SPORTS>>Red Devils win third straight on the road
Leader sports editor
Jacksonville head coach Vic Joyner insists his Red Devils were over their disappointing Jan. 9 loss to Little Rock Hall the very next afternoon at practice.
All indications are that he was right.
The Red Devils have taken care of business since, winning three consecutive — all on the road — to keep pace with the first-place Warriors. The latest was a 55-45 victory at Marion on Friday night.
Hall, though banged up, still had plenty of firepower to beat Searcy on Friday and improve to 4-0 in the 6A-East, a half-game ahead of 4-1 Jacksonville and West Memphis. The Blue Devils, who lost by two points on the road to Hall earlier in the season, were to have played at Jacksonville last night before weather postponed the game.
LaQuinton Miles led another balanced Jacksonville attack on Friday with 12 points as the Red Devils rolled out to a comfortable lead before putting the game away with a big third quarter.
“We’re just playing steady,” said Joyner. “We keep plugging away. We (had a big one last night against West Memphis). We need to step up to the challenges.”
Marion, which fell to 2-3 in league play, was down by as many as 25 points before a late rally put a little scare into the Red Devils.
“I put in some subs and we turned it over quite a bit,” Joyner said. “We put the starters back in, but they had the momentum and it was hard for us to get it back.”
Though Marion never got to within nine points, Joyner said it was a little scary down the stretch because of how far the Patriots had climbed to get back into it.
“We were missing some shots we should have hit and the officials were letting (Marion) get aggressive when they were trying to get back in it,” Joyner said. “The kids were getting a little frustrated because of the calls, but they mostly settled down.”
Jacksonville led 23-13 at the half, then came out on fire in the third quarter to put it away. The Patriots were packing in their defense, but the Red Devils began to open things up when Miles hit a three and Deshone McClure added two more to open the second half and start a 15-2 run.
“We can’t continue to wait so long to get started,” Joyner said. “But with them packing it in and jamming up our big men inside, it takes a little while to get into rhythm.”
After Miles and McClure hit the threes, Jacksonville pounded it inside, getting buckets in close by Demetrius Harris, Antwon Lockhart and Antonio Roy.
Miles was the only Red Devil in double figures, though five others scored five or more points, led by Cortrell Eskridge’s nine. McClure and Harris added eight, Roy had seven and Lockhart five.
Jacksonville hit 5 of 11 three-pointers and pulled down 12 offensive rebounds — 31 overall. The Red Devils improved to 11-3 overall.
“Our guys have grown up a lot since last year,” Joyner said. “They’re accepting their roles and are a little more coachable. It takes sacrifices on everybody’s part, including the players, the coaches and the fans.”
MARION GIRLS 55,
The Lady Red Devils dropped their third straight to fall to 7-10 overall, 1-4 in conference play. After beating Little Rock Hall to even their league mark, Jacksonville has fallen to Searcy, Jonesboro and Marion.
Jessica Lanier scored 12 points for the Lady Red Devils, who hosted West Memphis last night in a game played after Leader deadlines.