SPORTS >> Red Devils roll along to eighth win in a row
Special to The Leader
Jonesboro gave Jacksonville all they could handle, but it wasn’t quite enough as the Golden Hurricane fell 59-52 Tuesday night at the Devils’ Den. It marked the eighth-straight win for the top-ranked Red Devils.
Jacksonville led by at least six points eight different times during the first three quarters. Each time, Jonesboro was able to come back within one possession of tying or taking the lead.
“I was proud of the way our kids hung in there and really had a chance to win against the number-one team in the state,” Jonesboro coach Barry Pruitt said. “It just seemed like they could turn it up on defense whenever they wanted to, shut us down, and go back up by six or eight points. That’s the best Jacksonville team I’ve seen since I’ve been here.”
Jonesboro tied the game at 40-40 with 25 seconds remaining in the third quarter thanks to a short jumper by Daniel Campbell. Cortrell Eskridge answered with a bucket at the end of the quarter, followed by baskets from Laquinton Miles and Antwan Lockhart to start the fourth quarter.
The Hurricane quickly pulled within two points only to have Eskridge score back-to-back baskets to make it a two-possession game for good. Eskridge led Jacksonville with 18 points and seven rebounds. Lockhart finished with 17 points.
“I thought we played uninspired and that’s not the way you want to win, but we’ll take it any way we can get it,” said Jacksonville coach Victor Joyner. “Coach Pruitt is going to be in the Hall of Fame one day. He’s too good of a coach to not play inspired against, because his guys are going to come in here ready to play.”
Campbell came off the bench to provide a spark for the Hurricane with 11 points – all during the first three quarters. Terrence Walker and Ryan Anderson led Jonesboro with 12 points apiece, while Lucas Nutt added another 11 points.
Jacksonville typically plays aggressive on defense, but Joyner thought they lacked intensity on Tuesday. That hurt Jonesboro in a way as Jacksonville committed just six fouls in the game and kept the Hurricane off the free throw line. Jonesboro was just 2 of 6 from the line, while Jacksonville was 12 of 19.
Jacksonville improved to 16-3 overall and 9-1 in the 6A-East with the win. Jonesboro fell to 14-10 and 4-7.
JONESBORO GIRLS 57,
During a fourth quarter timeout, Jonesboro coach David Daniel told his team that Jacksonville was like a bad habit – they just wouldn’t go away.
Jonesboro was finally able to break that habit over the final four minutes of the game and pulled away for a 57-40 win over the Lady Red Devils.
Jacksonville had pulled to within six points at 46-40 with just over four minutes remaining in the fourth, but Jonesboro didn’t allow another point while going on an 11-0 run to close out the contest.
Jacksonville trailed 13-8 after the first quarter, but played just about even with the Lady Hurricane for the next two quarters.
The Lady Red Devils’ defense kept Jonesboro out of synch for much of the game and especially in the first half. Jacksonville forced 11 first-half turnovers.
The fourth quarter, and really the game, came down to free throws.
The Lady Hurricane were 12 of 16 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter – including 10 of 12 over the final three minutes. Jacksonville was 0 for 4 from the line in the quarter and just 2 of 11 for the game. Jonesboro made 20 of 30 freebies in the game.
“The girls played hard, but the shots stopped falling there in the fourth quarter,” Jacksonville coach Katrina Mimms said. “We didn’t have any luck from the field or the line at the end of the fourth. Jonesboro made just about everything late and pulled away a little.”
Jacksonville shot well early with Tyra Terry making a pair of three pointers on her way to a team-high 13 points. All nine of Sherice Randell’s points came from beyond the arc. Coach Daniel switched his defense to a box-and-one on Terry in the first half to try and neutralize the Lady Devil.
Jonesboro’s Calendra Graham led all scorers with 23 points.