Thursday, February 19, 2015

TOP STORY >> Letter from '78 finally arrives

Leader staff writer

A letter mailed to Cabot in 1978 from Greenville, Texas, nearly 37 years ago, was delivered last week by the post office.

When Bettee Pacheco of 17 Morgan St. went to her mailbox on Thursday with her
11-year-old granddaughter, Kyla Welsh, they found a letter addressed to Eva Bratcher of 14 Morgan St. The envelope did not have a return address.

Postal markings show that the letter was first canceled on March 18, 1978, and then again last week on Feb. 11 in Little Rock.

A note said it was from Mandy, and the letter was marked “Do not destroy.”

Neighbors believe that Bratcher passed away in the 1990s. Her home was across the street from Pacheco’s. The house is no longer there, and the property is owned by the school district.

Pacheco said the envelope was torn when it was delivered.

Inside was a two-page letter written on lined handwriting paper.

The letter was from Mandy Bratcher, a first grader from Greenville, Texas. It was dated March 18, 1978.

“I’m surprised it went through another cancelation on a machine,” Pacheco said.

Having worked as a postal clerk in Little Rock for 26 years, she speculates that the letter might have been stuck in a sorting machine for years.

“It makes me wonder where it’s been all this time,” Pacheco said.  

Cabot postmaster John Gentry said, “This is very rare, having something this old.”

He was shown the letter on Friday and said the envelope was the oldest he’d seen come through the post office.

Here is the letter’s text as it was written:

“Hi Grandma an Sandy.

“I miss both of you. I wish i was going to be there Easter.

“So that Sandy could hide the egg’s for me.

“I love both of you.

“love Mandy Bratcher.”

TOP STORY >> Storm hurries baby's arrival

Leader staff writer

Little Brennan Adamski is doing fine after coming into the world on the seat of his parent’s pickup truck in a hospital parking lot at the height of Monday’s winter storm.

But so much more happened that, when Brennan is old enough to understand, he may still not believe it: From dad driving into the wrong parking lot, to a bloody grandmother scaring hospital staff, to the umbilical cord around his neck.

The night started out very calm for Cabot couple Lauren and David Adamski, knowing the weather was getting bad, but also thinking they had two weeks left before delivery. Lauren headed to bed, and David was taking care of some work.

Lauren said she got up to use the restroom and, as she stood up from the bed, her water broke. “I knew it was time to go,” Lauren said. But she wasn’t feeling any pain, so she took a shower and David got things ready.

“All of a sudden, I got hit with excruciating pain. It was time to go,” she said.

Even with the pain, the couple went 10 minutes out of their way to pick up grandmother, thinking time was on their side.

Lauren’s doula, whom she hired because she wanted to have her baby naturally in the hospital, followed behind.

“She talked to me on the way to keep me calm, but the pain was getting worse. My mom said to get on my knees and maybe that would help. All the time, David is tying to keep the vehicle on the road and not slip on any patches of ice.”

By the time the couple got to Sherwood early Monday morning, Brennan’s head had popped out. Lauren said David kept telling her it would be just a few more minutes. “I don’t have a few more minutes,” Lauren told him.

David pulled into the Springhill Baptist Hospital parking lot. He discovered it was the wrong lot, but he also had no time left.

David ran to the passenger door and cradled his son’s head.

“But the shoulders wouldn’t come out, so David reached in and gently got him out. The cord was around his neck, but David unwrapped it and placed Brennan on my chest,” Lauren recalled.

While David was busy birthing a baby, grandmother, who Lauren said was freaking out as much as she was, ran into the hospital to get help. “She was covered in my blood, and the hospital staff thought someone had been murdered in the parking lot. They kept asking who got shot?” Lauren quipped.

And where was the doula?

When the head came out near Sherwood, David stepped on the gas and — by the time the doula got to the parking lot — the baby was born naturally, but not quite in the hospital.

