Leader Blues

Friday, January 23, 2009

SPORTS>>Miles’ 20 points leads Red Devils to critical road win at Jonesboro

By KELLY FENTON
Leader sports editor

JONESBORO — Vic Joyner figures that week off following the Little Rock Parkview and Little Rock Hall games was absolutely essential.

His Jacksonville Red Devils returned to action with an easy win at Searcy last Friday, setting them up for a critical road trip to Jonesboro, where Joyner has never won.

He has now. Behind 20 points from Laquinton Miles, the Red Devils rallied from a three-point halftime deficit to pull away for a 60-43 win over the Hurricane on Tuesday night.

“That week off was humongous,” Joyner said. “We burned a lot of energy (playing two of the top teams in the league back to back) and we just needed to get away from the pressure of the game. We had four days to work on different things.

“You could see the relaxation in their eyes and in their body language. They and the coaches were able to take a deep breath.”

The victory helped offset the three-point loss to defending 6A champion Hall at home on Jan. 16 and improved the Red Devils to 3-1 in the 6A-East, 10-3 overall. Jacksonville opened league play with home battles against two of the top teams in 6A.

After struggling enough in the first half to earn him a seat on the bench, Demetrius Harris came to life in the second half to finish with 14 points.

“Antonio Roy was the only big man to give us much energy in the first half,” Joyner said. “I challenged Antwan (Lockhart) and Demetrius to (pick it up) and they did. I put Demetrius on the bench in the first half and he must have looked up at what Antonio and Cortrell were doing and said, ‘Dang.’”

The Red Devils fell behind by as many as eight points early, the result of poor outside shooting and lackadaisical defense. Joyner said the Jonesboro crowd wasn’t nearly as energetic as it often is and his kids reflected that early on.

“We didn’t play a lick of defense in the first half,” Joyner said. “We didn’t disrupt them at all and let them cut and move anywhere they wanted to go.”

Going inside was just the ticket for a Jacksonville team which made only 3 of 15 from beyond the arc. Miles got four dunks in the contest, helping the Red Devils make nearly 55 percent of their shots from the floor.

“Jonesboro isn’t as deep as they usually are and they tried to slow the game down,” Joyner said. “They packed in their zone and we didn’t hit from outside. We weren’t working hard to get the ball to the post men early.

“But we got into their legs in the second half and they started to tire.”

Cortrell Eskridge was the only other Red Devil in double figures with 10, marking the fourth game in which long-range threat Deshone McClure has not reached double digits. That’s something Joyner can live with.

“Shone is playing into the team concept more,” Joyner said. “Everybody’s used to him coming out and shooting a bunch of shots. But he is a whole lot more selective and he is more effective now than when he’s scoring a bunch of points.

“He’s not taking a back seat to anybody, but we’ve got eight or nine guys that can score five or six points and that adds up.”

Jacksonville traveled to Marion last night for a game played after Leader deadlines. The Patriots have bounced back from a 70-17 shellacking to Hall in their league opener to improve to 2-2, 11-7 overall. That included a road win at Jonesboro.

“They’re way, way better than (the Hall game),” Joyner said. “They’re very young and they weren’t used to that kind of atmosphere and that kind of talent at Hall. But those youngsters have grown up.”

JONESBORO GIRLS 50,
JACKSONVILLE 34

Turnovers and poor shooting combined to send Jacksonville to its third loss in four 6A-East contests.

The Lady Red Devils made only 10 of 38 shots from the field and committed seven turnovers over a critical stretch of the second period, when they went from an 8-6 lead to a 19-13 deficit at the half.

Jacksonville took on Marion (14-2, 3-1) in a game played last night after Leader deadlines. The Lady Red Devils fell in December to the Lady Pats, 49-44, in the Mills Invitational. Marion is coming off a 46-16 trouncing of Mountain Home on Tuesday.