Friday, January 23, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Red Devils run away in fourth

Leader sports editor

The North Pulaski Falcons didn’t just stay close with Jacksonville for a half; they led most of the first two quarters. But a long scoring drought eventually turned into a Jacksonville rout as the Red Devils dominated the fourth quarter for a 72-47 victory Tuesday at JHS.

North Pulaski jumped ahead 24-19 when De’Marik Brown sank two free throws with 4:51 left in the second quarter after a steal.

The two teams traded two baskets each for the next minute, leaving the Falcons with a 28-23 lead with 3:50 on the clock. After a second-straight penetration into the lane by two different Falcons, Jacksonville coach Vic Joyner switched his defense from man-to-man to a 2-3 zone, and North Pulaski’s offense stalled.

“They kept getting into the lane because we weren’t playing good defense,” said Joyner. “They were just dribbling around us and there was no help, or it was late. I think we took them lightly. I switched to a zone and they didn’t hit from outside. I still don’t feel like we were playing very good defense until about the fourth quarter, which is something we’ve been doing a lot lately. They just didn’t make their shots.”

The Falcons continued to play good defense after Jacksonville switched to the zone. North Pulaski had four possessions with the five-point lead, but couldn’t score.

Jacksonville’s Devin Campbell finally ended Jacksonville’s two-minute scoring drought with a bucket that made it 28-25 with two minutes left in the second quarter. Craig Watson came off the bench and scored four-straight, all from the free-throw line and both trips after steals. The Red Devils took a 31-28 lead into halftime, and both teams came out struggling in the third.

Neither team scored for more than half of the third quarter. The score remained 31-28 until Tedrick Wolfe hit a layup on a designed inbounds play with 3:48 remaining in the thirdquarter. Watson added another bucket for Jacksonville to make it 35-28. North Pulaski (3-12, 1-4) then missed a wide-open layup and four-straight free throws before Brown finally hit a 3-pointer with 2:02 remaining in the third to end a nearly 10-minute dry streak.

Jacksonville ended the period with five-straight points in the last 30 seconds on a drive by Campbell and a 3-pointer by LaQuawn Smith, giving Jacksonville a 40-31 lead and the momentum.

“My guys played their hearts out all night long,” said North Pulaski coach Roy Jackson. “Coach Joyner did a good job of using his bench and his role players did a good job for him. We just got tired in the fourth quarter. I didn’t go as deep down my bench and I usually do and maybe I should have.

“I just have to find ways for us to score against the zone. When we played against PA we didn’t do too good about their zone, or against Fair and their zone. I’ve got to try to find somebody who can get inside that we can throw that ball to. That zone just gets longer and longer when you don’t have anybody inside. But it was nine points going into the fourth quarter. That score was not indicative of the game. It was a lot closer game than that. But you know what they say, sometimes that’s just how the cookie crumbles.”

Jacksonville made its first five shots of the fourth quarter in rapid succession – the last two were 3-pointers by Watson and Lakalon Huskey. That gave the Red Devils a 52-35 lead and forced an NP timeout, but it didn’t stem the tide.

Wolfe and Campbell continued to get open on the low post, and three more Red Devil bench players drained 3-pointers. For the second time in three games, eight different players made 3-point baskets for Jacksonville, and none of them were by Campbell, who leads the team in 3-pointers made this season.

“I don’t know that I’ve had a team with this many guys who can stand around that perimeter and make shots,” Joyner said. “We’ve had a lot of good shooters come through here, but I don’t know if we’ve ever had this many all on one team.”

North Pulaski went 1 for 15 from the field and 0 for 4 from the foul line in the third quarter, and 5 of 32 from the floor in the second half.

Jacksonville (16-2, 5-0) finished the game hitting 26 of 63 shot attempts, including 9 of 26 from outside the 3-point arch. But the Devils were 11 of 21 in the fourth quarter and 5 of 9 from 3-point range.

Campbell led all players with 15 points and eight rebounds. Wolfe added 14 points and six boards while Watson scored nine for Jacksonville. Breon Baker led North Pulaski with 11 points.