Leader Blues

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

SPORTS >> Devils slip at FC

By KELLY FENTON
Leader sports editor

FORREST CITY — Jacksonville coach Vic Joyner is still trying to get his young Red Devils to understand what being a front-runner is all about.

They got another lesson in that on Friday night when Forrest City jumped up and beat Jacksonville, 58-54, to knock the Red Devils out of a first-place tie with Jonesboro in the 6A-East.

“For the third game in a row, we didn’t show up defensively,” Joyner said after his Red Devils fell to 8-2 in league play, 11-11 overall. “When you’re a front runner, you’re going to take people’s best shot. Everybody’s trying to take you down.

“You got to come out and play as a front runner and play hard in the first half, to send a message you are better. Or you’re in a dog fight.”

After leading by a field goal at the half against a Forrest City team the Red Devils routed in their first meeting at the Devil’s
Den, Jacksonville found itself trailing by nine heading into the final period.

But the Red Devils rallied to take a one-point lead late in the game. The Mustangs (4-4, 10-10) responded with a three-pointer to go back on top. Forrest City held the ball and a one-point lead with 17 seconds when the pivotal play of the game took place.

“We fouled the guy we wanted,” Joyner said. “He missed it, and Demetrius Harris and Antwan Lockhart blocked out beautifully.”
But each thought the other was going to grab the ball. When neither one did, Forrest City grabbed the ball, made a basket and got fouled. The free throw extended the lead to four, the final margin of victory.

“It’s disheartening to come back like that and lose on one of those freakish things,”
Joyner said of the late slip.

Lockhart led a balanced Jacksonville scoring attack with 15 points. LaQuinton Miles added 10. Terrell Eskridge scored nine, Harris eight and Cortrell Eskridge seven.

Joyner was disappointed in the Red Devils’ offense over the first half.

“We didn’t execute, and we were doing those things that had us 3-9 to start the season,” he said. “But Terrell ran the point extremely well. He took control and played point guard extraordinaire. Demetrius and Antwan handled their business well, too. Demetrius shut down their big man inside to give us a chance.”

It turned out to be a little man that hurt Jacksonville on Friday, guard Jessie Mitchell. Mitchell poured in 26.

“He just busted our heads,” Joyner said. “He was unconscious. He was hitting shots with kids hanging on him. He’s going to be big-time.”

The Red Devils are now tied for second with West Memphis, who they will face on Friday. Jacksonville hosted winless Sylvan Hills last night in a game played after Leader deadlines. Joyner said he had no concerns that his team would look past the Bears.

“That’s one thing I haven’t had to tell them after starting off 3-9,” Joyner said. “They see a game for a game. They know you’ve got to win this one.

“They’ve just got to play front-runner-style basketball. Teams are going to play their best and hardest against you. You have to impose your will.”