SPORTS >> Red Devils put away Hughes in first round
BY RAY BENTON
Leader sports editor
Jacksonville let class AA Hughes hang around for a long time. Despite several opportunities to put the pesky Blue Devils away, the Red Devils couldn’t do it until a final burst at the three-minute mark that led to an 86-65 victory.
Finally, after Hughes had cut another double-digit deficit to seven points at 69-62, Jacksonville coach Vic Joyner used a Hughes’ timeout to get his team’s attention.
There was no strategizing, no play was drawn up, just a serious challenge to his players’ collective heart. It wasn’t too long ago that Jacksonville blew a big lead in a loss to Russellville, and Joyner didn’t want to see it again.
This time, his team answered the challenge with furious relentlessness.
Hughes cut the lead to seven with 3:40 left in the game. Forty-one seconds later, it was over. Jacksonville scored nine straight points, the last seven of which came without the ball crossing halfcourt, in 41 seconds to make it 78-62 with 2:59 left in the game.
At the 2:20 mark, it was 82-62 and Hughes subbed out for the remainder of the game.
Jacksonville followed suit and cruised to victory.
“Hughes is a doggone good AA basketball team,” Joyner said. “We should have put them away earlier, but they were making it hard. They kept hitting shots and just wouldn’t go away. We still have to work on that killer instinct.
“I had to chew ‘em out and I’m glad they responded, but I can’t keep doing that. They’re going to have to find their own motivation. I don’t think we’re going to have that problem against the teams in our conference though. This game got a little easy at times and we lost focus. I don’t think we’ll be doing that in our conference.”
Jacksonville center K.C. Credit had a dazzling first half, with two alley-oop dunks and a reverse dunk in open court after picking the pocket of Blue Devil standout Kevin Brown.
Credit turned his ankle late in the second quarter. The injury wasn’t serious, but the 6-foot-5 post only played sparingly the rest of the game.
Senior guard Lavar Neely picked up where Credit left off, and turned in one his most complete performances of his stellar career.
Neely scored 26 points, dished out five assists, got four steals and grabbed four rebounds.
The team’s assist total was the highest of the season, with the Red Devils dishing out 17 total. Kajaun Watson matched Neely to lead the team with five.
Watson was also the second-leading scorer in the game with 17 points. Will Christian added 12 and Credit scored 10.
The win lifts the Red Devils to 7-2 on the season. They move on to play Mills University Studies in the second round at 8:30 p.m. tonight.
Mills demolished Catholic 53-25 in its first-round game.
The other first-round match-ups saw Little Rock Christian Academy decimate Conway 55-36, while Sylvan Hills upset No. 1 ranked Little Rock Parkview 53-51.
In girls action, the Lady Devils beat Dollarway 34-33. LR Hall beat Mills 47-43, Bentonville escaped LR Central 46-44, and McCellan defeated HWHC 54-50.