Leader Blues

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

SPORTS>> Red Devils roll Rockets

By RAY BENTON
Special to The Leader

A game of runs ended with a good one for the home team Saturday afternoon in Jacksonville. The hosting Red Devils held the Catholic Rockets without a field goal and to just one point in the fourth quarter of a 53-42 victory.

It was the final answer in a game that had seen each team make two big runs. Jacksonville’s, though, came at the end of each half when it counted most.

The Red Devils (7-2) started sluggish and fell behindearly. Catholic out-rebounded Jacksonville 11-5 in the first half and led by as much as seven points late in the second quarter. That’s when Jacksonville turned up the intensity. Trailing 25-18 with three minutes left in the half, Jacksonville scored the final nine points of the half to go into intermission with a 27-25 lead, its first lead of the game.

Playing without three key players who were gone for the holidays, Jacksonville got a lift from an unexpected source to kick start the second quarter surge.

Richard Johnson came off the bench and got two quick steals, a key rebound, an assist and a three pointer.

“If we talk about anybody in this game we have to talk about little Richard,” Jacksonville coach Vic Joyner said of his reserve guard. “We got both of our point guards out for this game and we weren’t getting in any kind of rhythm. He came in and gave us a big boost. He hadn’t played any varsity up to this point and he stepped it up when his number was called.”

The Red Devils picked up right where they left off to start the third. The run reached 14 unanswered points and Jacksonville’s lead grew to 32-25, but Catholic came right back and dominated the last six minutes of the third quarter.

The Rockets closed the period with a 16-4 run and took a 41-35 lead into the fourth quarter.

From there it was all Jackson-ville. The Red Devils began pressuring defensively everywhere on the court, and Catholic obliged with five turnovers in the final quarter. The Rockets took only eight shots in the fourth quarter and missed them all. Meanwhile the Red Devil inside combination of Demetrius Harris and Cortrell Eskridge took over the game. Eskridge scored all eight of his points in the fourth quarter and added three rebounds and two assists to his totals. Harris led the team with 13 points and eight boards.

Despite the poor start on the boards, Jacksonville finished with a 21-15 advantage on the glass.

“We didn’t really talk about rebounding at halftime, we just talked about playing with more intensity,” Joyner said. “We’ve been a second-half team all season. We hadn’t really come out and played well in the first half at all this year. That’s something we’ve got to address because in this conference, you’re not going to get away with that. You’re going to be out of it by the time you decide to start playing if you wait until the second half in this league.”

Jacksonville forced 16 Catholic turnovers, and despite being without a point guard, committed just six turnovers in the game.