Leader Blues

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

SPORTS >> Red Devils earn top seed

By CHAD MATCHETT
Special to The Leader

Jacksonville heads into the playoffs riding a 12-game winning streak following wins over Mountain Home on Friday and Monday.

The Red Devils defeated Mountain Home 55-30 Friday night at the Devils’ Den and 61-30 in The Hangar at Mountain Home on Monday in a makeup game from earlier in the season. The two victories secured a 6A-East co-championship along with Little Rock Hall, but the Red Devils will be the No. 1 seed at the state tournament.

Jacksonville could have had a mercy-rule win on Friday, but shooting woes from the free-throw line prevented it from doing so. The Devils were just 11 of 33 from the line.

“That was a hard-fought game,” Jacksonville coach Victor Joyner said. “That’s the most aggressive team we’ve seen all year. We’ve been shooting free throws pretty well, but tonight was just one of those things. ”

The Red Devils may have had their problems at the line, but shots from beyond the perimeter were going down easily.

Five different Jacksonville players combined to make eight three-pointers, including four by junior shooting guard DeShone McClure.

“DeShone has been carrying our offense all year,” said Joyner. “He’s consistent and can do it inside or outside.”

McClure finished with 21 points and was the only Red Devil over 50 percent from the free-throw line, making 5 of 7.

LaQuinton Miles made the first shot of the game — a three-pointer — to start the contest with a 13-2 run.

A baseline floater by Raheem Appleby early in the second quarter gave Jacksonville an 18-7 lead that would stay in double digits for the remainder of the game.

Jacksonville outrebounded Mountain Home (2-24, 0-13) 36-20, including 16 offensive rebounds. Cortrell Eskridge scored seven points while pulling down 10 rebounds. Antonio Roy added another eight rebounds for the Red Devils.

“We did a good job fighting with those guys and getting rebounds, but they wouldn’t let us go up for the putback,” said Joyner. “Then when we went to the free throw line, we couldn’t make those.”

Jacksonville was scheduled to play the makeup game on Saturday, but more winter weather conditions forced the game to be moved to Monday.

Jacksonville didn’t have much trouble with the Bombers on Monday either, with most of the team seeing plenty of playing time. The Devils spread out the scoring with Miles leading the way with 13 points. Eskridge and McClure were right behind with 12 points each.

Jacksonville will play the winner of Jonesboro and Benton on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at the state tournament in West Memphis.