West Memphis High School Athletics


Williams ensures Blue Devil win with two free throws at Mt. Home


WM School District | 1/31/2020

PHOTO CREDIT: West Memphis High School Athletics

With starting point guard Jordan Mitchell in a walking boot and unavailable and superstar forward Chris Moore out of the game after drawing a second quick foul, the West Memphis Blue Devils looked severely handicapped late in the first quarter here on Friday night.

But the Blue Devils got a solid game from senior guard Immanuel Hoard and Moore was able to return to the game and be a factor in West Memphis' 49-45 victory over Mountain Home.

Mitchell, the team's sparkplug on offense, was held out of action with a sore ankle. Blue Devil head coach Marcus Brown, however, said Mitchell will be a full go next Friday night as the team hosts Marion in a big 5A-East Conference clash.

Brown inserted senior point guard Deon Williams in the starting lineup and the reserve sank two clutch free throws with 5.2 seconds left to cinch the outcome for the Blue Devils (17-3 overall, 7-0 in the conference).

West Memphis, ranked No. 1 in the state overall by MaxPreps and No. 2 overall in the Arkansas Sports Media Poll, completed a perfect run through the first half of the 5A-East round robin. It will take Tuesday off before beginning the second half at Lehr Arena against the Patriots.

Mountain Home (12-9, 2-5) has posted two major non-conference wins against top Class 6A and 5A schools in Fayetteville and Russellville. Plus, the Blue Devils handed the Bombers their first home defeat of the season.

"Our kids played hard. They left it all out on the court," said Brown. "We just didn't play smart all the time."

Playing their usual slow pace, the Bombers gave themselves a shot at beating the Blue Devils by committing just 8 turnovers on the night. But the hosts led just twice in the game, early in the second quarter and then again early in the third quarter.

Hoard, who led the Blue Devils with 15 points, sank a three-pointer with 4:26 to play in the fourth quarter to give the visitors a 41-34 lead.

But Mountain Home answered back with two baskets by Mat Jones, one of them a three-pointer, to make it a 41-39 West Memphis lead with 2:49 to play.

That's when Moore, who scored 14 points, took matters into his own hands, bringing the ball down court and then taking his man off the dribble for an easy layup in the halfcourt. That was followed by another basket by Hoard to make it 45-39 with 1:42 to play.

Later, with the Blue Devil lead at 47-43, Moore picked up his fourth foul with 6.9 seconds to play, which sent the sharp shooting Jones to the free-throw line, where he drained both shots to make it a two-point West Memphis lead.

With a foul still to give, Moore was fouled by Dawson Tabor with 5.9 seconds to play. On the inbounds, Williams was fouled by Mountain Home's Wyatt Gilbert sending the West Memphis senior to the free-throw line.

Miss, and it gives the hosts a chance to win at the buzzer with a three-pointer. Make it, and the Blue Devils are all but assured of the victory.

Without so much as a flinch, Williams sank both.

Brown said he was completely confident in his senior.

"On a scale of 1 to 10, I was at 10," said Brown. "My confidence level in Deon was max. He's more than capable of doing the job."

Asked what was on his mind when he went to the free-throw line, Williams said, "My mom (Monica Pledge). I was just thinking of something that would make me do my best."

Before Williams was sent to the line, the Blue Devils had only made 4 of 10 charities. Mountain Home sank 8 of its 10 free throws.

The Blue Devils also got 11 points from senior guard Kyalan Sykes while Williams had 4 and Akyrahn Hazley scored 3.

Gilbert scored 10 of his game-high 16 points in the first quarter. while Jones had 13.

West Memphis shot 45 percent on 19 of 42 shooting from the field while Mountain Home drained 16 of 40 for 40 percent. The Blue Devils outrebounded the Bombers 17-15.