SPORTS >> Miles delivers dagger
Special to The Leader
WEST MEMPHIS — As Laquinton Miles brought the ball upcourt there was no doubt as to who was going to take the last shot for Jacksonville.
Miles, the lanky senior guard, almost willed his way into the lane and hit a floating jumper after being fouled with 1.7 seconds left here Tuesday night to give the Red Devils a 49-48 victory over West Memphis.
“He’s been doing it for us all year,” Jacksonville head coach Victor Joyner said of Miles. “We felt comfortable with him taking the last shot. If it goes in, great. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t matter.”
Miles’ heroics, which gave Jacksonville its first lead since the end of the third quarter, came after West Memphis forward Tarvin Gaines, who hit a game-high 18 points, missed the front end of a one-and-one with 13.2 seconds to play and the Blue Devils leading 48-47.
“We figured if (Miles) got down in there and didn’t lose the ball on the initial take-off, then he’d be able to jump up and finish,” Joyner added. “It was just one of those things where he had about a four-inch height advantage (over West Memphis’ Rikendal Weast).”
Jacksonville’s comeback keeps the team on pace to win at least a share of the 6A-East Conference championship. The Red Devils (20-3 overall, 11-1 in the conference) have two remaining games against last-place Mountain Home. Little Rock Hall (25-2, 12-1) is a half-game ahead of Jacksonville, but the Warriors have one game left, and it’s not a gimme.
The Warriors travel to fifth-place Jonesboro on Friday night. Jacksonville hosted the Bombers last night and will travel to Mountain Home for a make-up game today. The Red Devils hold the tiebreak over Hall.
With West Memphis (18-7, 9-4) controlling the game through virtually the entire fourth quarter, the Red Devils pulled off two crucial plays.
They fouled out both 6-10 center Anthony Borden and 5-11 guard Derrick Burns, who scored nine of his 11 points in the second half. Burns was gone for the final 4:33 of the game and Borden, who was largely a non-factor once again against Jacksonville, sat the last 1:10 of the game, a span that saw the visitors outscore West Memphis 6-0 to end the game.
“We’ve been fortunate against (Borden) this year,” Joyner said, noting Borden has only scored seven points in the two games this season. “But the difference in this game was that (Burns) picked it up. Last time we played them we were able to contain their guards.”
The Red Devils, who outrebounded West Memphis 29-23, got two free throws from Demetrius Harris and a 10-foot jumper from Antawn Lockhart following a Blue Devil turnover with 35 seconds to play.
West Memphis was all set to force Jacksonville to foul, which it did. Gaines, one of West Memphis’ best free-throw shooters and its leading scorer on the season, missed the front end of the one-and-one to set up Miles’ last-second winner.
Miles led Jacksonville with 16 points while Deshone McClure pumped in 10 and Harris scored seven. West Memphis also got six points apiece from Kevin and Jonathan Fitzgerald.
Earlier in the evening, the West Memphis girls flexed their muscles with a 57-35 win over Jacksonville. West Memphis ran out to a 37-12 lead at halftime and then rested its starters for a winner-take-all match-up against Little Rock Parkview on Friday night.
Jessica Lanier and Sherice Randall scored 12 points each to lead Jacksonville (7-17, 1-11) while Tyra Terry added five.
West Memphis (20-5, 12-1) got a game-high 18 points from Simone Young and 11 more from forward Jazimen Gordon.