Tuesday, February 09, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Devils overcome late rally by Lady Falcons

Leader sports editor

The North Pulaski ladies were big underdogs going into the very last meeting ever between the Lady Falcons and crosstown rival Jacksonville Lady Red Devils, but someone forgot to tell the Lady Falcons. In the end, Jacksonville prevailed 41-34 Friday at the Devils’ Den, but not before getting a tough fight from NP.

“You have to just give North Pulaski credit for playing hard and fighting to get back in it,” said Jacksonville coach Crystal Scott. “We stepped up on defense and created some turnovers when we had to have them and was able to pull it out. We’re still beat up. We had another player have to sit out tonight. Both our point guards are limping around out there. Our leading scorer got hurt early in the game and wasn’t able to move around like she usually does. So I give our girls a lot of credit, too, for sucking it up and going ahead and getting the win.”

North Pulaski took an early 6-2 lead but Jacksonville dominated the rest of the half. Things got worse for NP when leading scorer Kiarra Evans picked up her third foul with 37 seconds left in the third quarter and had to take a seat on the bench. From 6-2, Jacksonville outscored North Pulaski 18-4 and took a 20-10 lead into the locker room at halftime.

The Lady Falcons’ (7-12, 3-6) climb back into the game was slow, despite Zaria Holloway hitting a 3-pointer to open the second half. Jacksonville scored four-straight after that and led 24-13 with 6:30 left in the third. Martina Knight answered with four-straight for NP and Aaliyah Bynum put back an Evans miss to make it 24-19 with 4:30 on the clock. Holloway then hit another 3-pointer 65 seconds later to cap a 9-0 run and pull the Lady Falcons to within 24-22 with 3:25 left in the third.

Scoring ceased for both teams for a couple of minutes before Desiree Williams hit a 3-pointer from the left corner, but NP answered with a basket by Evans to make it 27-24 going into the fourth.

Bynum scored 30 seconds into the final frame to make it a one-point game and the two teams traded baskets for the next three minutes with the Lady Red Devils clinging to the lead. North Pulaski had several possessions to take the lead and finally did when Holloway dished to Elisha Smith with 4:46 remaining to put the Lady Falcons up 30-29.

Scott called timeout and changed her defense to a full-court press that hounded NP into several turnovers and another scoring drought.

Alexis James scored out of the break and Williams went to the line for four-straight free throws after NP turnovers. Another turnover led to a Tatianna Lacy basket, and another turnover was followed by two offensive rebounds and a Lacy putback that put Jacksonville up 37-30 with 2:10 remaining in the game.

North Pulaski finally broke the press and scored, and then got a defensive stop. Evans got an offensive rebound and was fouled, but missed both free throws with 1:10 remaining.

North Pulaski got another chance when James air balled a free throw, and this time Evans scored after an offensive rebound with 39 seconds left that made it 37-34.

The Lady Falcons then got just what they needed when Williams missed the front end of a one-and-one, but Lacy spun around her defender for an offensive rebound and putback with 26 seconds to play that made it a five-point game and sealed the win.

NP missed at the other end and fouled James, who made both shots to set the final score.

Lacy led all players in two categories with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Williams added 11 for the Lady Red Devils. Smith and Bynum each scored eight to lead North Pulaski while Evans and Holloway scored six apiece.

Jacksonville (12-12, 6-3) dominated on the glass, outrebounding North Pulaski 37-23. The Lady Red Devils were 14 of 47 from the floor and 11 of 19 at the free-throw line. North Pulaski went 14 of 54 from the floor and 3 of 8 from the line.