Wednesday, December 23, 2015

SPORTY STORY >> Devils win first game with JLC

Leader sports editor

The first-ever varsity boys’ regular-season basketball game between Jacksonville High and Jacksonville Lighthouse Charter School was much more of a barnburner than the 72-62 score in favor of JHS might indicate. The Class 1A Wolves gave the 5A Red Devils all it could handle for three-and-a-half quarters Monday in the first day of the McDonald’s Red Devil Classic.

Jacksonville has struggled re-bounding this year, but JHS coach Vic Joyner has blamed his team’s lack of size, and complimented their effort in face of its disadvantages. But the Red Devils had no size disadvantage on Monday, and was, in fact the much bigger team. But they were still outrebounded, and by the biggest margin all season, 44-25.

Joyner had no compliments for his team’s effort on Monday.

“They wanted it more,” said Joyner. “That’s all that was. My kids didn’t see them as a threat, and didn’t take it serious. They didn’t take it serious in practice. I tried to explain that they were going to come in here, and try to make their whole season by whipping Jacksonville High. But you can’t get anything through kids’ heads. They had to look up at the end of the third quarter and see a tie game before they realized they were going to have to play.”

Lighthouse came out on fire, especially forward Zack Bobo, who hit three 3-pointers in the first quarter and led the Wolves to a 20-17 lead at the end of the period. But the fouls were piling up, and by the time 85 seconds had eclipsed from the second quarter, Lighthouse starters Jordan McNair and Cameron Shaffer were on the bench for the rest of the half with three fouls.

Red Devil senior LaQuawn Smith then got back-to-back transition layups, the second after a steal by sophomore Har’Derrious Martin. With two Lighthouse starters on the bench, Jacksonville outscored the Wolves 25-15 in the second quarter and took a 42-35 lead into halftime.

Shaffer picked up his fourth foul just 26 seconds into the third quarter, and sent ? Waller to the line, where he hit 1 of 2 for a 43-35 lead. The absence of the team’s only true post player didn’t faze the Wolves, who responded with a 10-0 run and took a 45-43 lead with 4:31 left in the third. Jacksonville then scored seven straight to take a 50-45 lead, but Bobo, who had been cold since the opening salvo, got heated up again. Bobo sailed through the lane to slam dunk a Chris Mims miss. After Jacksonville threw the ball away, Bobo hit a 3-pointer from the right corner to tie the game with a minute left in the third.

Jacksonville High’s Tyree Appleby then completed a 3-point play to send the Red Devils into the fourth quarter with a 53-50 lead.

Lighthouse went cold from the floor in the fourth quarter and JHS got hot from the line. The Red Devils made just 12 of their first 23 free-throw attempts, but made their last nine in a row over the final five minutes of the game, including six by Appleby.

The Wolves trailed 62-56 when they got three offensive rebounds and four shot attempts on one possession, and missed them all. Jacksonville’s Dujuan Ridgeway finally came away with the ball and was fouled. He hit both free throws for an eight-point lead and the Wolves were never closer than seven the rest of the way.

Joyner said a simple defensive adjustment was the difference in the game.

“They’re quick, got good guards,” Joyner said. “They were using the dribble drive and getting into the lane. You have to play hard to play good man-to-man, and we weren’t playing hard. So I switched us to a 2-3 zone, stopped the dribble drive. They weren’t hitting from outside, game over.”

Lighthouse was not hitting from outside after the first few minutes of the game. After making four of their first five attempts in the first quarter, the Wolves made just 3 of 20 the rest of the way. They were 15 of 43 from two-point range and 9 of 16 from the foul line. Bobo led the Wolves in scoring and rebounding with 23 points and 13 boards. Mims added 16 and McNair 12 for the Wolves.

Appleby led all scorers with 27 points Smith had 18 and Ridgeway 16 for JHS. Jacksonville was 4 of 9 from three-point range and 20 of 49 from inside the arc.