Saturday, November 12, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Titans come back on Zebras

Leader sports editor

Jacksonville’s boys’ basketball team won its season opener on Tuesday, winning on the road over Pine Bluff High School 68-63. The Titans had to overcome a 13-point second-quarter deficit, and did so with a simple change of strategy.

When Jacksonville coach Vic Joyner switched from man-to-man defense to a matchup zone, the tide began to change. Titan senior Tyree Appleby was the beneficiary of several leak-out dunks and hit a few big threes to turn in a stellar season-opening performance with 32 points.

“We weren’t closing out on shooters,” said Joyner. “We were sort of half defending, hoping they would miss. They got hot and we got into a little bit of hole. They base their offense on the dribble drive, and they kick it out to the shooters. I switched to a little matchup zone to stop that dribble drive. They went cold and weren’t getting back on defense. We were able to get some fast-break buckets and get back into the game.”

Pine Bluff led 20-14 at the end of the first period and then scored seven-straight to start the second quarter. That’s when Joyner changed defenses and the comeback began.

Appleby, who only had two points in the first period, hit two 3-pointers and scored 12 points in the second quarter, lead the rally.

Jacksonville trailed 35-30 at halftime, and the game stayed close throughout the third. The Titans then posted 22 points in the fourth when post play became a factor.