Tuesday, March 10, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Red Devils stung by Hornets

Leader sports editor

PARAGOULD – Jacksonville flirted with disaster after building a big first-half lead in the first round of the state tournament, but escaped with a victory. The Red Devils did it again in the second round and weren’t as fortunate. Maumelle scored with 2.6 seconds remaining to beat Jacksonville 51-49 Monday and advance to the semifinals in Class 5A at Greene County Tech.

The Red Devils (21-8) led by as much as 12 in the first half and held a 34-25 advantage at halftime. Offense broke down in the third quarter and was non-existent in the fourth.

Maumelle climbed to within 46-45 by the end of the third period, and Jacksonville managed just three points in the final eight minutes.

Even with such dismal offensive output, the Red Devils had the ball and a chance at the last shot of regulation. Senior Devin Campbell, who had scored nearly half the team’s points in the game, took the ball about 40 feet from the basket with 10 seconds remaining. He drove to the top of the key, spun to his right to the free-throw line, where Maumelle’s Darius Tate stripped the ball away. Hornet forward Tremont Robinson scooped up the loose ball on the run and hit the game-winning layup.

Monday’s game was similar to Jacksonville’s 71-63 win over Forrest City on Sunday. The Red Devils cruised to a 32-14 lead in the first half before allowing the Mustangs to pull to within 62-59.

“We’ve had a problem with focus and cohesion all year,” said Jacksonville coach Vic Joyner. “Since day one we’ve been trying to figure out how to play as a team. We just never found the right formula. But I don’t want to say anything negative about this team. I just want to say this. We lost almost all our production from last year. We’re rebuilding, and this group still went out and won 21 games. It was a struggle all year for everybody, and they still found a way to win 21 games. That’s phenomenal. If we could’ve found that chemistry and cohesion, it could’ve been better, but without it, to win 21 games is impressive.”

Despite the unfortunate circumstances of the final play, Campbell had a phenomenal tournament. He was the leading scorer in both games with 24 points in each one. He also had seven rebounds in both games. He went 4 for 4 from 3-point range in Monday’s loss and 8 for 8 from the free-throw line.

His efforts earned him a spot on the All-State Tournament Team.

Tedrick Wolfe finished Sunday’s victory near his season averages of 16 points and nine rebounds, but managed just two points on 2 of 4 free-throw shooting, and three rebounds against Maumelle. Junior guard Laquawn Smith scored 12 against Forrest City and was the only other Red Devil in double figures in either game.

A big key to Maumelle’s comeback was rebounding. The Hornets dominated the boards 37-27, despite losing 6-foot-3 guard-forward Gary Burton to a dislocated shoulder in the second quarter.

Maumelle had two players post double-doubles. Robinson finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds while post player Blake Conner had 10 points and 13 rebounds. Point guard Jimi Minix and reserve forward Demarion Johnson each contributed nine points for the Hornets.

One half the boys’ semifinals features two teams from the 5A-Central. League champion McClellan faced four seed J.A. Fair while Maumelle took on Hot Springs Tuesday in the semifinals after Leader deadlines. Hot Springs also overcame a 12-point deficit to beat Mills while J.A. Fair came back from a nine-point deficit to beat Vilonia in the other quarterfinal matchups on Monday.