SPORTS >>Red Devils outrun Falcons
Leader sports editor
You couldn’t tell it from Victor Joyner’s comments afterward, but Jacksonville ran away from North Pulaski late in its mat-chup with its crosstown rivals. The Falcons scored the last 10 points of the game, but it was only enough to cut the final margin to 55-43 after the Red Devils dominated the latter part of the third quarter and the first half of the fourth.
Jacksonville’s Antwain Robinson hit a three pointer with 5:06 remaining to give the Red Devils their first 20-point lead; Damien Akins hit a stickback moments later to cap the Red Devil scoring.
Jacksonville won the game comfortably despite 26 turnovers, and that is what had the head Red Devil upset after the game.
“We didn’t run any of our sets,” Joyner said. “The guards didn’t get into anything. We had 26 turn-overs, and they hardly even pressed us. We turned it over just trying to get into our sets. We didn’t get to a second option until late when we made that run. When we settled down there for four or five minutes, we ran away. But we didn’t execute 90 percent of the time. We are in some serious trouble if the guards don’t start executing.”
The guards may not have executed well, but one of them shot well. Robinson hit three of five from beyond the arc, and finished with a game high 16 points. The Red Devils were 5 of 11 from three-point range on the night. Joyner was disappointed, but also suggested that patience is due his team for the time being.
“We got a lot of young players, and most of our older ones haven’t played before,” Joyner said. “It’s going to take a little time for us to get used to being on the big stage. We also got Kajuan (Watson, the lone returning starter who missed most of preseason with a broken hand) who still isn’t really in shape yet. Norvel Gabriel hasn’t got football out of him yet. We’re going to get better. Either that or we’re just not going to be very good.”
Joyner credited North Pulaski’s gambling defense, rather than his team’s offensive execution, for the 22-point fourth-quarter lead. “We shot a lot of layups because they were going for everything,” Joyner said. “When we didn’t turn it over to them, we had guys open close to the basket. I commend them for their effort. They (the Falcons) played hard, but if we would have executed, this wouldn’t have been a game.”
North Pulaski coach Raymond Cooper agreed with Joyner’s assessment of his team, but not of Joyner’s team. “I was not satisfied with our effort at all,” Cooper said. “So what if we played hard. We did not play hard within the confines of what we do. We did go for everything and we weren’t supposed to be doing that. We may have forced 26 turnovers, but for every turnover we forced, we doubled that in mistakes. We talked about being focused on executing a game plan, and all we did was went out there and gambled on everything.”
Jacksonville jumped scored the first four points of the game, and led 8-2 when North Pulaski called a timeout in the first quarter. The margin was 15-8 at the end of the first, and reached as much as 19-8 before North Pulaski made a run.
Quinn Cooper hit a three pointer with 2:32 left in the half that cut Jacksonville’s lead to 24-19, but the Red Devils scored the next six straight points, including a dish and dunk from point guard Terrell Eskridge to Antwain Lockhart, over the next 35 seconds to quickly reclaim control.
North Pulaski added one free throw before the half to go into intermission trailing 30-20. The second half started exactly the way the first half ended, with Jacksonville scoring six points to North Pulaski’s one. That gave the Red Devils a 36-21 lead and forced Cooper to call another timeout with 5:44 left in the third. NP spent the next five minutes cutting the deficit down to 39-29, but Jacksonville went on a 16-4 run that started with Robinson’s second three pointer with 14 seconds left in the third.
Watson was the only other Red Devil in double figures with 11 points. Cooper led the Falcons with 11. Neither team shot free throws well. Jacksonville hit six of 12 while NP hit nine of 18.
The win lifted Jacksonville to 2-1 while the Falcons fell to 1-1. The Red Devils will travel to Central High of Memphis Friday. The Falcons will be off until next Tuesday when they travel to Oak Grove. The Jacksonville ladies also got a win Tuesday, defeating the Lady Falcons 52-17. The Jacksonville post players dominated the action. Senior Tarneshia Scott scored 12 points and grabbed nine rebounds, while junior Maria Livings scored 11 points and pulled down 14 boards. Jacksonville had 37 team rebounds to just 15 for NP. Tamara Rhodes led the Lady Falcons with six points.