Friday, December 11, 2015

SPORTS >> Late mistakes cost Red Devils victory

Leader sports editor

Jacksonville played its second-straight overtime game on Thursday, but wasn’t able to make it two wins in a row.

After beating Hot Springs in overtime at home on Monday, the Red Devils lost 75-71 to Lee’s Summit West in the first round of the Bulldog Holiday Invitational at Fayetteville High School.

Titan post players Aaron Stepanek and Grant Bishop proved too much inside for the much smaller Red Devils.

“They’re a veteran team with a lot of seniors,” said Jacksonville coach Vic Joyner. “They had that big boy inside (Stepanek) and we couldn’t do anything with him. We got him in foul trouble early and were able to control most of the game. But he came back late and made a difference.”

Stepanek’s biggest basket was the last one in regulation. Jacksonville led 71-69 when the Titans missed a shot from outside. Stepanek came down with the rebound, but Jacksonville’s Tyree Appleby knocked the ball loose. LSW came up with the loose ball and fed Stepanek inside for the game-tying basket just before the buzzer.

“They beat us for the 50-50 ball and threw it in to the big boy,” Joyner said. “Of course he just went up over all of us and laid it in there.

“We didn’t make good decisions in overtime. We took some bad shots and had some unforced errors.”

The Red Devils jumped out to a 10-point lead in the first quarter and settled for a 20-13 advantage by the start of the second period. The Titans closed to within 32-29 by halftime. They briefly took the lead early in the third quarter, but Jacksonville regained a 46-45 advantage by the start of the fourth period.

LaQuawn Smith led Jacksonville with 29 points while Appleby finished with 11 and Braylin James 10.

Jacksonville played a rematch with Hot Springs last night after Leader deadlines. The Trojans took tournament host Fayetteville to four overtimes on Thursday before falling 76-70.

The winner of that game will play last night’s winner between Harrison and Springfield Hillcrest at 11:30 a.m. today. The losers of those two games play at 10 a.m. today. Hillcrest lost to Springdale High while Harrison fell 74-59 to North Little Rock.