SPORTS >>Red Devils bust streak of losses, defeat Lions
By RAY BENTON
Leader sports editor
Jacksonville got a much-needed win Tuesday night over Searcy. Finally back at home after playing road games for more than a month, the Red Devils held off the Lions 52-51 in overtime. It was the second one-point overtime game the two teams had played against each other in a week.
The very next day, the Red Devils were back on the road playing a make-up game at Marion, and dropped another close road game 56-55.
A week before Tuesday, the Lions beat Jacksonville 64-63 in overtime at Searcy.
The Red Devils took an eight-point lead into the fourth quarter, but were outscored 16-8 by the Lions, sending the game into the extra period.
Down by two with less than a minute left in overtime, Jacksonville’s Damien Akins nailed a three pointer that set the final margin.
Searcy was called for a travel on its next possession, but Jacksonville failed to put the game away at the free-throw line.
The Lions failed to score on two more possessions, and fouled. It took three fouls to put the Devils in the bonus, and when they did, the foul shot was missed with two seconds left.
Searcy got one more desperation attempt that missed the mark, leaving Jacksonville with the victory.
No Jacksonville players finished in double figures in scoring. Antwain Lockhart and Norvel Gabriel each scored nine to lead the way for nine Red Devils that got on the board.
Senior guard Matt Cramblett led Searcy with 17 points. Cody Wilmath and Justin Rowden each dropped in 12 for the Lions, who fell to 4-5 in league play.
The next day at Marion, Jacksonville led most of the way, but couldn’t hold on to the lead in the end. Jacksonville routed the Patriots by 22 points earlier in the year, but Jacksonville coach Vic Joyner doesn’t believe that is what caused his team to play poorly.
The head Red Devil gave the credit in the game to Marion.
“We had always played hard, even in our losses,” Joyner said. “This was the first game in a long time where we just got out-worked. They pinned their ears back and played harder than we did. There were loose balls on the floor, and they got ‘em. When it was late and both teams were tired, it came down to who wanted it more, and they wanted it more. I was as disappointed with this game as I have been all year.”
Some costly late turnovers also hurt Jacksonville, turnovers that had been a problem early in the year, but had subsided in recent games.
“I don’t know why we started doing that again,” Joyner said. “It was like the first of the season again. We just weren’t playing smart. We weren’t focused on this game for some reason.”
Sophomore guard Antonio Washington led Jacksonville with 13 points in the loss. Damien Akins added 10 and sophomore post Antwan Lockhart scored nine.
The two games leave Jacksonville 3-6 in league play and 10-12 overall.
The Lady Devils lost both matchups to fall to 1-8 in league play and 5-16 overall.
They hosted No. 1 ranked Forrest City last night after Leader deadlines.