Friday, November 24, 2017

SPORTS STORY >> Titans round up Billies at home

Leader sports editor

Jacksonville was without its head coach, but got its first win of the season Tuesday, beating Monticello 64-44 at JHS. Head coach Vic Joyner is out indefinitely. A trip to the hospital on Monday ended in an unscheduled surgery and an undetermined timeline for his return to courtside with the Titans.

His assistant coach, Brandon Weems, will take over the head coaching duties in the interim. He was pleased with how the team played, especially without its head coach, without a starting post player and still searching for that first win.

“They had a lot on their minds,” said Weems. “Obviously they were playing for Vic, and they also wanted to get that first win out of the way. That first one is always tough, especially down 0-2 and guys are starting to second-guess themselves. There were some things I thought we could’ve been a little better at executing, but for the most part they had a pretty good game.”

Junior 6-foot-5 post Joe Phillips tried to play after suffering a foot injury in the previous game, but wasn’t able to go full speed. His fellow post, senior Christian White, did a great job of picking up the slack.

“If I had to give an MVP for the game it would go to Christian,” Weems said. “They had a big bruiser, a big kid in the middle, real strong kid. Christian was able to battle with him and not get into foul trouble. That’s been his Achilles his whole career. But that big kid, he’d been giving other people a lot of trouble, but he didn’t Christian. He played like a man.”

It was a night for Jacksonville seniors. While White held his own inside, three other senior Titans led the team in scoring. Guard Antoine Davis finished with 14, including 10 in the first half. Jacksonville held the Billies to five points in the first quarter while building an 11-point lead, but that was down to 31-26 by halftime.

Senior guard Caleb Kendrick hit three 3-pointers and also posted 10 first-half points for Jacksonville. Monticello came out in the third quarter with the express purpose of keeping Kendrick from getting open, so classmate Braylon Hawkins picked up the slack. He scored all 10 of his points in the second half.

Jacksonville came out refocused defensively and again held Monticello to just five points in the third quarter.

“I just told them to relax and have fun,” Weems said. “Joyner did a great job of getting them prepared for that team before he got sick. I knew this was a team we should take care of, so I just wanted to them relax and not try to do too much. They did a pretty good job of that. I think it will help start building confidence.”


The Jacksonville ladies won their home opener on Tuesday, and it was their second win in three games. The Lady Titans went up and down the floor with Monticello, and came away with a 71-65 victory.

Jacksonville set the tone early with 22 points in the first quarter, with Tori Briggs and Shy Christopher combining for 18 of those points. Monticello trailed by eight at the end of one, but outscored Jacksonville 19-15 in the second period to pull to within 37-32 by halftime.

It got even closer in the third quarter, but Monticello never found an answer to Christopher, Jacksonville’s super sophomore. Though the lead was down to three at 54-51 by the start of the fourth quarter, Christopher closed the game with 13 points in the fourth, giving her a game high 36 total.

It was the third consecutive game that Christopher has scored at least 35 points. And that was despite making just 7 of 16 free throw attempts. Jacksonville (2-4) made just 13 of 27 as a team while Monticello (1-1) hit 16 of 28.

Briggs was the only other Lady Titan in double figures with 17 points.

Shania Smith led Monticello with 20 while Mairah Austin scored 15.

The Jacksonville boys and girls go back on the road on Tuesday to take on Pine Bluff High.