Tuesday, November 17, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Jacksonville wins opener against WM

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville basketball team opened its season with a 67-61 win over West Memphis on Friday. The inexperienced Red Devils are still a work in progress, according to head coach Vic Joyner, but played as well as can be expected on Friday.

“A win is a win,” Joyner said. “It’s all on the job training right now. Everything right now is about getting ready for conference. Win, lose or draw, I don’t care. It’s all about conference. We aren’t ready to compete for a championship in this league right now, so we’re using this part of the season to try and get where we need to be to do that.”

The two teams stayed neck-and-neck through three quarters. The Red Devils led 31-30 at halftime, and the score was tied 43-43 at the end of the third period, but guard play made the difference in the fourth quarter.

Junior Tyree Appleby scored half of his team-high 20 points in the final frame, including hitting 4 of 4 free-throw attempts. Senior LaQuawn Smith scored nine of his 13 total points in the fourth quarter as well. Junior DeJuan Ridgeway also scored 13 points, including six in the third period when the Red Devils managed just 12 total.

“Guard play was stellar,” Joyner said. “We know we’re going to have to depend on the guards because we’re so small and inexperienced on the inside. The size is one thing, but we only have one player who really knows how to play the position. Big Mo (senior Maurice Lambert) played well. But we have people that just don’t know the position. We’re losing leverage, little things that it’s going to take a while before we can do it at game speed. If you wait for the post man to post up before you start playing post defense, you’re already halfway beat. We just have to learn those things and it’s going to take time.”

Lambert finished with eight points and Chris Williams contributed five to account for all but two of Jacksonville’s points in the paint. Antoine Davis and Harderrious Martin each hit a 3-pointer apiece to round out the Red Devils’ scoring.

West Memphis dropped to 0-2 after losing 56-46 last Tuesday at Little Rock Hall. The Blue Devils were led by guard Gary Ward’s game-high 21 points. Tevin Musley added 11 for West Memphis.

Jacksonville played at home against Hot Springs after Leader deadlines, and will play Forrest City at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the Searcy Bank Classic at Searcy High School. The Jacksonville boys will play the tournament host at 4:30 Saturday.

The Lady Devils (2-3) lost on Friday. They play in the Bank Classic at 4:30 p.m. Thursday against Blytheville. They will play Batesville at 4:30 p.m. Friday and Searcy at 6 p.m. Saturday.