Golden Hurricane too much for Blue Devils
Jonesboro defends home court against West Memphis
WM School District JONESBORO — After his team was on the losing end of a 19-point game here on Tuesday night, Marcus Brown sounded like a man who didn't feel defeated despite his team's outcome.
'I'm encouraged,' said the West Memphis Blue Devil head coach. 'If we stay together and do the things we're supposed to do we're going to be all right going forward. If we'd played like this earlier in the season our record right now would look different.'
Despite Jonesboro's 71-52 victory over West Memphis, the Blue Devils (6-8 overall, 2-2 in the 5AEast Conference) played the Hurricane much closer than that.
It was Jonesboro's first win over the Blue Devils, who had won the last four meetings, in three years.
Jonesboro's head coach, Wes Swift, had much to say about the Blue Devils after the game.
'The truth is we haven't played a lot of games so far this season,' said Swift, whose team is now 7-3 overall and 3-0 in the conference. 'We haven't been guarded this season the way West Memphis guarded us tonight. We needed to see defense like that. I do think we responded to it well, though.'
They did indeed.
Jonesboro trailed most of the first half as the Blue Devils held the Hurricane to 6 of 15 shooting from the field. West Memphis, which held two leads of seven points in the first half, led 28-27 at intermission.
But the Hurricane caught fire in the third quarter, carrying over into the first few minutes of the fourth quarter.
The hosts connected on 10
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Photos by Billy Woods BLUE DEVILS (cont.)
of 16 shots in the third quarter and then swished their first four shots of the fourth quarter, including a pair of extra deep 3-pointers by senior point guard Keylin McBride, the game's high scorer with 19 points.
'I thought the first three minutes of the third quarter were very important for us,' said Brown. 'And then all of a sudden (Jonesboro) just exploded.'
The Blue Devils turned it over on their first three possessions of the third quarter and Jonesboro cashed it in by scoring the first eight points of the stanza to take a 35-28 lead with 4:52 to play in the quarter.
A fall-away jumper by Calvin Butler, the Blue Devils' leading scorer with 18 points, made the score 39-34 Jonesboro, but the home team went on a torrid shooting spree which included three 3-pointers to the 6:38 mark of the fourth quarter.
By that time the Hurricane had stretched their lead to 53-34.
Jonesboro shot 54 percent (20 of 37) in the second half, forced 15 West Memphis turnovers and outrebounded the Blue Devils 32-27.
The first half was especially pleasing to Brown.
'My kids showed me a lot of stuff in the first half,' he commented. 'Stuff that we need more of from here on out. We have to be more consistent with the things we were doing in the first half. It starts in practice.
We have to be more attentive. We have lapses like that in practice. But overall I like the way we're playing right now.
'We still have plenty of basketball left in the season. It's a marathon. We have to steal one on the road, though.'
The Blue Devils also got 9 points from senior Jordan Mitchell while Jalen Moore had 8 and Dequarious Birdo chipped in 6.
Jonesboro placed three players in the double figures with Devarious Montgomery and Jessie Washington each hitting 12 points.
The Blue Devils return home to Lehr Arena on Friday night to take on Paragould.