Leader Blues

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

SPORTS>>Lady Red Devils fall to Benton

Leader sportswriter

They came back to make it a game in the second half, but the Jacksonville Lady Red Devils could never get completely over the hump created by Benton in the first half.

The result was a third-place finish for the Lady Panthers with a 52-40 win over Jacksonville during the final day of the John Stanton/Wampus Cat Invitational at Wampus Cat Arena in Conway on Saturday afternoon. The Lady Devils settled for fourth.

The second meeting between the two teams went much like the first contest, with Benton dominating the first half to claim a huge lead at halftime before the Lady Red Devils (3-5) came roaring back in the final two quarters. The LadyPanthers led by as much as 19 points midway through the second quarter, but increased defensive pressure by Jacksonville helped it close the gap.

“We had to pick up our pressure, and they did that,” Lady Red Devils coach Katrina Mimms said. “We talked about it at halftime that we were going to have to switch it because we were behind. We made one little adjustment and tried to work on it.”

The Lady Panthers put the pressure on Terry throughout the game, holding her without a field goal until the final five minutes.

“Tyra was having trouble handling the ball because they put a bigger girl on her,” Mimms said. “So what we did was try to relieve some of that pressure and to let Crystal do it. And when we did that, it worked. She just couldn’t do it the whole time.

We didn’t have anyone else that we could bring in there, so Tyra did have to run it some.

“The second half was great. It was just a flat, non-emotion, lackadaisical first half that beat us.”

Benton post player Mattison Chilton proved to be the difference for the Lady Panthers down the stretch, scoring nine of her game-high 18 points in the final quarter. Chilton, in fact, scored all but one of Benton’s points in that time with good feeds from her teammates.

“We were telling them to make her go the opposite way that she wanted to go,” Mimms said. “She’s left-handed, so she’s always going to go left. We were trying to get them to make her go right, we just didn’t do it. She’s an outstanding post player.”

The Lady Red Devils’ second-half run began at the 1:29 mark of the third quarter when Sherice Randell hit a jumper to make it 41-24. Appollonia Sims narrowed the gap even more before the end of the period with a pair of free throws with 1:08 left, and hit a basket in the final 30 seconds to cut it to 41-28 heading into the fourth. Sims went on to lead Jacksonville with 13 points and three steals.

A three-point basket by point guard Tyra Terry with 4:50 left to play made it 45-35, and Sims followed a Chilton goal for Benton with an and-one to make it 47-38 with 3:25 remaining. It was as close as the Lady Red Devils could get, however, as Chilton put up two more baskets in the final minutes for Benton.

Randell added 10 point for the Lady Red Devils, with seven for Terry. Jacksonville had only 13 total rebounds for the game.

Jacksonville was sent to the third-place game by the host Lady Wampus Cats with a 50-32 decision in Friday’s semifinals.

Terry and junior post Jessica Lanier each had 10 points for the Lady Red Devils.