SPORTS >>Falcons fall to Devils
By JASON KING
Leader sports writer
For the second time this season, Jacksonville swept its cross-town rival North Pulaski in a pair of non-conference games Friday night at NPHS. The Lady Red Devils controlled the majority of the girls contest to take a 57-41 win, but the Jacksonville boys needed a strong rally in the fourth quarter to pull away for a 53-39 win after trailing the Falcons for most of the second and third quarters of the game.
It may have ended up as a win, but Red Devils coach Vic Joyner was livid with his team’s performance in a game that very easily could have gone the other way.
“To be honest with you, we have a long way to go,” Joyner said. “We have to get better on our decision making. We weren’t even pressing them when we needed to be. This was a statement game for North Pulaski, and (NP coach Raymond) Cooper had those boys ready to play.”
Jacksonville did dominate most of the opening quarter, rushing out to a 7-1 lead with a three pointer from Damien Akins, followed by another goal for Akins and an inside basket from post Gerron Riddles.
Tommy Medler finally got NP’s first shot from the floor at the 4:29 mark of the first quarter to make it 7-3, Kaiuan Watson answered for Jacksonville to put the Red Devils’ advantage back at six points.
North Pulaski pulled a bit of the unexpected in the final two minutes of the opening frame, completely reversing the game’s momentum and erasing a 12-5 deficit with 2:03 left in the first down to a slim 12-11 lead for the Devils by the end of the period.
A three from Antonio Washington gave the Red Devils their biggest lead early at 12-5, but the Falcons kicked their game into a higher gear to control the rest of the first half.
Cliff Harrison started things out for North Pulaski with a basket and free throw, followed by a steal from Ridge Williams that he converted for two points. Stanley Appleby followed Williams’ example with a steal of his own. The sophomore picked Jacksonville’s LaMark Trask clean and took it in for a layup in the final 10 seconds of the quarter to make it 12-11 heading into the next frame.
The Falcons got their biggest lead of the game with 4:56 left in the third quarter when a three pointer from Appleby put NP out front 32-26.
North Pulaski led until the final 30 seconds of the third quarter. Watson cut the lead to one with a jumper, and Terrell Eskridge gave the Red Devils the lead with a layup at the buzzer for a 34-33 Jacksonville lead heading into the fourth quarter.
The fourth quarter was the least competitive period of the game.
The Red Devils began to smell blood, and the Falcons appeared to run out of gas after out-hustling Jacksonville for over half the contest.
Sophomore Norvel Gabriel would be one of the biggest difference makers for Jacksonville, especially down the stretch. Gabriel pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds for the Red Devils, seven of them defensive.
Three of his boards came in the decisive final frame, denying the Falcons a second-shot opportunity. Gabriel would end up fouling out with 3:30 left in the game, but Jacksonville had already pulled out to a 44-35 lead by that point, and would only extend that lead in the final moments.
Watson led Jacksonville with 17 points and seven rebounds. Riddles added 11 points and four rebounds for the Red Devils. For North Pulaski, Williams had 12 points and five rebounds. NP was led in rebounding by DaQuen Bryant with six boards.
The win gives Jacksonville a record of 5-4. North Pulaski now has a record of 2-5.
The Lady Red Devils controlled all but the first four minutes of the third quarter in the girls game.
The Lady Falcons cut a 33-17 halftime deficit down to a much closer 33-25 Jacksonville lead by the 4:03 mark of the third quarter.
Six Jacksonville fouls in the first half of the frame allowed the Lady Falcons to play catch-up. Lecreishia Cash scored all five of her second half points in that time, including 3 of 4 free throw attempts to cut the deficit to single digits, albeit for a short time.
The Lady Red Devils pulled back out to a 45-29 lead by the end of the third.
Tarneisha Scott hit two straight jumpers in the final minute of the frame to extend the Lady Devils’ lead back to a more comfortable interval.
Marie Livings led Jacksonville with 17 points. Scott added 13, and Chunky Billingsly finished with 10 points for the Lady Red Devils. For North Pulaski, Cash finished with nine points and Neshia Ridgeway added eight for the Lady Falcons.
Both teams will now take the holidays off until the start of the Red Devil Classic at JHS starting on December 27.