Jacksonville’s offense got better each quarter Friday night, culminating in a 66-36 win over crosstown rival North Pulaski.
"I thought we did a great job defensively and also rebounded pretty well," said Jacksonville coach Victor Joyner. "I knew his kids would play hard in a rivalry game like this, but we kept them from getting many second shots."
The Red Devils led 16-5 late in the first quarter, but the Falcons came back in the final minute with a three-point play from Willie Frazier and a last second bucket by Arren Scruggs.
North Pulaski’s comeback wouldn’t extend into the second quarter however, as Jacksonville retook a double-figure lead in the opening minute. Jacksonville went on an 8-0 run to close the first half and take a 34-16 lead into the locker room.
Jacksonville actually shot under 40 percent from the field in the first quarter, but bounced back quickly as the Red Devil guards began getting passes inside, as well as kickouts for open jumpers in the middle quarters.
Kahleel Hart took advantage of those passes to lead Jacksonville with 20 points. Justin McCleary scored 11 points to go with eight rebounds and seven assists. Sergio Berkley scored 11 points, making a pair of three-pointers off of McCleary passes. Joe Aikens led North Pulaski with 11 points.
"Kahleel has had a couple games like that now, he just plays so dang hard," Joyner said. "You think he’d eventually get tired because he goes non-stop in practice and out here in games, but he never does.
Hart scored six points early in the second quarter. The Red Devils went on a 15-2 run from the 2:53 mark of the second quarter to 5:27 in the third quarter, pushing the lead to 41-18 at that point. Brandon Brockman scored all night of his points for Jacksonville in the third.
"We lost our man a couple times in there, but for the most part the defense did a great job communicating and switching," Joyner said. "They want to hand off and then spread the floor, but the defense made it tough."
Jacksonville improved to 10-3 overall and 3-0 in the conference. The Falcons fell to 7-6 overall and 1-2 in conference.
The Red Devils travel to West Helena on Friday to take on the Cougars. Helena is 1-2 in the 5A-Central, with a win over Sylvan Hills and losses to North Pulaski and Little Rock McClellan.