E.A. Sports Today

Eagles have one

An edge, that is; Jacksonville puts all the elements of its team motto together to rally past Weaver, matches win total of a year ago

Sophomore Donovan McCain (32) scored seven of the last 11 points in Jacksonville’s fourth-quarter comeback against Weaver. Here, he’s splitting Dalton Hamby (12) and Robert Gaines in the first half. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

WEAVER – So far, it has never failed.

On each of the two nights the Jacksonville basketball team has worn its new warmup shirts in the pregame shoot-around, somebody invariably walks behind the Golden Eagles’ bench and asks anyone who’s around what the “E.D.G.E.” on the backs of their shirts stands for.

It’s a sharp acronym that conjures all kinds of definition. The manager of the Jacksonville girls basketball team came up with “Eagles Dominate Games Everyday.” That’s a nice one, but actually it’s the team’s motto for the season and, officially, stands for (E) Execution, (D) Determination, (G) Grit, (E) Energy.

The Golden Eagles had some kind of edge going for them Tuesday night as all the elements were in play. They rallied from an 11-point deficit early in the third quarter and outscored Weaver 11-3 down the stretch to score a 76-71 victory and spoil the Bearcats’ season opener.

To see a photo gallery from the doubleheader, visit www.bjfranklin.smugmug.com

They broke out the shirts for the first time Monday night and beat Faith Christian. With Tuesday’s win, the Golden Eagles (3-1) have matched their victory total from all of last season (3-18).

“I thought we played with that edge,” Jacksonville coach Cordell Hunt said. “That’s been our motto since we ended last season, which didn’t go very well for us. We adopted that motto ‘edge’ and we’re playing with it, not just the execution and determination and grit and energy, but we’re playing with that everybody-wants-to-fight edge. We want to do better than we did last year.

“I was disappointed in last season and they were, too. They were determined to work their tails off to be better.”

Jacksonville trailed 49-38 with five minutes left in the third quarter, but then started doing things to get back in the game. Ron Wiggins’ driving layup finally gave the Golden Eagles the lead with 1:38 left in the quarter and they carried a 59-57 edge into the fourth quarter.

Weaver scored the first eight points of the fourth – the first six on consecutive three-point plays by London Knight — to lead by six with 6:30 to play, but the Golden Eagles outscored their hosts 11-3 over the final four minutes to pull out the victory.

“I thought today was a total team effort,” Hunt said. “There were some guys who came off the bench and gave us great minutes. I think the big key for us this year is our depth. We honestly have 10-11 guys who can come off and give us minutes. Our depth is really good and I think that’s what’s going to win us some more games this year.”

While all of the Golden Eagles had a hand in the comeback, most of the damage down the stretch was inflicted by Macey Carr, DeAndre McCain and Donovan McCain. With the game in the balance on virtually every trip down the floor, they combined for the Golden Eagles’ final 15 points with the McCain cousins scoring the last 11.

“We had to come together as a team and get it under control and push ourselves to do things we haven’t done before,” DeAndre McCain said. “We’ve been waiting for this game all week. We knew we had to come out with edge this week.”

“Our whole team got after it very well,” Donovan McCain said. “We did the little things that we were supposed to do to win this game. It was a very physical game, but we just had it in our mind to comeback. We were confident we could come back.”

It was a three-point game with 34 seconds left when the Bearcats missed two shots from directly under the basket that could have gotten them closer. Donovan McCain then hit a bucket for Jacksonville at the other end to basically seal the victory.

“We’ve just got to play smarter,” Weaver coach Daryl Hamby said.

DeAndre McCain led Jacksonville with 20 points. Donovan McCain and Carr — newcomers from Clay Central and White Plains, respectively — each scored 16.

The Bearcats placed four scorers in double figures. Almadric Elston led them with 18 points and nine rebounds.

“I think it’s always good beat a team as good as Weaver … and hear how excited the kids are about the win,” Hunt said. “They still have that passion. That edge, man, we’ve just got to have it. It’s like a sword.”


Jacksonville’s Macey Carr (2) tries to get between Weaver’s Amardric Elston and Robert Gaines (4) on his way to the basket. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

Jacksonville 76, Weaver 71
DeAndre McCain 7-9 5-5 20, Donovan McCain 6-8 4-9 16, Macey Carr 7-15 2-3 16, Ron Wiggins 3-6 0-0 6, Alex Davis 2-5 0-0 4, DeDarien Savage 2-5 0-0 4, DeMarien Stewart 1-1 2-4 4, Cade Landers 2-5 0-0 4, Alex Gilbert 1-2 0-0 2, Carter Landers 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 31-56 13-21 76.

WEAVER (0-1) – Amardric Elston 8-12 2-4 18, London Knight 6-9 3-5 15, Robert Gaines 6-15 2-5 14, Shamar Spinks 5-7 1-2 12, Alex Perry 2-4 0-0 6, Dalton Hamby 2-2 0-0 4, Gary Wallace 1-2 0-0 2, Taylor Deck 0-0 0-2 0, Nick Torres 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 30-51 8-18 71.

Jacksonville 17 17 25 17 — 76
Weaver 23 17 17 14 — 71

3-point goals: Jacksonville 1-4 (De. McCain 1-2, Carr 0-2); Weaver 3-9 (Knight 0-1, Gaines 0-2, Spinks 1-1, Perry 2-4, Wallace 0-1). Rebounds: Jacksonville 33 (Do. McCain 8, Carr 6); Weaver 23 (Elston 9, Hamby 5). Total fouls: Jacksonville 15, Weaver 18. Officials: Boyd, Watson, Howell.

Jacksonville 54, Weaver 41
Kyra Williams 10-18 1-3 21, Aniya Jefferson 4-8 2-4 10, Patience Carr 4-6 0-0 8, Essence Hutchinson 3-7 0-0 7, Brenna Stone 2-4 0-2 4, Kayla Broom 1-3 0-0 2, TiAsia Williams 1-5 0-1 2, Maddie Hall 0-2 0-0 0, Destoni Edwards 0-2 0-0 0, Malijah Goggins 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-55 3-10 54.

WEAVER – Rayne Beck 5-13 4-10 14, Emily Reed 4-9 0-0 9, Mariah Thompson 4-6 0-0 8, Caleigh Cortez 2-10 2-2 6, Amira Carter 2-5 0-2 4, Abby Gaines 0-2 0-1 0, Kylee Jordan 0-0 0-0 0, Marley Tucker 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 17-45 6-15 41

Jacksonville 16 16 12 10 — 54
Weaver 8 6 8 19 — 41

3-point goals: Jacksonville 1-11 (K. Williams 0-4, Hutchinson 1-3, T. Williams 0-2, Edwards 0-2); Weaver 1-8 (Reed 1-3, Thompson 0-1, Cortez 0-2, Gaines 0-2). Rebounds: Jacksonville 42 (Stone 9, Broom 8); Weaver 25 (Beck 8, Thompson 6). Total fouls: Jacksonville 14, Weaver 13. Officials: Phillips, Boyd, Jackson.

Kyra Williams (3) had another big game for the Jacksonville girls. She scored a game-high 21 points, grabbed five rebounds and had four steals. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

Rayne Beck played a courageous game for Weaver. Playing with an extremely sore right shoulder, she scored a team-high 14 points, grabbed eight rebounds and had two steals. She’s hoping doctors allow her to play through the basketball season. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

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