SPORTS >> Red Devils run away from Panthers
Leader sports editor
IN SHORT: The Jacksonville boys and Cabot girls won the rivalry games Tuesday night.
The Jacksonville Red Devils led from gun to tape last night in another critical AAAAA-East matchup at Cabot. Jacksonville guard Airic Hughes hit a three pointer 58 seconds into the game to put the Devils up 3-0, and Lavar Neely hit an uncontested layup at the buzzer to set the final margin at 59-49, improving Jacksonville’s conference record to 6-4 and dropping the Panthers to 4-6.
The Red Devils led by as much as 21. An alley-oop pass from Hughes was slammed home by senior post Kelsey Credit with 3:10 left in the third quarter to put Jacksonville up 41-20.
After that, Jacksonville got sloppy and Cabot began to close the gap.
The Panthers trimmed the lead to as little as 10 with 3:05 left, and nine with 46 seconds remaining.
Jacksonville coach Vic Joyner was not pleased with how his team closed the game, but was pleased to get a win in a brutal conference.
“We have got to learn how to close out games and finish teams off,” Joyner said. “This wasn’t as bad as the other night. We were up by 20 points, but there are too many good teams and too many good coaches at this level to be messing around with any lead. No lead is safe in this conference. But we got that lead and got comfortable, and just didn’t finish it off. I’m happy to get the win though. I’ll take a win, any win against a team like this.”
Cabot struggled through another game of missed shots. The looks were there, but the shots haven’t been falling the Panthers in recent games.
Starting forward Shawn Tramel found a quick seat on the bench after picking up his second foul just 1:30 into the game, and the Panther struggled for six points in the first quarter.
Jacksonville opened the second quarter quickly, turning a 12-6 lead into a 23-10 advantage. Two blocks by Credit sparked the run. He also got a bucket, and his assist to Hughes ended the half with the Devils leading 25-14.
Another fast start in the third buried the Panthers under a nearly insurmountable lead. Credit opened the half with a layup from a penetrate and dish assist by Lavar Neely.
Cabot post player Alex Sharp responded with a pull up jumper to make it 27-26, but Jacksonville scored the next seven points. Neely hit a three pointer, Bryan Owens hit two free throws and Airic Hughes got a steal and layup to put the Devils up 33-16 with 5:25 left in the quarter.
Cabot junior Justin Haas ended the run with a three pointer and Chad Glover added a free throw to cut the margin to 33-20, but Jacksonville responded with an 8-0 run to take its biggest lead of the game.
The Panther bench got Cabot back to within striking distance in the fourth quarter, but it was too late to mount a serious threat.
Guards Jacob Trammell and Brett Beam scored 10 points each, all in the second half, while Alex Sharp came off the bench to post nine points in the game.
The trio accounted for 25 of Cabot’s 35 second-half points.
Conversely, Jacksonville got just one point the entire game from the six players that came off the bench. The Red Devil starting five accounted for all but one free throw of their 59 points.
Neely led all scorers with 18 points. He also grabbed six rebounds and dished out six assists. Hughes finished 16 while Credit posted 11 points, seven boards and six blocked shots.
Cabot is now 15-8 overall while Jacksonville improved to 16-8.
The game’s result, combined with Forrest City’s win over West Memphis, and Sylvan Hills’ victory over Searcy last night, leaves Cabot tied with the Blue Devils for fifth place in the league race.
The Lady Panthers sat two starters for injury and illness, but still had little trouble with the Lady Red Devils, who also sat an injured starter. Cabot won the game 65-31 and improved to 21-3 on the season and 10-0 in conference play.
Jacksonville hung tough early, playing to a 14-6 score by the end of the first. Cabot stepped up the defensive pressure in the second quarter and held a 33-13 lead by halftime.
It was all over in the third as Cabot, who missed all six of its three-point attempts in the first half, began hitting from outside. Jacksonville had no answer. The Lady Panthers led 60-23 by the end of the frame.
Twelve Lady Panthers scored in the game. They were led by Kim Sitzmann’s 20 points and eight rebounds.
Tarneshia Scott led Jacksonville with 18 points and 11 boards.
The Lady Devils fell to 2-18 and 0-10.
Jacksonville host Jonesboro Friday while Cabot will entertain Mountain Home.
The Lady Bombers are 8-2 and in second place in the AAAAA-East.