Monday, January 25, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Jacksonville splits with Lions

Leader sports editor

A second half surge lifted the Lady Red Devils on Tuesday, but a buzzer beater sent the boys home in defeat Tuesday at Little Rock McClellan. The Jacksonville girls turned a one-point halftime lead into a 53-36 win while Raymond Harris went off for 38 points, including the game winner, to lead the Crimson Lions past the Red Devils 72-70.

In the girls’ game, Jacksonville clung to a 24-23 lead at halftime against the 2-7 Lady Lions. The defense stiffened up and senior guard Desiree Williams got hot from the floor, scoring 12 points in the third to lead the Lady Red Devils to a 38-29 lead. Williams scored six more in the fourth as Jacksonville continued to stretch its lead throughout the second half.

“Desiree kind of put us on her back and carried us in this one,” said Jacksonville coach Crystal Scott. “This one was just a matter of when we decided we were going to play. This is the second time we’ve done this – messed around for a half, and we’ve got some big ones coming up. We can’t let this become a habit.”

Jacksonville entered the game with only eight players, will be down to just seven when it plays Sylvan Hills on Tuesday. Senior guard Emily Lovercheck was ejected on Tuesday, and since Friday’s game with PA was postponed due to weather, she must sit out next Tuesday’s game against Sylvan Hills.

Scott conceded that Lovercheck should have maintained her composure, but also took up for her senior guard.

“She stole the ball, and the girl just grabbed her around the head,” Scott said. “She slung her around and when she let go, Emily sort of swung at her, and he ejected her. This is the second one I’ve lost for a game because of stuff like this. As bad as the foul was on her, we’ve got to learn. You cannot retaliate, especially as thin as we are. We have to keep our composure.

“But I told the ref, it don’t have to be a punch to get an ejection. And I thought the girl’s foul should at least have been a flagrant foul.”

Williams led all scorers with 26 points while Alexis James added 11 for Jacksonville. Shawntay Casey scored 15 to lead McClellan.

In the boys’ game, Harris hit two 3-pointers in the first quarter, and it was a sign of things to come. The 5-foot-10 transfer senior hit seven 3-pointers in the game, but was also effective getting into the lane. Jacksonville rallied from a 67-63 deficit with two minutes left to take a 69-68 lead with a minute remaining, but couldn’t hit from the floor and went just 1 of 2 from the foul line. McClellan called timeout with nine seconds left and spread the floor for Harris. He broke down two Jacksonville defenders and lofted an off balance, contested shot over 6-7 Kameron Hamilton that bounced high off the glass and fell in as time expired.

Karson Hayes added 12 for McClellan while Derrick Brooks scored 10. Tyree Appleby scored 18 to lead Jacksonville. LaQuawn Smith added 17 and Bralyn James scored 11.

McClellan (8-10, 3-2) hit 17 of 22 free throws, including 10 of 11 in the second half.
Jacksonville was 16 of 21, but after missing the first free throw of the game and not missing again through three quarters, missed its first four of the fourth.