Once Brennan was on Lauren’s chest, David told her to clean out his mouth and rub him. He then drove up to the right door, where the hospital staff met them.

They put Lauren in a wheelchair and into a room and whisked the baby away, worried about exposure.

“They kept him under heat, and we got to hold him for just a little while, but then the doctors were worried about his oxygen level and took him back again.”

But, by late Monday, Lauren and Brennan were reunited. “We are all stable, and he is just perfect at 6 pounds and 11 ounces. He cuddled and slept through the night. And it was good to feed him,” mom said.

Lauren praised her husband’s calmness. “I was freaking out,” she said.

But David said he had no other choice that he was just taking care of his family, which — besides Brennan — includes a 2-year-old daughter.

TOP STORY >> Winter storm is behind us

Leader staff writer

Brian Cagle with Ivy Hall Wrecker Service in Jacksonville said, despite nearly an inch of sleet Monday, business was pretty slow. “It was a holiday and, with the schools closed to begin with, most people just stayed in.”

Sherwood police Sgt. Berny Russell said, “Knock on wood, it’s been very quiet. People had the good sense to stay at home.”

The winter storm blew in late Sunday, and the National Weather Service had been following it and warning residents for days. But what the NWS wasn’t sure about was whether the area would get rain, ice, sleet, freezing rain or snow. It got everything but the snow Sunday night, leaving 0.8 of an inch of sleet on the ground in most places around Little Rock Air Force Base.

Brad Hutslar with Cabot Wrecker echoed what Cagle had to say. “It’s been no busier than normal. We did respond Monday to two weather-related accidents and pulled about five vehicles out of ditches. But most people just stayed at home.”

Another dusting hit the area late Tuesday night, coating the area with less than a half-inch of snow.

Another possible wintry mix is set to hit the area late Friday as high temperatures all week are predicted to stay below 40 degrees.

Jacksonville Public Works Director Jimmy Oakley said city road crews started working the streets about 11 p.m. Sunday. “We split our crews and worked 12-hour shifts,” he said.
Oakley added that it was an opportunity for the city to use two new spreaders and its very first snowplow.

But “with it being mostly sleet that was packed down, the plow didn’t clear off as much as we would have liked,” he said. “It really helped that drivers stayed home.”

Sherwood Fire Chief David Teague said the department responded to one weather-related wreck around 9 or 10 p.m. Monday. A car spun out and hit the wall on Hwy. 67/167 near the Wildwood Avenue exit. Minor injuries were reported.

He said firefighters also helped two people who fell on the ice Tuesday. Both were taken to the hospital for their injuries, which included at least one broken arm.

Teague said the ice slowed fire trucks down to 25 mph, but he told the staff to take their time because rushing could mean going into a ditch and not arriving at the scene of an incident. “We want to make sure we get there,” the chief noted.

He also said many firefighters working the Monday shift came into work early on Sunday evening to avoid the expected ice storm. “We do that a lot,” Teague added.

Cabot Fire Capt. Dwayne Boswell said the department responded to a few sledding accidents in which kids hit their heads.

But he didn’t think there were any serious injuries reported. Boswell wasn’t sure, but he didn’t think any of the kids needed to go to the hospital.

A vehicle rolled over on West Main Street in front of Splash Car Wash on Monday evening, he said, but no one was seriously injured.

Several Cabot firefighters also spent Sunday night at their stations instead of braving the icy roads that had been predicted.

Jacksonville Fire Battalion Chief Eddie Hill said the holiday helped keep accidents and ambulance calls down. “We did have some runs because of falls, but, overall, it wasn’t that busy,” he said.

Police Chief Kenny Boyd said police responded to three minor accidents caused by the weather. “There were no injuries,” the chief said, adding that the department also assisted State Police with a few accidents on Hwy. 67/167.

Boyd also said that a town-hall meeting set for Tuesday night was canceled. “Some neighborhood roads are still icy, so we’ll reset it for another day,” he explained.

