SPORTS >>Mustang surge erases JHS lead
By FRED CONLEY
Forrest City Times-Herald
Friday night, against Jacksonville, the Forrest City Mustangs were lucky with a little good thrown in over the final three minutes.
Factor in a little added motivation by Forrest City senior Marcus Britt, who pointed to the newly-raised track-and-field state championship banners which hung high above the Mustang Arena floor, and the end result was another Mustang victory.
Trailing at home by six points with 2:59 to play, Forrest City outscored Jacksonville 12-to-5 to cap an incredible and intense hard-fought 53-50 win over the Red Devils.
The 6A-East Conference victory was the 10th straight win for the Mustangs dating back to early December and lifts Forrest City to 14-2 overall and 3-0 in the conference – a first for a Mustang team under head coach Dwight Lofton.
“Good definitely played a huge role in the end,” Lofton said. “Both teams had to make the plays and fortunately for us, our seniors stepped up and did that. They had a six-point lead and we knew we had to have three defensive stops. We just told them, guys it is still a two-possession game, keep doing what you’re doing offensively and look for the stops on defense.”
Trailing 45-39, Forrest City sophomore center Gavin Glandton drained an 18-foot jumper and Britt came up with a steal and converted the layup with 2:16 to play cutting Jacksonville’s lead to 45-43.
After a Forrest City time out, senior point guard Kellon Bowman forced a Jacksonville turnover at midcourt and went in for the solo layup with 1:48 to play to tie the game at 45-45 to complete a 6-0 Mustang run.
KaJuan Watson’s long three-pointer put Jacksonville back in front 48-45 with 1:26 left before Jacksonville’s LaMark Trask fouled Forrest City senior guard Stephon Weaver way beyond the three-point arc, sending the Arkansas State University signee to the foul line for three free throws.
Weaver hit all three for a 48-48 tie and after a Jacksonville miss, Bowman came away with his second steal and layup for a 50-48 Forrest City lead with 53 seconds to play.
After a Jacksonville time out, Britt forced a steal and was fouled on the layup attempt. Britt hit one of the two foul shots before Jacksonville’s Watson missed a long three and the rebound went to the Mustangs with 12.5 seconds to play.
Britt drew a non-shooting foul and hit both free throws from the double-bonus opportunity for a 53-48 lead with 6.4 seconds to play.
Jacksonville hit a meaningless basket just before the buzzer to set the final score.
“Good teams find ways to win and that’s what we did Friday,” Lofton said. “Every one of those plays late in the game were huge plays.”
Friday’s three-point win was the second of the week for the Mustangs, who had to hold off Marion 60-57 Tuesday at Marion.
“Wins like these will only make us better down the road,” Lofton said. “And Friday’s win over Jacksonville was a quality win.
Trust me, in Jacksonville, you are looking at a No. 2 or 3 seed into the state tournament. They are the real deal. Their size was a factor, but more importantly, their quickness was a factor. They are one of the few teams we have played this year that after the first six minutes I thought these guys are as quick as we are, jump higher than we do and are very physical. When Forrest City and Jacksonville get together, I don’t expect anything less than the type of game the fans saw tonight, a down-to-the-wire game. But again, the bottom line, we just found a way to win. We could have rolled over when they went up by six but we didn’t.”
Weaver led the Mustangs with 15 points while Britt had 14 points, six rebounds and four steals. Bowman finished with 12 points and two steals while Kelson Stewart added eight and Glandton had four points and six rebounds.
It was the first time this season that Stewart failed to reach double digits for the Mustangs.
The bigger, more physical Red Devils out-rebounded Forrest City 31-to-23, but had 14 turnovers in the game (10 of those in the second half) while the Mustangs turned the ball over only eight times, just twice in the second half.
Gerron Riddles, Jacksonville’s 6-5, 300-pound senior center, led the Red Devils with 13 points while Watson had 12 and Antwan Lockhart had eight. Norvel Gabriel scored all six of his points in the fourth period.
The Mustangs hit 17 of their 40 shots from the floor while Jacksonville connected on 22 of their 50 shots. The Mustangs were 18-of-25 from the free- throw line, hitting 10 of 11 in the fourth period.
Forrest City led 10-8 after one period but Jacksonville took a one point advantage, 22-21 into the half. A 14-to-10 third period left the Red Devils with a 36-31 lead to start the fourth period highlighted by Watson’s break-away slam dunk at the buzzer.
Riddles and Gabriel each hit two field goals early in the fourth to push Jacksonville to its six-point lead.
Forrest City 59, Jacksonville 38
The Forrest City Lady Mustangs improved to 9-6 overall and 2-1 in the 6A-East Conference Friday night with a resounding 59-38 win over Jacksonville’s Lady Red Devils.
Friday’s win leaves the Lady Mustangs in a tie for third in the conference standings with Mountain Home.
Fareedah Washington led four Lady Mustangs in double figures with 14 points, seven rebounds and five steals. Cassandra Jackson added 12 points, nine rebounds and two steals while Bookita Vaughen and Kesha Stovall each finished with 11 points and four rebounds each.
Forrest City opened a 24-0 lead before Jacksonville (4-10 and 0-2) was able to put up their first points with 37 seconds left in the opening period.
Stovall, the team’s senior center, had nine of the 24 first-period points, including a pair of three-pointers. By halftime, the Lady Mustangs led 34-15, their second highest first half point total of the season. Jacksonville was held to just seven field goals in the first half.
The Lady Mustangs used a 9-0 third period run to take their lead from 38-21 to 47-21 as Jackson converted a pair of inside layups to go along with Stovall’s jumper and Vaughen’s three. Forrest City led 49-27 to start the fourth period.
Forrest City connected on 24 of their 62 shots from the floor and had 23 turnovers and 15 steals.
Jacksonville was 7-of-17 from the foul line and was led by Tyra Terry’s nine points. Tarneisha Scott and Vanessa Brown each had eight points while Marie Livings finished with six and Marleka Bell had four.
In other 6A-East girls games played Friday, Mountain Home held off Jonesboro 65-50 in double overtime, Searcy downed Marion 56-36 and West Memphis stayed unbeaten in conference with a 58-25 win over Sylvan Hills.
Jacksonville played Sylvan Hills last night after Leader deadlines. Look for details of that matchup in Saturday’s edition of The Leader.
The Red Devils’ next game has been moved from its originally scheduled site of JHS to a road game at West Memphis.