The Red Devils are stuck on 38, which hasn’t been enough points for them to win a basketball game in more than six years.
It wasn’t enough to win the first game of the Chuck Miller Holiday Classic against host McDonough two weeks ago. It wasn’t enough to win last week against Westside-Macon. It wasn’t enough to beat Rutland here on Friday night.
The Red Devils fell 51-38 in a Region 4-AAA game in which it would’ve been easy to blame 11 straight missed free throws for the defeat. They made only 10 of 26 overall and, hard as it might be to believe, that actually was superior to the Hurricanes, who hardly set the world on fire at the line themselves, making only 6 of 21.
The last time the Red Devils won with such meager offense, they beat Strong Rock Christian 35-28 on Dec. 7, 2013. The Red Devils can’t reach their goals by relying on once-in-six-years results.
“I honestly don’t know what to do,” Jackson coach Virgil Amey said. “I thought our effort was better today.”
The Red Devils (6-11 overall, 3-4 in the region) got 12 points from Jye Roberts and 10 more from Cameron Edwards. But they missed Tyjae McCord, who isn’t much of a scorer, but has the toughness in the paint to rebound and get his team more shots. McCord has missed the last two weeks with a hyper-extended knee.
That means they often get one shot on a possession before taxing their defense for stops. They got only six points combined out of Jamal Collier and D’vonte Evans, both of whom have proven ability to produce double-digit scoring. Collier picked up a technical foul and spent much of the second half on the bench.
Meanwhile, Rutland’s Ryan Sharpe and Jamarco Hughes combined to make 13 of 21 shots, scoring 15 and 14 points, respectively.
The Red Devils showed few signs of life as the game wore on, so Amey used the occasion to get some experience for his younger players.
“The game was over for the most part, so there was no need to risk injury,” said Amey, loath to expose players he’ll have to count on if the Red Devils will have a shot at reaching the state tournament for the third consecutive season.
The Lady Devils have been breaths of fresh air when the boys have struggled. Coach Karisma Boykin knew early on, even before her girls made it to the opening tipoff, that would not be the case Friday against Rutland.
“I called it before the game,” Boykin said. “I felt like we just didn’t have the energy tonight.”
A three-point first quarter, an injury to point guard Kenyata Smith, and Gabbi Cartagena fouling out spelled a 60-40 defeat against a team the Lady Devils beat by 10 points in their first meeting.
The Lady Devils settled into the wrong rhythm from the beginning. The game plan was to drive to the basket and create scoring opportunities. Instead, they found themselves wildly over-reliant on 3-point shots. While Cartagena scored 21 points, little else went right for the Lady Devils, whose three-game winning streak ended on a night they could’ve earned a three-way tie for first place with Rutland and Pike County.
Instead, they fell to 11-6 overall, 4-3 in the region, tumbling into fourth place, behind Kendrick. Worse, Smith suffered a hyper-extended knee injury, and it’s not clear how much time she’ll miss because of it.
“Good teams go through this, so I think we’re going to be fine,” Boykin said. “It’s always good to have a game like this where you have to humble yourself and understand what’s at stake and still have a chip on our shoulder.”
Five region games remained as Jackson went into Tuesday’s games against Pike County. Jackson will play host to Central-Macon in another 4-AAA contest on Friday before visiting Monticello on Saturday.