Tuesday, November 08, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Titans win twice at JHS jamboree

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville boys’ basketball team hosted its annual jamboree on Saturday, playing one half each against eStem Charter and Hot Springs.

Jacksonville won against both teams, beating eStem 39-33 in a fast-paced matchup, and slipping past Hot Springs 38-36 in a game down to the wire.

In the opening game with eStem, the Mets jumped out to a quick lead. Jacksonville trailed 15-8 when head coach Vic Joyner put five new players in the game. The second team closed the gap to 21-18 by the end of the first quarter.

Joyner put his starters back on the floor and called for fullcourt pressure to start the second period. That led to several steals and transition buckets. Jacksonville scored the first eight points of the second period and never trailed again.

Senior guard Tyree Appleby and junior post player Christian White combined for seven transition dunks. Appleby led Jacksonville with 18 points while White finished with seven.

“That was a wide open game,” Joyner said. “That’s kind of how my kids like to play. We didn’t play great team defense. Fortunately for us, if people want to play that way, we have some guys that can get up and down the floor, too. But even in a game like that, we had a lot breakdowns defensively. We didn’t close out on shooters and stood around and watched too much. In this league, that’s going to have to change.”

The Titans were in close with the Trojans in the first quarter of game two. Louisiana Tech signee Exavion Christon leads Hot Springs, and he did most of his damage early.

Jacksonville led 17-16 at the end of the first period, but the starting unit put together a huge run early in the second.

Again, the Titans’ pressure forced several Hot Springs turnovers. Appleby got loose for a dunk and-one. DaJuan Ridgeway added a pair of 3-pointers as Jacksonville took a 34-22 lead with three minutes remaining.

Joyner pulled the starting unit, and the Trojans rallied. Christon scored six-straight points, but the end of his streak wasn’t the end of Hot Springs’ run. The Trojans scored nine-straight before Joyner reinserted his starters with a minute left. Christon added one more basket to complete the 11-0 run and make the score 34-33 with 40 seconds to go.

Ridgeway nailed a 16-footer from the baseline to put Jacksonville up by three, but the Trojans converted a 3-point play to tie the game at the other end.

Jacksonville held the ball as time ran down, and Appleby penetrated, pulled up and hit a 10-foot jumper in the lane with six seconds remaining.

Hot Springs called timeout to set up the last shot, but never got it off as Ridgeway deflected a pass as time expired.

“My plan originally was to let the backups stay in there that whole second period,” Joyner said. “But when they came back, I decided to put my starters back in to see how they would handle that situation. So overall it wasn’t bad. I’m looking at the big picture. I’m not worried about losing a 12-point lead in a jamboree. I’m trying to see who’s ready to play.”

Ridgeway led Jacksonville with 16 points against Hot Springs. Appleby had 14.

Jacksonville opened the regular season last night at Pine Bluff after Leader deadlines. They will play at Mills on Friday, and host Mills the following Friday in the Titans’ home opener on Nov. 18.