Jacksonville had a little tune-up Tuesday night at Little Rock Christian before heading into Friday night’s main even at North Pulaski.
The Red Devils (9-3, 2-0) raced out to a 10-0 lead within two minutes, and led 22-4 before the Warriors knew what was happening.
"Our press was able to force a lot of turnovers early," said Jacksonville coach Victor Joyner. "That plus us really crashing the boards and grabbing offensive rebounds all game let us take control."
A long delay for an injured Little Rock Christian player in the third quarter took the Red Devils out of rhythm for a few minutes and allowed the Warriors to cut the lead to 16 points against Jacksonville’s second squad. Jacksonville settled in and sent the game to a mercy-rule finish in the fourth quarter.
"We gave up some three-pointers in the third quarter, which I was afraid of because I knew they could hit those," Joyner said. "We got back right and finished strong though."
Aaron Smith led Jacksonville with 17 points. Justin McCleary added 15 points in the win.
Jacksonville and cross-town rival North Pulaski square off against one another Friday night. The Falcons fell to Pulaski Academy Tuesday night, while Jacksonville is ranked in the overall top ten in the state in most every poll.
The Red Devils will be the favorites heading into the game, but Joyner knows to throw out everything that has happened so far when it comes to the rivalry matchup.
"This is going to be a slugfest, it always is," said Joyner. "Throw the records and whatever else out the window. This is Jacksonville-North Pulaski, plus now it is a conference game, so it will definitely be a war."
As the underdogs, North Pulaski will have that extra incentive to come out strong against Jacksonville.
"Oh, there’s no doubt they’ll play the hardest they have all year long," said Joyner. "I expect our kids will too, but I know North Pulaski will come out ready. These kids all know each other and want those bragging rights."