Friday, February 27, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Red Devils earn sweep of Falcons

Leader sports editor

Jacksonville picked up a 5A-Central sweep of cross-town rival North Pulaski on Thursday. The Lady Devils rolled the hosting Falcons 61-28 while the Jacksonville boys pulled out a hard-fought 52-42 victory.

In the girls’ game, North Pulaski went toe to toe with Jacksonville early, and took an 11-10 lead into the second quarter. That’s when everything changed. Jacksonville’s defensive pressure began to bother the Lady Falcons’ ballhandlers, and the rout was on.

Jacksonville outscored North Pulaski 23-4 in the second quarter to take a 33-15 lead into halftime.

“We were pressuring the whole time, we just weren’t making anything early,” said Jacksonville coach William Rountree. “We were 0 for 4 from the free-throw line, plus I think Antrice (McCoy) was getting fouled pretty hard and wasn’t getting any calls. But we started hitting in the second quarter and I think when we did that, they started forcing some things and we were able to turn them over quite a few times.”

North Pulaski coach Stacey Dalmut said the difference in how her team attacked the pressure between the first and second quarters was obvious, and led to the downfall.

“They turned up the heat and we just wanted to dribble through it instead of running our press break,” said Dalmut. “So we began to turn it over.”

Rountree likes that his team went into the Falcons’ Nest and came away with an easy win, something most teams haven’t done this year.

“I feel pretty good about how we played,” Rountree said. “Their record’s not very good, but when you compare scores to their other home games, they played everybody pretty close until tonight.”

Jacksonville outscored NP 21-8 in the third quarter for a 54-23 lead, invoking the sportsmanship rule in the fourth period.

McCoy led all scorers with 24 points while sophomore guard Alexis James added 13 for Jacksonville. Raigen Thomas was the only Lady Falcon in double figures, finishing with 12 points.

The boys’ game was close throughout, but Jacksonville maintained the lead most of the game. The Red Devils led 10-9 after one quarter and 22-17 at the half. North Pulaski was able to keep Jacksonville from cranking up the pace and kept it a half-court game most of the time. But the Red Devils’ inside game proved the difference.

Senior Tedrick Wolfe finished with 23 points for the Red Devils (19-7, 9-4). LaQuawn Smith added 14 and Devin Campbell scored 11.

Senior De’Marik Brown led North Pulaski with 23 points while Brandon England finished with 14.

Jacksonville played league-leading McClellan Friday after Leader deadlines, but the Red Devils are locked in as the No. 3 seed in the state tournament regardless of that outcome. They will play their first-round game at 2:30 p.m. Thursday against the second seed from the 5A-East, which as of Friday, could still be Forrest City, Valley View or Paragould.