Tuesday, November 14, 2017

SPORTS STORY >> Titan girls play well but lose to Chapel

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville girls’ basketball team fell to 0-3 on Monday, losing 41-33 to Watson Chapel in the first round of the Heavenly Hoops Classic at Mount. St. Mary Academy in Little Rock. The Lady Titans played the two-time defending Class 5A state champions without their starting point guard, Sharonda Perry, but coach Marian Kursh wasn’t entirely displeased with how her team performed.

“Defensively I thought it was our best game so far,” Kursh said. “It was the first time I felt like we were running the defense, rotating and doing things correctly for the most part. We just didn’t rebound. I yelled all night that they need to block out, and just wouldn’t do it. Just about all their points in the second half were second-chance points. So that’s something we’re definitely going to address.”

Jacksonville sophomore Shy Christopher scored five of Jacksonville’s six points in the first quarter, and she quickly became a focal point of the Lady Wildcat defense. Jacksonville missed its last seven shots ofthe quarter, but the defense kept it close. Watson Chapel’s lead was just 10-6 at the end of the first quarter, and the second period saw a role reversal.

Watson Chapel pushed out to a nine-point lead at the halfway point of the quarter, but the Lady Titans battled back slowly. A 3-pointer by DeShundra Shockley and a mid-range jumper by Tori Briggs got Jacksonville back to within 18-14 by halftime.

Chapel then scored the first four points of the third quarter before the Lady Titans answered with their best run of the game. With Chapel’s sophomore phenom Wyvette Mayberry on the bench, (daughter of Razorback legend Lee Mayberry) Jacksonville forced Chapel into a series of successive turnovers. Shockley hit a short jumper after getting the steal. Another steal led to senior Brittney Eskridge getting a layup while being fouled, but she missed the free throw.

Jacksonville got another defensive stop after two missed baskets by the Lady Wildcats. On the offensive end, the Lady Titans worked the ball around the perimeter while senior Amaya English worked through screens for an open 3-pointer, which she made to cap a 7-0 run and force Chapel to call a timeout with a 22-21 lead.

The timeout did break Jacksonville’s momentum, and Chapel scored seven-straight before English hit another 3-pointer to make it 29-24 going into the fourth period.

Chapel, which had already been winning the rebounding battle, started dominating it early in the fourth quarter. Briggs scored to start the final period, but Chapel answered with an 8-0 run, with all four baskets coming after one or more offensive rebounds. That put the Lady Wildcats up 37-26 with 5:11 remaining, and Jacksonville could get no closer than five the rest of the way.

Christopher led all scorers with 12 points, but she did not have a field goal in the second or third quarters, and was only 6 of 14 from the foul line. Jacksonville was just 10 of 23 from the free-throw line as a team.

English added eight for the Lady Titans (0-3) while Briggs had six and Shockley five.

Despite the low score, Watson Chapel saw 10 different players get on the scoreboard. Mayberry was the only one in double figures with 11 points. She also had five rebounds and four steals.

Chapel (1-0) outrebounded Jacksonville 33-19, and had 17 turnovers to 21 for the Titans.

Jacksonville will move to the consolation bracket and take on tournament host Mount St. Mary at 4 p.m. today. Chapel advances to the semifinals, where it will take on old rival Star City, who beat MSM 51-32 on Monday.