Leader Blues

Friday, February 06, 2009

SPORTS>>Red Devils out-muscle foe in key league win

By RAY BENTON
Special to The Leader

The Jacksonville Red Devils broke a mid-season tie and now stand alone in second place in the 6A-East standing after beating West Memphis 63-53 Tuesday night in the Devils’ Den at Jacksonville High.

Jacksonville is now 5-1 in league play and one game behind league-leading Little Rock Hall, while West Memphis fell to 5-2.

West Memphis is one of the few teams this season to enjoy a height advantage over the Red Devils, but the Blue Devil big men couldn’t match Jacksonville in intensity. The Red Devils out-rebounded the taller Blue Devils 38-21.

Jacksonville senior forward Cortrell Eskridge picked up five rebounds in the first five minutes of the game before being taken out and given a rest. His substitute, Antonio Roy, was just as effective. Jacksonville’s four big men, Eskridge, Roy, and starters Demetrius Harris and Antwan Lockhart, combined for 32 of Jacksonville’s 38 rebounds.

“We’ve got four guys that are battling for minutes,” Jacksonville coach Vic Joyner said. “They battle like that against each other every day in practice. They’re just bringing that to the game.”

Jacksonville ran out to an early 7-0 lead. Eskridge started things off with a putback, followed by a three by junior DeShone McClure. When senior guard LaQuentin Miles hit a driving lay-up in traffic, West Memphis coach Larry Bray called time-out with 6:40 left in the first quarter to halt the home team’s momentum.

The time-out was a wise one. After the break, Jacksonville couldn’t find the rim. West Memphis wasn’t lighting up the scoreboard either, but the momentum was gone. Gradually, the Blue Devils worked their way back into the game, even tying the score at 12-12 with 18 seconds left in the opening period. Jacksonville senior guard Stan Appleby gave the Red Devils the lead for good when he hit a running 10-footer at the buzzer.

Roy made his presence known in the second quarter, picking up five rebounds, including two on the offensive end that resulted in second-chance baskets. Four of Jacksonville’s five two-point baskets in the second quarter came off offensive rebounds. Lockhart and Miles each got second-chance buckets. Eskridge scored on a spin move in the lane and McClure hit another of his four three-pointers as the Red Devils took a 31-26 lead into the break.

True to form for Jacksonville this season, the Red Devils came out strong in the third quarter and took control of the game. McClure hit two threes and Jacksonville added 12 more in the paint. The lead grew to as much as 17 before settling at 49-35 at the end of three.

Jacksonville’s struggles from the free-throw line emerged again in the final period as the Red Devils were unable to put the visitors away until late. Jacksonville was 10 of 16 from the charity stripe through three quarters, but hit just 6 of 16 in the final quarter when the Blue Devils began to foul to extend the game.

Jacksonville, though, continued to play tough defense and West Memphis found capitalizing on all the missed free throws a difficult task.

“We had our game plan and they had theirs, and they just put theirs together better than we did,” West Memphis head coach Larry Bray said. “We missed some close shots in the first quarter, but I think Jacksonville’s defense had something to do with that. I give them all the credit.”

West Memphis shot just 34 percent from the field, hitting 19 of 56 attempts. Jacksonville was just below 40 percent, hitting 21 of 53 attempts.

The Red Devils defense held the Blue Devil post duo of 6-foot-10 Anthony Borden and 6-7 B.J. Rossell to 20 points. The two have averaged a combined 37 points per game this season. Rossell led the way with 12 points for West Memphis.

McClure was Jacksonville’s leading scorer with 21 points. Miles added 15 while Eskridge chalked up 12 points, 12 rebounds, two steals, two blocks and two assists.

Jacksonville improved to 14-3 overall while West Memphis fell to 14-5.

“Really, I just thought the ball rolled our way early,” Joyner said. “The bounces went our way. That’s a good basketball team over there.”

W. MEMPHIS GIRLS 57,
JACKSONVILLE 37

The Lady Devils dropped their game to the perennial powerhouse West Memphis girls. West Memphis led 37-11 at halftime, and a 50-foot shot at the buzzer spared Jacksonville the mercy rule, pulling the Lady Devils to within 50-21 to start the fourth period.

Most of the fourth quarter was played with reserves, and Jacksonville out-scored their visitors 16-7 in the final frame to set the final margin.

Tyra Terry led Jacksonville with 11 points. West Memphis senior guard Simone Young led her team with 16 points while junior Shelby Fenter added 13.

Jacksonville falls to 5-11 overall and 1-5 in league play with the loss. West Memphis improved to 14-6 and 6-1.