Cabot canceled its garbage pickup for Monday and Tuesday. The civil and small claims court held sessions Tuesday afternoon, but the judge extended leniency to those who could not attend because of road conditions.

Cabot Public Works Director Brian Boroughs said there were no major problems with the city’s streets. “We were very fortunate, and the sun Tuesday helped us a lot,” he said.

The Cabot Parks and Recreation Commission moved up its Tuesday night meeting to 4 p.m. so no one would get stuck in the bad weather.

Soldiers and airmen from the Guard’s 87th Troop Command in North Little Rock, the 39th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, the 142nd Field Artillery and the Air National Guard’s 189th Airlift Wing from Little Rock Air Force Base deployed across the state to assist state troopers in conducting traffic control, to transport troopers to patrol the major highways and in reaching accident locations and to assist motorists as necessary.

In all, 20 military teams were dispatched early Sunday afternoon.

At the peak of the operations Monday, the Arkansas National Guard had 18 missions working and 78 soldiers and airmen on active duty. As the weather situation improved, some Guard teams were released. But, as of Monday, the Guard still had 10 ongoing missions with 45 of its members deployed.

The storm caused schools to cancel classes and activities Monday and Tuesday.

For the Pulaski County Special School District, that means just Tuesday will have to be made up at the end of the year. Students were already scheduled to be off Monday, but teachers were supposed to report for staff development.

One principal said those hours most likely will be made up in segments after the school day between now and the end of the year.

Cabot had Monday listed as a snow make up day, but, since it had not lost any days to bad weather, it became a school holiday. The district will have to make up just one day.

Beebe was set to have school Monday, so it will most likely have to make up two days between now and the end of the year. Also, parent-teacher conferences that were set for Tuesday were rescheduled for Thursday.

Icy rain is forecast to hit the area Friday morning, with rain continuing through the weekend.

The first day the area is expected to see 50 degrees, which is still about five degrees under the average, will be next Tuesday, according to NWS.

(Leader staff writer Sarah Campbell contributed to this article.)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

EDITORIAL >> New district will rebuild

The Jacksonville School District, which is working toward a complete separation from the Pulaski County Special School District, is floating several new ideas that will improve schools. Plans include closing at least one old school in the new district — some of the buildings are 50 years or older — and consolidating two high schools into a new campus near the air base.

According to a proposal announced last week, Jacksonville Middle School will close at the end of the school year and students will transfer for one year to Northwood Middle School, which is about five miles west of town. They will then transfer to North Pulaski High School, which will become the new middle school. North Pulaski is 36 years old, making it one of the newest structures in Jacksonville. Most of the other schools are ancient and rundown, which is one reason Jacksonville split from PCSSD.

Jacksonville High School was at the middle school half a century ago, but the campus soon became outdated. It looks more like a reformatory than a school. It’s not a friendly place for learning. The county district let schools crumble in Jacksonville while new campuses went up in Maumelle, Sherwood and Little Rock.

Because Jacksonville schools were neglected for decades, academic achievement has fallen. But there is good news: Jacksonville High School is no longer on the state’s watch list of failing schools. (The state is discussing whether Cabot’s Alternative Learning Academy and Beebe’s Badger Academy should return to the list of academically distressed schools.)

Interim Superintendent Bobby Lester understands the new district needs a complete overhaul and probably a millage increase. A combined new high school campus is planned on the outskirts of Little Rock Air Force Base, which will have easy access to the high school and the new middle school.

There’s also a Lighthouse charter middle school on the air base. A couple of miles away, the Lighthouse elementary and high schools continue to grow. They’re good examples of what modern campuses should look like: Bright, cheery places that encourage academic achievement, instead of dreary places that discourage learning.

EDITORIAL >> Remember Wilbur Mills

In 1965, Rep. Wilbur Mills (D-Kensett), the longtime Second District congressman and chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, helped pass Medicare and Medicaid legislation that has provided health care to the state’s elderly and poor.

