Leader Blues

Friday, February 08, 2008

SPORTS >> Devils rally to run away from Searcy

By RICK BUTLER
For the Leader

The turnaround continues for the Jacksonville Red Devils. After a less than stellar beginning to the season, the Red Devils’ fortunes continued to improve Tuesday night with what turned into an easy 56-34 victory over the struggling Searcy Lions.

The Lions battled to a 24-21 halftime lead on Anthony Harniss’ putback with two seconds left in the second quarter. Searcy, though would get just three more field goals in the game as Jacksonville pulled away in the third quarter.

There was no secret to the Red Devils’ magic, though, according to Jacksonville coach Victor Joyner.

“We struggled early in the season — and started off 3-9,” Joyner said. “We made no big adjustments at halftime. We just remembered what behavior led us to being 3-9 and that was starting to show again in the first half against Searcy. We got that corrected at halftime and we remembered how much we’ve enjoyed the 7-1 record that followed that 3-9.”

The Red Devils turned up the defensive pressure on the Lions, forcing Searcy to up its tempo. Offensively, Jacksonville pushed the ball at Searcy at every opportunity. In the meantime, foul trouble plagued the Lions, with the 6-6 Harniss fouling out early in the final quarter.

By that time, though, Jacksonville had pushed itself to a 45-29 advantage, thanks to having seven different players score in the third period.

Deshone McClure knotted the score at 24 just seconds into the third period, then Terrell Eskridge scored on an offensive rebound. Antwan Lockhart scored inside, Cortrell Eskridge hit two free throws and capped the 10-0 run with a 10-footer that made it 32-24.

Logan English temporarily stopped the bleeding for Searcy with a pair of free throws, but the Red Devils answered again, highlighted by a Darrius Morant three pointer. Jacksonville led 39-29 after three quarters.

“They turned up the pressure and got a little more physical with us,” Searcy coach Jim Summers said afterward. “They sped us up and we lost our composure. We didn’t make plays when we needed to and they did.”

Jacksonville scored the first 10 points of the fourth quarter, capped by Cortrell Eskridge’s layup that pushed the score to 49-29 with 5:23 left.

The Red Devils were then content to slow the game down and reserves played much of the final quarter.

Jordan Evans led Searcy with 14 points and Aaron Coleman added 10. Jacksonville had 11 different players score in the game, led by Cortrell Eskridge with 13 and Morant with 12. Lockhart added seven and Terrell Eskridge had five.

SEARCY GIRLS 51, JACKSONVILLE 37

The Searcy Lady Lions, one of the top-ranked teams in Class 6A, scored the first 16 points of the game Tuesday night and easily toppled Jacksonville, 51-37.

Searcy guard Kayla Medley scored nine of her team-high 11 points in the opening quarter. Jacksonville did not score until Tanisha Cox sank a free throw with 17 seconds left in the first.

Replacing four starters to begin the second period, the Lady Lions continued to pour it on. An 11-2 run to open the frame put the game out of reach.

Reserve guard Lindsey McGary hit a pair of jumpers to push Searcy to a 27-3 advantage with 2:16 until halftime.

Jacksonville, which was led by Tyra Terry and Ciera Morant, each with 12 points, made the game respectable in the second half. Terry scored seven points in just more than a minute to pull the Lady Red Devils to within 47-37.

Searcy retaliated, though, sending its starters back to score the final four points of the game.
Medley was the only Lady Lion in double figures.