Wednesday, December 09, 2015

SPORTS >> JHS girl's offensive struggles continue

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville Lady Red Devils were shorthanded in Monday’s game against Hot Springs, and lost 46-29 to the Lady Trojans at JHS. It was Jacksonville’s second-straight 17-point loss, following a 51-34 defeat at the hands of Vilonia on Friday, also at JHS.

In Monday’s game, the Lady Devils were without junior point guard Alexis James, who was ejected, along with a Lady Eagle, from Friday’s game for a physical altercation.

The Lady Trojans’ inside-outside game of point guard Ariana Guinn and post player Keynoso Hunter was too much for Jacksonville on Monday.

Jacksonville also suffered a terrible shooting night, hitting just 10 of 46 shot attempts and 6 of 14 free throws.

Jacksonville was solid on defense most of the night, but could never get the offense on track. The struggles started immediately when Hot Springs opened the game in a 3-2 zone and Jacksonville got little movement on offense. After watching her team pass the ball around the perimeter for nearly a minute, Jacksonville coach Crystal Scott called timeout with 6:20 on the clock of a scoreless game.

Three minutes into the game, Jacksonville had three possessions, three turnovers and no shot attempts, but only trailed 2-0.

The Trojans began switching defenses with each possession, going from the 3-2 to a 2-3 and then to a man defense. Jacksonville’s Asiah Williams finally scored with 4:10 left in the first quarter to tie the game at 2-2.

Things began to open up over the last three minutes of the opening period, and the Lady Trojans took an 11-7 lead into the second quarter. Offenses bogged down again in the second quarter, especially for Jacksonville.

The Lady Devils did not score at all in the second period, going 0 for 7 from the floor, 0 for 4 at the free-throw line and committing nine turnovers. But Jacksonville’s defense stayed strong. With 1:43 left in the half, Hot Springs’ lead was only 15-7, but Hunter scored twice before halftime to give her team a 19-7 lead at the break.

Guinn became a factor in the second half. She scored 11 of her game-high 17 points in the final two quarters as the Lady Trojans began to pull away.

Without its point guard and most experienced ball handler, Jacksonville’s offense continued to struggle.

Guinn scored two quick buckets to start the third quarter to give her team a 23-7 lead. The Lady Devils didn’t score a bucket from the 30-second mark of the first quarter until 4:10 remained in the third. After three free throws earlier in the period, Jacksonville finally scored from the floor when Payton Matheny got to the rim to make it 26-12.

Jacksonville trailed 33-18 at the end of the third and 36-18 seconds into the fourth. The Lady Devils made some defensive adjustments and climbed back to within nine with 90 seconds remaining in the game. But Hot Springs, which had made just 3 of its first 14 free-throw attempts, hit 5 of 6 down the stretch, and added a 3-pointer at the buzzer to set the final margin.

Guinn led all scorers with 17 points while Hunter added 13. Hot Springs dominated the glass 36-25. Desiree Williams and Asiah Williams each scored nine for Jacksonville.

In Friday’s game, Jacksonville held a 22-21 lead at halftime, but was outscored 21-6 in the third quarter. Lady Eagle Alexis Burnham came off the bench and hit three 3-pointers to spark the Vilonia run. Sydney Wader and Sarah Brantley also hit long-range shots in the third as Vilonia scored 15 of its 21 from outside.

The Lady Eagles only scored two field goals in the fourth quarter, but hit enough free throws to hold off Jacksonville.

Wader led all scorers with 22 points while Aaiiyah Cash added 10 for Vilonia. Lacy led Jacksonville with 12 points and Desiree Williams scored 11.

The Lady Devils (4-7) played at Mount St. Mary Academy on Tuesday. Look for details of that game in Saturday’s edition of The Leader.