Jackson County Splits Season-Opener With Community

by Rusty Ellis

The Jackson County Lady Blue Devils opened up their 2022-23 season with a tough 57-41 loss to Community on Thursday night.

Jackson County battled early, trailing only 16-11 after the first quarter. The Lady Devils then outscored Community 15-12 in the second frame to cut the deficit to just 28-26 at the half, ending a solid defensive first-half performance.

The third quarter is where things began to go wrong for Jackson County however, as they were outscored 17-6 to fall behind by 13 heading into the fourth quarter. There, the Viqueens continued to build on the lead and rolled to the final of 57-41 in Gainesboro.

Isabelle Beaty led the Lady Blue Devils with nine points, while Jacklyn Agee and Claire Williams each added seven of their own.

Head coach Jim Brown was pleased as a whole with what he saw from his team in the first half, though it was the lack of adjustments that led to the final result.

“We had a really good first half, we shot the ball really well,” Brown said. “They made some adjustments after halftime, and I don’t know that we ever adapted to them…I’m extremely proud of our effort. We’re going to be much better this year than we have been in the past.”

Brown says that was the primary message he gave his team after falling short against a team who made it to substate a season ago. He’s focused on constant growth and he believes this team can be much better than his last few teams have been in Gainesboro.

“It takes time and we do a lot of things that force them to make quick decisions,” Brown said. “Sometimes, you have to make some bad decisions before you learn how to make the good ones.”

The Blue Devils earned a split for Jackson County, as they took down Community 53-39 to open the season 1-0.

It didn’t get off to a great start for the Blue Devils, as they struggled early on to make a shot from the floor. Once Kendrick Brown got things going however, the offense started to make some headway and tied the visitors 13-13 at the end of the first quarter.

The Jackson County defense then took over in the second quarter, as they limited Community to just four points and took a 27-17 lead into the halftime break.

The second half saw the Blue Devils continue to extend the lead bit-by-bit, and once the final horn sounded, it was Jackson County who came away with a 53-39 victory.

Brown led the way with 24 points, while Hayden Stacy scored 13 for head coach Kevin Thomas.

“I thought it was an extremely good effort by our kids,” Thomas said. “We’ve only got two starters back from last year, and I thought our younger kids played well tonight…we handled their pressure really well, so I’m proud of them.”

Before the season, Thomas was insistent that for his team to be successful, they would have to buy in at the defensive end of the floor.

Especially in the second half, Thomas saw exactly what he needed on Thursday night.

“I thought the hustle was great,” Thomas said. “We rebounded the ball pretty well tonight. Community’s got some big, strong kids, but I thought we battled and held our own on the glass tonight. That was what I was most proud of.”

Jackson County will hit the road for their next game, as they will take on Van Buren in Spencer on Monday.