunk of the game. This one basically sealed the win, making it 61-54 with 35 seconds remaining.

“That’s what I’ve been dealing with,” Joyner said. “Everybody trying to do their own thing instead of playing the way I coach them. That was Campbell’s man that rotated over for the double team. Campbell was standing there wide open. All he had to do was throw it to him and he was going to get up the court. That was easy. But we’re making everything harder than it should be.”

Hayes and Jones combined to hit 11 of 12 shots in the second half. Jones finished with 25 and Hayes 21. Campbell led Jacksonville with 22 points while Wolfe had 14 and Appleby 10.

The Red Devils finish the first 5A-Central round robin in third place behind McClellan and Mills (6-1). J.A. Fair is fourth at 4-3 while Pulaski Academy is 3-4, North Pulaski 2-5, Sylvan Hills 1-6 and Beebe 0-7.