Wednesday, February 25, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> JHS seniors lead way to rout of Mills

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville Lady Red Devils celebrated senior night with one of their best performances in recent weeks, hammering Mills University Studies 77-51 at the Devils’ Den on Friday. Jacksonville’s two seniors added icing to the cake by each having games worthy of the ceremony that honored them beforehand.

Point guard Antrice McCoy turned in a tremendous all-around performance, scoring a game and season high 31 points, grabbing seven rebounds and dishing out six assists.

Post player Jerika Hardaway scored six points, picked up four steals and dominated the glass with 13 rebounds.

“Look, two great seniors,” said Jacksonville coach William Rountree. “Antrice has got to be leading the league in scoring. She played some on the state championship team as a sophomore. She started for our quarterfinal team last year, but she was just a role player. She has totally changed her role, and done a great job accepting the fact that she had to be a leader and scorer for us. For my money, there’s not a better point guard in 5A.

“Jerika is one who, as a coach, you just never forget. She barely saw the floor her first two years, but she stuck with it. She’s had to do things in her personal life at 16, 17 years old, that I don’t know if I could handle at 48 or 49. She’s just a tremendous young lady and has been a big part of this team’s success.

“Jacksonville does a great job of making a big deal out of senior night and honoring these kids, and I’m very happy those two had a great game.”

The Lady Red Devils’ dominance began about three minutes into the game. Jacksonville led 9-8 with 4:58 left in the opening frame, but ended the quarter with a 28-8 advantage.

Hardaway started the run with a steal out of Mills’ half-court set that she took the distance for a layup. That was the only Comet turnover of the run, but Jacksonville’s defense forced Mills into rushed shots that wouldn’t fall.

Following the first missed shot by the Comets, junior Desiree Williams hit a 3-pointer to make it 14-8. McCoy then grabbed a rebound under the basket and drove from goal to goal for a layup. Junior Tatiana Lacy put back a McCoy miss on the next possession and Hardaway put back a Lacy miss to end the quarter.

Jacksonville’s Asiah Williams sank a 3-pointer to start the second quarter to cap the 14-0 run with 6:50 left in the half. Mills trimmed one point from the margin with a basket by Mackenzie Tillman that made it 28-14, but the Lady Red Devils closed the second quarter with a similar run to the one that ended the first.

Desiree Williams started a 13-2 run with a 25-foot 3-pointer that made it 31-14, and the Lady Devils led 41-16 at the break.

A 10-minute rest didn’t stop Jacksonville’s momentum. The Lady Red Devils (13-10, 8-4) opened the second half with a blistering 16-2 run to lead by 39 at 57-18 with five minutes left in the third quarter. But Jacksonville’s defensive focus began to wane at that point, as did most of the starters’ playing time.

Mills, which had managed only 18 points in two-and-a-half quarters, scored 18 more in the final four minutes of the third to pull within the 30-point mercy-rule margin at 64-36 by the start of the fourth.

Jacksonville finally did invoke the mercy rule when junior Emily Lovercheck hit a baseline jumper to make it 73-43 with 5:10 remaining in the game.

Jacksonville utterly dominated the glass. The Lady Devils grabbed 47 rebounds to just 14 for Mills (12-14, 3-9).

McCoy was the only Lady Red Devil in double digits scoring, and Hardaway was the only one in double digits rebounding, but 10 different players scored and 10 different players got at least two rebounds.

Eight different Lady Red Devils scored at least two baskets. Desiree Williams was second in scoring with eight points. Taylor Toombs had seven points and six rebounds.

Lacy had six points and seven rebounds. Alexis James scored six points. Asiah Williams had five points and two rebounds and Kiara Summerville came off the bench for four points and four rebounds.

Jessica Scott led Mills with 26 points while Tillman added 10 for Mills.