West Memphis High School Athletics


Surging Blue Devils claim crucial win at Jonesboro


WM School District | 2/18/2020

PHOTO CREDIT: West Memphis High School Athletics

The West Memphis Blue Devils took a huge step toward clinching the 5A-East Conference championship here on Tuesday night.

Senior forward Chris Moore scored 13 points and secured a game-high 17 rebounds to lead the Blue Devils to a 48-45 victory over Jonesboro.

The win gives the Blue Devils (20-4 overall, 10-1 in the conference) a two-game lead with three to play. Marion (8-3 in league play) defeated Mountain Home Tuesday night and is all alone in second place. The loss moved Jonesboro into a tie for third place with Greene County Tech.

West Memphis now has games left at home against Paragould on Friday night, a Feb. 25 road date at Tech and the regular-season finale at home against Mountain Home on Feb. 28.

Head coach Marcus Brown isn't too concerned about the remaining schedule. He's still savoring Tuesday night's conquest at Jonesboro.

"We came here, fought through some adversity and got a big win here," said a jubilant Brown. "Big props to my kids. I'm super proud of them."

The adversity referred to by Brown came in the fourth quarter when the Blue Devils nearly blew a 12-point lead.

A three-pointer by senior guard Kyalan Sykes from the corner with 6:54 to play in the game gave West Memphis a 42-30 lead.

But no 12-point lead with that much time remaining is ever safe at Barry Pruitt Hurricane Gymnasium.

Junior guard Kelyn McBride and sophomore Kavon Pointer single-handedly brought the hosts back and it took some fancy footwork by the Blue Devils in the final minute to preserve the win.

"I thought we would have handled (the 12-point lead) better," Brown admitted. "We have to execute better. We did not run anything press-break-wise by attacking the rim."

McBride swished two free throws with 17 seconds left to slice the West Memphis lead to 48-45. Then on the inbounds pass, Blue Devil junior guard Jordan Mitchell was called for a charge before the ball was even in play.

The player-control foul gave the Hurricane (14-9, 7-4) the ball in their frontcourt.

McBride misfired on a banked two-point attempt and Moore claimed his 17th rebound on the night. He was fouled immediately.

After missing the front end of the one-and-one, it gave the Blue Devils a 5-for-12 night from the charity stripe. But more importantly it gave Jonesboro another chance.

However, Brown screamed for Moore to foul Jonesboro's Jesse Washington near midcourt with 1.4 seconds to play.

Washington purposely missed his free throw and the long carom was very nearly secured by McBride. However, Sykes swooped in at the last second to grab possession as the clock ran out.

The Blue Devils won the game with several buckets in transition, a 27-18 advantage on the boards, a more efficient three-point effort than Jonesboro (3-for-6 for West Memphis to Jonesboro's 4-for-15) and by outshooting the Hurricane overall.

The Blue Devils made 20 of their 42 shots from the floor for 48 percent while JHS was 15 of 40 for 38 percent.

"When our defense was as good as it was tonight it creates points in transition," said Brown. "If you're able to get (Jonesboro) back on their heels you can beat them down court. Overall, we did a really good job with that tonight."

Jonesboro led 11-9 after one quarter, but the Blue Devils took a 26-24 lead into the lockers at halftime.

Jonesboro head coach Wes Swift said his team lost the game with a subpar third quarter.

West Memphis scored the final 10 points of the stanza to take a 39-28 lead into the fourth quarter.

"We're just letting teams space too far against us," said Swift. "Part of it was (West Memphis') defense, forcing us into some bad shots. We made a couple of turnovers and it turned into fast-break buckets for them."

Leading by just one point at 44-43 inside a minute to play and the Blue Devils trying to salt the clock, Mitchell sank a clutch pull-up mid-range jumper for a 46-43 lead. About 27 seconds later, Akyrahn Hazley got a break-away dunk for the 48-43 lead.

Sykes and senior Immanuel Hoard, back from sick bay last Friday night, contributed 10 points to the winning cause while Mitchell had 3 points and 5 rebounds.

Jonesboro got 16 points from McBride, 15 from Pointer and 12 from Washington.