Leader Blues

Monday, December 14, 2009

SPORTS >> Jacksonville fires up the press in victory

By JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

Mid-court domination was the key for the Jacksonville Lady Red Devils as they clubbed Little Rock Fair 64-30 in the consolation round of the John Stanton Wampus Cat Invitational at Conway High School on Thursday.

The Lady Red Devils (4-3) used a pestering, full-court press to produce 18 steals, including an impressive seven by senior guard Sherice Randell, as Jacksonville mercy-ruled Fair to move on to today’s consolation finals.

Jacksonville led in most categories including, unfortunately, missed shots. Jacksonville was 26 of 56 (46.4 percent) despite a 10-of-15 field-goal performance in the first quarter.

Fair’s frequent turnovers allowed it fewer opportunities. The Lady War Eagles gave up the ball 30 times, and went 10 of 37 for 27 percent.

The Lady Red Devils’ defensive mindset may not have made for the best shooting night, but they compensated by controlling the rebounds 39-20. Senior post Jessica Lanier had a game-high seven rebounds.

Lady Devils coach Katrina Mimms was pleased with her team’s stifling press.

“That’s something we’ve been working on,” she said. “We haven’t really used it in a game. We went to it a little bit in the Nettleton game in the second half, and we’ve just been working on it a little bit in practice.

“So we wanted to come out and be a little more aggressive defensively instead of playing off and playing back. Hopefully, we get a quick lay-up or two — kind of get things going and try to help us get off because the games we’ve been losing, we’ve been getting behind real early.”

The four Jacksonville senior starters were content to send the youngster to the hoop for the most part. Freshman forward Jessica Jackson led the Lady Red Devils with 14 points, and also contributed two steals and a pair of blocks along with five rebounds.
Senior Apollonia Sims came off the bench to add 13 points for Jacksonville as the only other double-digit scorer. In all, 11 different Lady Devils scored, and 13 of the 15 players on the roster made their way into the rotation at some point.

Sims had four field goals and went 5 of 8 from the free-throw line.

“Sims did a good job, and that’s kind of her game to get to that free-throw line and be a banger,” Mimms said. “When you get the ball, you’re smaller to be a post player, so she knows that she has to make the strong post moves and go up strong with it and hope to draw the foul to get herself to the free-throw line. So she did a much better job tonight than she did the other night.”

The press led to a Jacksonville run to open the game. Randel scored off a steal and assist from Essica Walker for the first points of the game with 6:11 left in the first quarter. Jackson followed with a lay-up and Lanier drove to the low block and scored to give the Lady Devils a 6-0 lead. Jacksonville scored the first 12 points before Fair’s Micah Farmer finally put the Lady War Eagles on the scoreboard with 3:12 left in the first period.

It was more of the same in subsequent quarters. Jacksonville held Fair to only two field goals in the entire second half and three points in the fourth quarter, all from the free-throw line.

The Lady Red Devils will play Benton in the fifth-place consolation game at 1 p.m. today. Benton beat Springdale 57-45 in the other consolation game Thursday.