Mills had opposed President Kennedy’s plan to offer health care to those over 65, but, after President Johnson’s landslide victory in 1964, Mills negotiated an ambitious insurance plan that would be paid with Social Security taxes and other federal funds.

A decade later, an escapade with a South American stripper brought down the once-powerful Mills, who died in semi-obscurity in 1992 at the White County Hospital in Searcy, not far from his Kensett home.

A half-century after Mills shepherded Medicare and Medicaid legislation through Congress, Arkansas again leads the nation in providing health insurance to the working poor under Medicaid’s private option. It has helped numerous hospitals, including those in White County, by reducing charity care to those without insurance and offering coverage through the private option and insurance exchanges.

Mills pretty much wrote the law on Medicare and Medicaid, making sure that hospitals and doctors would remain independent. Doctors, for example, can opt out of Medicare and insurance companies play a role in the private option program and insurance exchanges.

Over the weekend, The Leader reported that admissions at North Metro Medical Center in Jacksonville have increased 50 percent and uncompensated care has decreased 12 percent thanks to private option.

Rep. Joe Farrer (R-Austin), who has just been promoted to chief operating officer at the hospital, voted to extend private option for two years, although he was against it before — much like Mills, who opposed Medicare before he was for it. Farrer says he’s against continuing the private option after next year, but, when his hospital starts making money thanks to Medicaid expansion and insurance exchanges, it will be difficult for him, as chief operating officer, to end insurance for hundreds of thousands of Arkansans.

Can you imagine the hospital turning back thousands of patients who might not have insurance after 2016? Arkansans have a way of changing their minds when new facts warrant it. Just look to Wilbur Mills’ legacy, which has helped insure millions of Arkansans.

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot triumphs in fourth against Lady Blue Devils

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Lady Panthers overcame a bad first quarter to pull off a big road win at West Memphis on Friday, 41-32. In the first meeting between the two teams at Panther Arena in early January, Cabot jumped out to a big lead and then held off a furious Blue Devil rally.

On Friday, the Lady Panthers (20-5, 8-2) scored four points in the first quarter, and led for just a few seconds the entire first half.

The slow offensive start was alleviated by good defense. West Memphis held just a 7-4 lead at the end of the first. Neither team scored for about two minutes before West Memphis went on a 7-0 run. Cabot answered with one free throw by Alyssa Hamilton, and didn’t make a field goal until the final minute of the quarter when Danielle McWilliams scored and was fouled to make it 7-4.

Lady Blue Devil Alexis Hamlet drained a 3-pointer to start the second period. McWilliams and CoCo Calhoon combined for a 6-0 run that tied the game half way through the period and the teams were tied three more times before the half. Cabot led briefly when Leighton Taylor hit a 3-pointer to make it 16-15, but LaShala Saine answered just seconds later. McWilliams added a free throw to send the game into halftime tied at 17.

Cabot also led briefly in the third quarter on a 3-point play by Calhoon. But Hamlet answered quickly before the game fell back into a defensive battle. The Lady Blue Devils (15-8, 5-5) took a 28-26 lead into the final frame, and that’s when Cabot took control.

McWilliams hit a 3-pointer to start the quarter before Hamlet answered to make it 30-29. After three free throws by Cabot, Hamlet scored again to tie it at 32 with six minutes remaining, and it was the last bucket the Lady Blue Devils would score.

Cabot’s game-ending 9-0 run started with a pair of foul shots by Alyssa Hamilton. Josie Vanoss rebounded a West Memphis missed three and Taylor was fouled in transition. She also made both free throws to make it 36-32.

West Memphis coach Sheila Burns then called two full and one 30-second timeout consecutively, partly to regroup her team and partly to express her displeasure of the officiating, but it was for naught.

