Wildcats’ ‘D’ shuts down Jacksonville
by Brandon Miller
Nov 27, 2012 | 3922 views |  0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
JACKSONVILLE — White Plains coach Chris Randall has a simple philosophy for his players: If you’re not going to play defense, you’re not going to play.

“It’s the way I was raised,” he said. “It’s the way coach Larry Skinner taught me. We think your effort on the defensive end measures how much you care about winning and losing and how unselfish you are. We feel like it’s the most important thing we do.”

As has been the case this season, Randall’s Wildcats played dominate defense on their way to becoming 4-0, defeating Jacksonville on Tuesday night, 52-36.

“What I’m really proud of is the way we defended after the first quarter,” Randall said. “We really settled in and I thought our guards did a great job of controlling their dribble penetration. We contested everything. Our effort on the defensive end was able to pull us through.”

Although White Plains has held all four of its opponents in the 30s this season, the strong defense didn’t start early, as the Golden Eagles (1-3) held the lead at the end of the first quarter.

Coming off a 68-67 win over Saks on Monday in which Jacksonville trailed by 14 with four minutes left, the Golden Eagles went on an early run behind the shooting of Des Curry. Jacksonville led 16-11 when the buzzer sounded at the end of the first quarter.

However, it was short-lived. After missing two free throws with a 16-13 lead, things began to fall apart for the Golden Eagles.

“Everybody makes a run and if you can stop a run, you’re doing really good,” Jacksonville coach Anthony Kingston said. “They stopped our run, then went on one of their own. So all the credit goes to them, but we just didn’t play four quarters.”

White Plains’ run lasted the entire second quarter. Jaylen Hill led the way, scoring 10 of the Wildcats’ 15 points, to take a 26-19 lead into halftime.

“I told them in pregame how good Jaylen was,” Kingston said. “They know now.”

After Jacksonville’s Lavontae Lacount’s three pointer was the only shot to fall for the home team in the second quarter, the Wildcats defense didn’t let up much the remainder of the game.

The Golden Eagles scored a mere five points in the third quarter and 12 in the fourth.

“It was their defensive pressure,” Kingston explained. “We didn’t utilize our offense to our strengths and we tried to do a lot of one-on-one stuff, and that’s not our strength. Their defense dictated everything that we did. We just didn’t execute offensively”

Taking the first step toward improving from the game, Kingston said he asked his players in the locker room after the loss what the team’s strengths and weaknesses are.

“A lot of them said, ‘Nothing tonight, coach,’” he said. “I said I agreed with them somewhat, but that they can’t be too hard on themselves. We’ve got to come back tomorrow and work.”

One of the lone bright spots for Jacksonville came from Curry, who scored a team-leading 18 points.

“Des played OK but tried to do a little too much,” Kingston said. “But he’s going to have to do a lot for us. But he has to know when to be aggressive and when to defer. He’s still accepting and learning that role for us.”

As for Hill, he finished the game with 32 points.

“He doesn’t score 32 if Dylan (Randall) and Jonathon (Bradshaw) don’t do a good job of getting the ball inside,” Randall said. “Jaylen was patient and attacked, attacked the basket hard and finished. That’s what we expect him to do, that’s not surprising, he’s scored more than that before.”

White Plains next game is at home against Ohatchee on Friday. The Golden Eagles travel next to Spring Garden on Saturday.

Sports Writer Brandon Miller: 256-235-3575. On Twitter @bmiller_star.