Friday, December 04, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Devils fall to West Memphis

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville boys’ basketball team lost for the first time this season on Tuesday. The Red Devils gave the return match to West Memphis and lost 60-54 after leading most of the game. Jacksonville beat West Memphis 67-61 at JHS on Nov. 13, but couldn’t repeat the effort on the road.

Jacksonville coach Vic Joyner has said since the beginning of the season that wins and losses don’t matter much to him in these early games, instead focusing on gaining experience for a largely inexperienced team.

“This was a lot of those guys’ first time in a hostile environment like that on the road,” said Joyner. “We had that working against us. Kids just have to be in these situations to learn how to deal with it. It’s on the job training with most of these kids.”

Making matters even more difficult for the Red Devils on Tuesday was foul trouble. Junior guard Tyree Appleby, who has held or shared top-scoring honors in every game so far, did not play in the third quarter because of foul trouble, and fouled out midway through the fourth.

Senior LaQuawn Smith also played sparingly in the second half with foul trouble, but was able to finish the game on the court.

“We had to put a lot of young guys in there that had never dealt with that situation before,” Joyner said. “They couldn’t slow themselves down. They’re not used to the speed of the game at the varsity level yet. They know it’s faster than they’re used to, so they think they got to go fast all the time. It’s just a matter of experience.

“They were playing hard. They were trying their best, so I’m not going to fault anybody. They just have to keep being in these situations and they’ll get better.”

Jacksonville scored 17 points in each of the first two quarters. The Blue Devils trailed 34-28 at the half, but pulled to within one point in the third quarter, outscoring Jacksonville 14-9.

Red Devil junior Dejuan Ridgeway scored seven of the team’s nine points in the third. Senior post player Maurice Lambert scored the other two on a pair of free throws. Jacksonville (3-1) made just two shots from the field in the third as Appleby and Smith sat almost the entire quarter.

Shooting woes continued for Jacksonville in the fourth, many because of rushed, low percentage shot attempts. The Blue Devils, however, turned in their best scoring quarter of the game, posting 18 points and pulling away for the win.

West Memphis (3-2) also got a much more balanced scoring effort than in last month’s loss at JHS. In that game, Gary Ward was the only Blue Devil in double figures with 21 points.

On Tuesday, 10 Blue Devils scored. Demorius Hudson led the way with 13 points while Montavius Johnson scored 10. Ward and Dylan Gazo each scored eight for the home team.

Ridgeway was the only Red Devil in double figures with 18 points. Appleby scored eight while Lambert and post player Chris Williams scored seven apiece.

The Lady Red Devils (3-5) lost for the second time to West Memphis, falling 47-33 on Tuesday.

Jacksonville’s boys and girls hosted Vilonia last night and will host makeup games with Hot Springs on Monday. Look for details of those games in Wednesday’s edition of The Leader.