On the ensuing possession, Taylor deflected a Blue Devil pass in the half court set, Calhoon picked up the deflected ball and raced in for a layup that made it 38-32 with three minutes remaining. On the very next possession, McWilliams got a steal and was fouled in transition. She made 1 of 2 foul shots. Calhoon got the rebound but it was stolen by Niyha Townsend. She passed to Hamlet who was fouled by Hamilton, but missed the front end of the one-and-one. Taylor later added two free throws to set the final margin.

McWilliams and Calhoon combined for 23 points and nine steals, with McWilliams leading the way with 12 and six respectively. It was a night when defense was needed. The Lady Panthers shot just 29 percent (10 for 35) from floor.

SPORTS STORY >> Jackson, Portis honored

Special to The Leader

FAYETTEVILLE – An excellent past SEC basketball week for the Arkansas Razorbacks’ men’s and women’s teams reflected in Monday SEC’s choices for SEC Players of the Week.

The SEC Office in Birmingham, Ala. announced Monday that for his part the Razorbacks men winning SEC road games 101-87 on Feb. 10 at Auburn and 71-70 over Ole Miss last Saturday in Oxford, sophomore forward and Little Rock Hall alum Bobby Portis is the SEC Player of the Week

For her part in the Razorbacks women defeating Georgia, 54-48 on Feb. 9 at Walton Arena, playing No.14 Texas A&M to the wire in a 59-55 loss last Thursday in College Station, Texas, and routing Auburn, 54-36 Sunday at Auburn, sophomore forward Jessica Jackson of Jacksonville was named the SEC Co-Player of the Week.

Arkansas coach Mike Anderson’s men moved up to No.18 and No.17 in the AP and USA Today national media and coaches’ polls while advancing to 20-5 overall and to second-place 9-3 SEC going into the SEC Network televised game at 8 p.m. Wednesday against Missouri at Walton Arena.

The Razorbacks will honor Corliss Williamson, their two-time All-American in 1994 and ’95 and the MVP of Arkansas’ 1994 national championship team team, by raising a permanent banner with his name at Walton.

Jackson shares her honor with Kentucky guard Makayla Epps.

Jackson, a 6-3 forward, scored 15 points, with eight rebounds and four blocked shots against Georgia. She then scored 19 with six rebounds against Texas A&M and against Auburn scored 18 points with seven rebounds.

For the week, Jackson scored 52 points with 16 rebounds, an assist, four blocks and three steals. For the season, she averages 13.8 points and 5.8 rebounds.

Now 15-9, 5-7 in the SEC, Arkansas’ women play three consecutive SEC home games at Walton starting 8 p.m. Thursday on the SEC Network with nationally No. 2 SEC leader South Carolina, LSU at 1 p.m. Sunday and 7 p.m. Feb. 26 against Kentucky.

At Auburn, Portis scored 14 points in the first half and 22 for the game while grabbing eight rebounds. At Oxford in Arkansas’ final appearance at the “Tad Pad”, Ole Miss’ Tad Smith Coliseum to be replaced next season with an arena currently under construction, Portis tallied 12 points, five rebounds and a season’s best four blocked shots while becoming the league’s lone player earning SEC Player of the Week honors for a second time this season.

Portis averages a league leading 18.7 points in SEC games.

“If the season ended today, Bobby Portis would get my vote as SEC Player of the Year,” Ole Miss Coach Andy Kennedy said on Monday’s SEC Teleconference.

Ironically, Portis was honored after an Ole Miss game during which Anderson acknowledged the Hogs strayed from what butters their bread by not getting the ball often enough to Portis.

“Ole Miss had something to do with that and we did, too.” Anderson said.

“At one point in time there I told our guys, ‘He needs to touch the basketball. So that is something we have got to continue to be aware of, especially the advantage he gives us starting inside and kicking it out outside. We started off the game doing that, we started attacking,” he added.

“But the second half I didn’t think we were on the attack. I thought we kind of settled more. I didn’t think the ball was going inside as much as it should have. But that’s something we can correct on that,” Anderson said.

