SPORTS >> Red Devils pounce early
Special to The Leader
Marion didn’t give up, but also didn’t have a chance against Jacksonville on Friday night at the Devils’ Den.
Jacksonville took the lead for good with the first shot of the game, cruising to a 53-42 win over the Patriots.
Deshone McClure drained a three-pointer to spark a 10-2 run to begin the game. McClure scored seven points during the run, including another three-pointer.
Jacksonville was forced into a slower tempo than coach Victor Joyner would like, but still held a comfortable lead throughout.
“We’ve got a bigger team, so they did what they had to do,” Joyner said. “He spread us out on defense and was really patient. So we adjusted and I thought did a pretty good job.”
McClure was the only Red Devil to score in double figures with 21 points. The junior guard did it both inside and outside with three dunks and three three-pointers.
The Red Devils’ largest lead came midway though the third quarter after a pair of Cortrell Eskridge free throws made the score 40-17. McClure had scored seven straight points before that with a dunk, followed by a steal at half court and another dunk. McClure’s third three followed.
Jacksonville had identical first-half runs at 15-7 in the first and second quarters.
Marion (11-14, 3-9) was able to cut into the lead in the fourth quarter, but never pulled the deficit within single digits.
“The guys seem to relax a little with a 20-point lead and you don’t want that,” said Joyner. “The other team is playing even harder trying to come back and you need to be able to keep that intensity. But we had another blessing tonight.”
Jacksonville improved to 17-3 overall and 10-1 in the 6A-East with the win. Laquinton Miles scored nine points, while Demetrius Harris added seven and Cortrell Eskridge six.
JACKSONVILLE GIRLS 47
The Jacksonville Lady Devils gave another tough opponent a scare, but also came up just short again against Marion.
Jacksonville fell 53-47 to the Lady Patriots on Friday night after fighting back from 17 points down.
“Our girls just don’t give up,” Jacksonville coach Katrina Mimms said. “Marion is a really good team, but we didn’t let ourselves get down mentally just because we were behind.”
Marion raced out to big lead at 15-6 after the first quarter and seemed to have control of the game early. The Lady Patriots are in third place in the 6A-East and ranked fourth overall in Class 6A.
Jacksonville was able to cut into that lead in the second quarter to go into halftime down 23-19.
Too many turnovers in the third quarter by Jacksonville allowed Marion to surge back ahead to a 42-29 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Marion quickly increased that lead to 46-29 after a pair of buckets.
Jacksonville seemed to have run out of gas with no points in the first two-and-a-half minutes of the fourth. Then suddenly, the shots started to fall for the Lady Red Devils.
Sherice Randell’s lay-up began a rally that turned into a 16-2 run for the Lady Red Devils. Tyra Terry scored the last six points of the run to pull Jacksonville within a single basket at 47-45.
After trading baskets, Marion made an extra free throw to take a 50-47 lead with just over one minute left to play.
But the rim finally became unkind to Jacksonville in the final seconds. Terry was fouled during a three-point attempt with 47 seconds remaining in the game. Each of the next three free-throw attempts was off just enough to bounce off the rim.
Jacksonville was forced to foul, but the Lady Patriots made 3 of 4 free throws in the final seconds to secure the win.
Marion improved to 20-4 overall and 9-3 in the 6A-East with the win. Jacksonville fell to 7-18 overall and 1-11 in conference action.
Terry led the Lady Red Devils with 15 points, while Randell added 12.