Leader Blues

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

SPORTS >>Lady Devils’ coach looks to next year

By KELLY FENTON

Leader sports editorCount Jonesboro head coach David Daniel among those who see the progress.

“Jacksonville is much improved over last year,” said the Lady Hurricane head man after Jonesboro closed out the regular season with a 63-50 over the Lady Red Devils on Friday night at the Devil’s Den. “The little [Tyra] Terry girl canreally shot it. (Jessica) Lanier inside is going to be a force. [Kita] Walker is going to be a force.

“[Jacksonville] is going to be a force to reckon with.”

Though the Lady Devils managed just two wins in the 6A-East play this season, first-year head coach Katrina Mimms is using other measuring sticks for her young team’s progress.

“From the beginning [of the season] to the end, I don’t even think you can measure the success we’ve had, outside of wins and losses,” she said. “If you count wins and losses, it may not look like a success. But if you go and look at the team, then to now, it’s just unbelievable.”

If you were to just use the Lady Devils’ two games with Jonesboro as a gage, you’d probably come away with the same assessment. In their first meeting last month, the Lady Hurricane, who will be a No. 5 seed in the state tournament this week, jumped out to a 20-2 lead.

On Friday, Jacksonville was right with them, and trailed only 15-14 midway through the second period. Jonesboro’s 9-0 run at that point allowed the Lady Hurricane to gain a comfortable lead they never relinquished.

Crystal Washington hit a 16-footer, made 1-of-2 free throws and scored on a layup to keep Jacksonville within 28-19 at intermission.

But the Lady Hurricane opened the second half on a 14-4 run to push the lead to 19 with 2:53 left in the third. Jacksonville never got closer than 12 the rest of the way.

Terry hit three three-pointers to lead the Lady Devils with 11 points. She also had two assists and three steals. Lanier added 10 points, eight rebounds and two blocks. Sherice Randell and Washington each added seven points, while Walker chipped in six points and six boards. Shanita Johnson, the team’s lone senior, had four points and three assists.

The Lady Devils, prone to turnovers this season, took much better care of the basketball and committed only 16 on Friday.

“This team never quit and that’s commendable, especially with a group of sophomores,” Mimms said. “I feel like they’re hungry for wins next year. They don’t want to repeat seven wins.”

Mimms said many of the girls would play AAU or attend camps in the summer. With Johnson graduating, Jacksonville will be looking to find a point guard. She said she has a freshman coming up who might fill the role.

“The measuring stick will come next year,” Mimms said. “If next year we come out and win 15 or 16 games, you can say they passed the test because now you’re moving forward.”