Most impressive to Anderson, Portis didn’t allow not  getting the ball to mean he wasn’t on the ball in other aspects of the game, especially shot-blocking.

“Against Ole Miss I just saw him take another step from a defensive standpoint,” Anderson said. “He became a rim protector.  That’s something I have really been encouraging him to do.  So he is big for our basketball team.”

He is always a big example and not just because he stands 6-11.

For Portis came in starring as Arkansas’ best player last year but never content resting on laurels.

“Last year he came in and was one of the better freshman in the country,” Anderson said.

“But Bobby’s work ethic is something that is really huge in his development.  He wants to be a great player so he is here constantly with the coaches, asking ‘What do I need to do?’ And more importantly he is going out and doing those things. He has gotten stronger, he is playing a lot longer. He is a lot more active,” Anderson said.

SPORTS STORY >> Sylvan Hills continues its improvement

Leader sports editor

Not much was riding on the outcome, but when Sylvan Hills takes on nearby rival North Pulaski, pride is always at stake. Neither team can make the playoffs, but the Bears wanted to avenge a 10-point loss at NP from earlier this season. They accomplished that mission, winning 52-37 in Sherwood.

Though Sylvan Hills didn’t win last Tuesday at Jacksonville, it has experienced huge point swings from the first round robin in the 5A-Central to the second. After losing by 38 to Jacksonville earlier in the season at home, the Bears lost by six at Jacksonville last Tuesday. Then on Friday, they turned a 10-point loss into a 15-point win.

“I think you can see from the outcome of these recent games that we’re playing a little bit better,” said Sylvan Hills coach Kevin Davis. “A lot of that has to do with kids stepping up that weren’t getting a lot of playing time early in the year.”

One of those players on Friday was freshman post player Alex Curry, who joined the team after the freshmen Bears won the River City Conference tournament championship last Thursday. He provided a post presence the Bears have lacked all season, and scored 12 points on Friday.

Another is sophomore point guard Herman Washington, who scored 12 against Jacksonville and ran the point effectively on Friday.

“He does such a good job of delivering the ball where people can score easily,” Davis said. 
“He’s one of those guys who may not have all the natural ability of some others, but he works his tail off. He doesn’t miss a practice and he’s all business when he’s in practice.”

The starting lineup of Herman Washington, Jordan Washington, Curry, Dexter Smith and Jaylin Johnson held North Pulaski scoreless for almost all the first quarter. They left the game with 90 seconds remaining holding an 11-0 lead. The Falcons scored four unanswered to end the period, and the game leveled out a bit from there.

Sylvan Hills won the second quarter 15-11 to take a 26-15 lead into the break. The two teams battled to the exact same score in the third quarter to make it 41-26, and tied 11-11 in the fourth.

The Falcons cut the margin to four midway through the third quarter, but Smith sank back-to-back 3-pointers in less than a minute to quickly push the margin back to double digits.

“They battled and scrapped pretty hard to get back in it,” Davis said of the Falcons. “I think when all that got erased by two quick shots, it kind of took some wind out of them. Dexter can do that. He hasn’t lost one of our little shoot-around competitions we have all year.”

SPORTS STORY >> Devils dominate at PA

Leader sportswriter

The Jacksonville boys overcame a three-point halftime deficit to beat Pulaski Academy 63-44 Friday, giving the Red Devils sole possession of third place in the current 5A-Central standings.

Jacksonville (18-6, 8-3) trailed Pulaski Academy (11-10, 5-6), who’s fifth in the conference standings behind Little Rock Fair (15-9, 7-4), 14-11 at the end of the first quarter, and 27-24 at halftime. The Red Devils began to turn things around in the third quarter.

Jacksonville cut the PA lead to one, 29-28, with a pair of free throws by LaQuawn Smith at the 6:02 mark of the third quarter. With 5:33 left in the third, Smith gave the Red Devils their first lead since leading 3-2 early in the first quarter on an and-1 that made the score 31-29.

