Leader Blues

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

SPORTS >>Panthers, Devils in weekend tourneys

By JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

Only two points separated the Jacksonville Lady Red Devils from the finals of the Greenbrier invitational over the weekend. A second-round loss to Vilonia in a close 2-1 decision prevented the Lady Devils from a championship-round appearance, but the third-place consolation game did manage to bring a rare meeting with cross-town rivals North Pulaski.

Despite a short bench after losing junior Chastity Robinson to an ankle injury during last week’s game against Jonesboro, and two more players out for personal reasons over the weekend, the Lady Devils fared very well in their three matches at the tourney. They easily handled Batesville in their opening match to advance to the semifinals in two games, but would find the Lady Eagles of Vilonia a little more difficult to overcome.

Vilonia took the first game 25-18, but Jacksonville rallied back to win game two 25-23. This would set up a shootout in the final game of the best two-out-of-three tournament, and the Lady Eagles would need one extra point to claim the win, taking the semifinal round with a 16-14 win.

This would bump Jacksonville into the consolation bracket, to play in the third-place match against none other than the North Pulaski Lady Falcons. The Amanda Hill coached team made its way into the consolation game with a win over ? and a loss to?, to set up the classic showdown.

The Lady Falcons made a statement early in the match, taking game one by a score of 25-23. The Lady Red Devils, somewhat disheartened over not making the finals, had to dig deep to take game two, but came out swinging to tie the match at one game each with a dominating 25-15 win. The final game would decide it all, and Jacksonville would pull out the win 15-11.
Lady Red Devils coach Melissa Reeves says the last week has been somewhat unpredictable, but that the team continues to improve.

“I’m really proud of the way they played on Saturday,” Reeves said. “Despite everything that has been going on, they want to play their very best. They have been playing like I know they can play, we just need to get everyone back and on the same page.”

Lady Red Devils sophomore Crystal Washington stepped in for the injured Robinson on the front row, and played solidly throughout the tournament. Paula Burr was moved from the outside to the middle of the front row during the tournament. Reeves said that while their opponents got a lot in on Burr in the middle, it is hard to expect a player that has trained for the outside all season to step in to a different area of the court on a moment’s notice.

“They were really diffused after losing to Vilonia,” Reeves said. “We were at a bare minimum of players anyway, so we had to fight to get up for North Pulaski. We haven’t been fully prepared these last few games, and we have had a couple of disciplinary issues lately, but hopefully that is all worked out now.”

The Lady Red Devils hosted the Sylvan Hills Lady Bears last night after Leader deadlines.

The Cabot Lady Panthers ended up with a win and a loss at the ASU Invitational Tournament in Jonesboro over the weekend. After a solid tournament performance one weekend prior in Harrison, the Lady Panthers could not get past 5A powerhouse Nettleton in the second round of the ASU tourney, ending their day early after an up-and-down performance during morning pool play.

Cabot coach Terry Williams said the tournament was somewhat of a letdown, especially after a solid showing the weekend before and Harrison, and two conference wins during the week.

“We just couldn’t get in sync,” Williams said. “We never could get anything going it seemed like; we were just flat.” Williams was hard at work Tuesday morning trying to arrange a new lineup for a match that afternoon with Mt. Saint Mary, after three players were forced to sit out the contest with various ailments.

Cabot started out pool play with a two-game split with Hutchinson, Tenn., followed by a loss to Valley View. The Lady Panthers would not come up empty handed in the pool matches, however, beating Piggott in two games to set up a first round bracket match with the dreaded and enormous Lady Raiders.

Nettleton took both games easily, winning game one 14-25 before dominating in the second game to take an 11-25 win over the Lady Panthers. This would pit the Lady Panthers against Collierville, Tenn., in the consolation game. Cabot would take that game in straight games, 25-19 and 25-14 to finish in the top half.