Friday, January 30, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Devils come back

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville Lady Red Devils overcame a slow start to pull off a home win over McClellan on Tuesday, beating the Lady Lions 49-37. Rebounding and second-chance points won the game for Jacksonville on a night when it shot poorly. The Lady Devils shot just 26 percent from the floor on 18 of 70 shooting, but outrebounded the much bigger Lady Lions 48-27.

“That’s good because we needed it tonight,” said Jacksonville coach William Rountree. “We sure didn’t shoot it very well.”

Jacksonville (10-8, 5-2) missed its first seven shots and didn’t score until almost halfway through the first quarter. But when it did finally score on an Antrice McCoy running jumper, it tied the game. While Jacksonville wasn’t making shots, McClellan wasn’t getting any. The Jacksonville defense forced four turnovers early, but finally moved ahead with 4:46 on the clock when 6-foot-3 Justina Larigan hit a turnaround jumper from the low block.

McClellan (4-11, 3-4) then heated up from outside, hitting three 3-pointers the rest of the quarter and taking a 13-9 lead into the second period.

The Lady Lions also scored the first four points of the second quarter to move ahead by eight. With 5:30 left in the first half, they got their biggest lead of the game at 20-11 on another Larigan bucket.

Jacksonville got the lead down to five with 1:40 remaining on a putback by Kiarra Summerville, then got it to four on a 3-pointer by McCoy that made it 24-20.

Both teams got a few more possessions, but all three of Jacksonville’s resulted in rushed shots and misses by McCoy. The senior point guard became frustrated and was practically walking off the court when her man shot a 3-pointer from the top of the key at the buzzer.

“She’s lucky they missed it,” Rountree said. “Things like that can change a game.”

The score was still 24-20 at halftime, but sophomore Taylor Toombs played a big role in changing that quickly in the third quarter. She scored the first points of the second half with a pair of free throws with 6:50 on the clock. She then made a nice entry pass to a wide-open Tatiana Lacy, who scored to tie the game.

Lacy then took a charge, and McCoy scored at the other end to give Jacksonville its first lead of the game with 6:02 remaining in the third.

McClellan’s Sasha Casey nailed a 3-pointer to briefly put her team back in front, but a foul and then a technical foul on Andrea Meadows sent Jacksonville to the line where McCoy made both shots. That gave the Lady Red Devils a 28-27 lead with 3:59 left in the third, and they never trailed again.

But the home team didn’t separate right away. In fact, it made just one more basket over the next three and a half minutes, and McClellan tied the game with 36 seconds left in the third. Jacksonville’s Desiree Williams hit a 3-pointer to make it 34-31 going into the fourth.

Williams also hit a deep 3-pointer with five minutes remaining that made it 40-33 and kicked off a 9-0 Jacksonville run that sealed the game.

“She played well tonight,” Rountree said of Williams. “She’s capable of a lot more than she’s doing right now. She’s a talented player. She just has to take it more seriously. But she was good tonight. Those 12 points helped us on a night when we weren’t shooting well at all.”

McCoy led all scorers with 22. Ophelia Perez led McClellan with 12 points while Casey scored 10. Five different Lady Devils finished with at least five rebounds, led by Jerrica Hardaway’s 12.

Through one round robin in the 5A-Central, Jacksonville is 5-2 and in a three-way tie for second place with Sylvan Hills and Beebe. Pulaski Academy is first at 7-0. McClellan is fifth at 3-4; North Pulaski is 2-5, Mills 1-6 and J.A. Fair 0-7.