Tuesday, February 10, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Jacksonville rallies for sweep of Beebe

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville Lady Red Devils picked up a huge win on Friday, rallying from behind to beat 5A-Central rival Beebe 42-38 to go a game up on the Lady Badgers in the knotted up league standings. The two teams entered Friday’s game at the Devils’ Den as two parts of a three-way tie for second place at 6-2 in conference play.

Jacksonville had gone to Beebe and hammered the Lady Badgers by 20, but Jacksonville coach William Rountree knew he was getting a much-improved team visiting his place than the one it played in early January.

“They’re better than they were and I think they proved it in this game,” said Rountree. “I thought they played well in just about every aspect, but sometimes your shots just aren’t falling and that’s what happened to them tonight.”

Beebe led at the end of every quarter except the fourth, making it an even tougher loss to take for Badger coach Greg Richey.

“You just have to hit your point-blank shots,” said Richey. “I don’t know how many we missed right there under the basket, but it was way too many. We didn’t shoot free throws very well either. We outplayed them. Their coach said so himself after the game. We just left too many points out there. We have got to shoot better than that.”

The Lady Badgers shot 26 percent from the floor on 14 of 54 shooting. They were also 7 of 17 from the free-throw line. Jacksonville made 16 of 44 shoots from the field, and hit the same number of free throws in only eight attempts.

“We made our free throws tonight and that’s big for us,” Rountree said. “Tatiana Lacy, who’s probably shooting less than 50 percent, stepped up and hit four out of four for us. I was also very proud to see her pull that ball down and drive in from outside. That got her to the line at a big moment and she knocked them down.”

Lacy’s drive and free throws came during an 8-0 Jacksonville run in the second quarter that gave the Lady Red Devils a 20-15 lead, but it was short-lived. Beebe closed the half with nine unanswered points and took a 24-20 lead into the third quarter.

Lady Devil sophomore Alexis James turned the game to Jacksonville’s favor with a remarkable two-minute stretch of play.

Beebe led 36-32 and was at the line for a 1-and-1 with 4:40 remaining. The first shot missed and Taylor Toombs got the rebound for Jacksonville. James took the ball on the left wing and penetrated for a floating jumper to make it 36-34. Taylor McGraw answered for Beebe with 3:30 remaining. James then got inside for another bucket with 3:08 left to make it 38-36 and Rountree called timeout to set up pressure defense.

It worked. Beebe threw the ball away, and on the ensuing possession, James drained a 3-pointer to put Jacksonville ahead for the first time since early in the second quarter.

After another Badger turnover, James penetrated again from the top of the key. This time Beebe closed off the lane with two defenders, but James made a nifty interior pass to Lacy who was fouled going up. She hit both free throws to make it 41-38 with 1:59 left in the game.

“You’ve got to recognize the play by sophomore Alexis James,” Rountree said. “That was a tremendous series by her, just a tremendous few minutes of basketball she played at a key moment in the game. You just can’t say enough about what she did for us tonight.”

Beebe’s final three possessions ended with two missed free throws, a steal by Jacksonville’s Jerika Hardaway and wild shot that would fall by Ashlyn Johnson with 15 seconds remaining.

Jacksonville senior Antrice McCoy led the Lady Red Devils with 17 points while James added 10. McGraw shared game-high honors with 17 points for Beebe while Johnson dropped in 11.