The Red Devils led by as much as six in the third quarter. With 3:17 to go in the quarter, point guard Tyree Appleby banked in a short floater that upped Jacksonville’s lead to 35-29.

Pulaski Academy’s offense struggled mightily throughout the second half. The Bruins’ first field goal of the half came on a steal and reverse layup by junior scorer Lawson Korita with 1:02 remaining in the third.

Korita’s bucket cut the Jacksonville lead to 37-33, and by the end of the third quarter, the Bruins got the Red Devil lead down to three, with the score 39-36. The Red Devils, though, pulled away in the fourth quarter.

Jacksonville opened the fourth quarter with a 7-1 run to push its lead to 46-37. With 4:44 to play, PA guard Rico Lindsen became the first of three Bruin starters to foul out in the fourth quarter.

Lindsen’s foul on Jacksonville’s Lakalon Huskey put Huskey on the line. It wasn’t a shooting foul, but the Red Devils were already in the double bonus, and Huskey made 1 of 2 free throws to give Jacksonville a 48-41 cushion.

The Red Devils took their first double-digit lead with 3:36 left to play on a Braylon James free throw, which made the score 51-41. Shortly after, PA’s Tre Bruce picked up his fifth foul after delivering a hard one on Jacksonville’s Devin Campbell.

Campbell made both free throws to give the Red Devils a 53-41 cushion with 2:40 remaining. With 1:44 to play, Korita fouled out as well, and in turn, sent Appleby to the free-throw line, where he made both shots. That gave Jacksonville a 55-43 lead.

With 1:22 remaining, Jacksonville’s Campbell put an exclamation point on the win with a thunderous two-handed slam that made the score 57-43.

With 27 tics remaining, Tedrick Wolfe threw down a one-handed slam that made the score 61-44, and with two seconds left, Malik Aaron scored the final bucket on a putback that was the result of an Appleby miss.

Jacksonville’s second-half turnaround started with its defense, and included getting to the free-throw line more on offense. Pulaski Academy made 10 field goals in the first half, but just three in the second.

Both teams got to the line more in the second half, but Jacksonville was 2 for 2 from the stripe in the first half and 19 for 23 in the final two quarters.

“Once we got them out of their 3-2 (zone) and they had to go man, it gave us an advantage,” said Jacksonville coach Victor Joyner. “They’re not used to playing man-to-man. Those kids have been playing 3-2 ever since they’ve been in elementary school.

“All we had to do was be patient. They couldn’t keep up with us, so there was a lot of holding and grabbing and people out of position. We forced fouls by being patient.”

Joyner said he challenged his players at halftime in order to spark some motivation in them, and it showed on both ends of the floor throughout the second half.

“We challenged them,” Joyner said. “They’re better than what we saw in the first half. They were not focused. That’s been the problem – bone-headed plays and a lack of focus.

“I think they realized how bad they played in the first half, and they settled in and got focused and they played better as a team and were more focused. It makes a big difference.”

Jacksonville finished the game 20 of 45 from the floor for 44 percent. Pulaski Academy finished the game 13 of 44 from the floor for 30 percent. From the free-throw line, the Red Devils made 21 of 25 attempts for 84 percent. The Bruins made 13 of 19 shots from the stripe for 68 percent.

The Red Devils outrebounded the Bruins 31-20, and Jacksonville had two fewer turnovers, finishing with 14 to PA’s total of 16 committed.

Korita led all scorers with 27 points. He was the only Bruin to score in double figures. Jacksonville had three different players score in double figures. Wolfe had 19 points and 10 rebounds. Appleby scored 13 points, and Campbell added 12.

The Red Devils continued 5A-Central play last night at North Pulaski (4-17, 2-9) after deadlines, and they’ll play another crucial conference game this Friday at home against second-place Mills (16-5, 9-2), who beat Jacksonville last month.   

This Friday’s home game will tip off after the girls’ game, which begins at 6 p.m.