SPORTS >> Falcons beat rival Devils
By JASON KING
It had everything. A capacity crowd, a playoff atmosphere, a dancing Falcon mascot and even an annoying local disc jockey named “Peazey” who served as master of ceremonies.
But the North Pulaski Falcons played through the distractions for a 65-55 victory over crosstown rival Jacksonville on Tuesday night at the Falcons Nest.
Senior Kyron Ware scored 23 points to lead the way for the Falcons (4-0), who pressured the Red Devils into critical turnovers with a man-to-man defensive attack used sporadically throughout the non-conference game.
North Pulaski, of the 5A-Southeast Conference, took momentum in the second quarter and took the game over completely in the third. North Pulaski led by 15 with 5:32 left and Jacksonville, the defending 6A state champion, cut it to 10, which was as close as it could get for most of the night.
“We just didn’t consistently play good defense,” North Pulaski coach Raymond Cooper said. “And I was disappointed in that.
We played in spots instead of playing with the kind of intensity level we did in our first couple of games. We took a couple of steps back, and I guess I’m at a loss as to why we’re doing that.”
Red Devils senior shooting guard Deshone McClure scored 20 points, hitting four three-pointers, and former Falcon T.J. Green, who transferred to Jacksonville, scored 14 and made two three-pointers.
Ware handled much of the scoring for North Pulaski, but it was teammate DaQuan Bryant’s dirty work inside that limited Jacksonville’s second chances on the defensive side and set up a few strategic offensive possessions for the Falcons. Bryant had 10 points and a team-high 10 rebounds, as well as three assists and two steals.
“Offensively, we were out of sync,” Cooper said. “We were a little bit erratic. We didn’t have any flow to our game — there was too much off the dribble and not enough off the pass. Anytime you can beat Jacksonville, it’s a good win, but I’m concerned more about the way we’re playing right now.”
Ware was at his busiest for North Pulaski midway through the second quarter. McClure tied the game 17-17 for the Red Devils with back-to-back jumpers before Falcons guard Aaron Cooper made an inside basket for the 19-17 lead.
Ware then made the first of two consecutive three-pointers with 4:49 left in the half and followed with the other just over 30 seconds later to give North Pulaski a 25-17 lead.
Bryan Colson set Ware up again with 3:59 left in the half when he picked off a pass and fed it to Ware for an open layup, and Ware completed his 10-point flurry with a putback after Cooper got a steal and drove for a missed a layup.
But none of Ware’s points fired up the crowd as much as his alley-oop dunk with 6:39 left in the third quarter. Bryant set Ware up with a lob from the top of the key, and the play made it 38-29 North Pulaski.
Falcon freshman Dayshwan Watkins extended the lead to 13 with a three-pointer with 1:07 left in the third, but Green answered for Jacksonville with a basket and free throw to make it 50-40 heading into the final period.
The bonuses caught up with Jacksonville in the final eight minutes, and North Pulaski made the most of their trips to the free-throw line by going 9 of 12. Senior guard Joe Agee hit a basket, North Pulaski’s final field goal of the night, and a free throw with 4:49 left to extend the Falcons’ lead to 58-45.