E.A. Sports Today


Barksdale shoots Jacksonville to early lead on Alexandria, shoots down Valley Cubs’ third-quarter rally in 65-55 victory. Improving Jacksonville girls dial up defense for victory.

Cover photo: Jacksonville’s Devin Barksdale fires one of his six 3-pointers against Alexandria on Monday at Jacksonville. (Photo by Joe Medley)

Monday scoreboard

Jacksonville 65, Alexandria 55
Pleasant Valley 47, Woodland 35
Shiloh (Ga.) 55, Oxford 49
Handley 68, Talladega 32
Jacksonville 40, Alexandria 21
Handley 60, Talladega 58
Central-Clay 66, Horseshoe Bend 64
Lincoln 25, Gaston 24
Southside 53, Douglas 20

By Joe Medley
East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE — Two-time defending Class 4A champion Jacksonville has a new dynamic in 2023-24, but one constant from two state-title teams remains.

On Monday, Devin Barksdale showed he’s become the guy after seeing so many guys graduate from around him.

Barksdale scored a game-high 26 points, including back-to-back 3-pointers to thwart an Alexandria rally late in the third quarter, and Jacksonville beat its Alexandria-Jacksonville Road rival 65-55 on Riley Green Court.

It’s the first of two scheduled games between Jacksonville (8-3) and Alexandria (7-3). They play Feb. 1 at Alexandria.

By that point, Barksdale will be deep into his second season as Jacksonville’s starting point guard, trying to lead the Golden Eagles to a third consecutive state title. The junior was a key player off the bench on Jacksonville’s 2022 state-title team.

“He’s an unbelievable player,” second-year Jacksonville coach Tres Buzan said. “He can get his own shot whenever he wants it. He’s a good teammate, good leader.

“When he’s clicking, we’re clicking.”

Click, click, click, click.

Just like that, Barksdale hit four 3-pointers as Jacksonville built a 20-8 lead by first quarter’s end.

Jacksonville led 33-16 at halftime, and Barksdale had matched Alexandria’s point total with nearly half of Jacksonville’s points.

Jacksonville’s Devin Barksdale makes a cross-court pass against Alexandria on Monday at Jacksonville. (Photo by Joe Medley)

Before this season, Barksdale had thousand-plus-point scorers John Broom, Caden and Kam Johnson around him. Add center Cade Phillips in 2022.

This season, Barksdale is the clear top option when the Golden Eagles need a big shot, and that moment came late in the third quarter. Drake Davis banked in a 3-pointer from the left corner, and Quendavion McDowell added three of his Alexandria-best 22 points on a putback and free throw to trim Alexandria’s lead to 48-42 at 1:03.

Guess who took Jacksonville’s next two shots.

“I had a feeling,” he said. “I knew I was going to take those two shots, and I had a lot of confidence to hit them.”

He hit a three to make it 51-42, and Jacksonville got the ball back with 30 seconds left in the quarter. Barksdale dribbled the clock down for a last-shot scenario, dribbled Monqrea Morris into center Sean Herbert’s high screen then stopped and popped a step-back three to make it 54-42 going into the fourth quarter.

It was the big answer to Alexandria’s 26-point third quarter, and Barksdale felt it coming. So did his teammates.

“My teammates told me before the game, ‘You’re fixing to go off,’” he said. “They gave me confidence, and I appreciate them for that, and I have confidence in myself.”

Jacksonville’s Jaquan Ervin added 13 points with a 3-pointer.

Besides McDowell’s big game, Alexandria got 15 points from Jaylen Henderson and seven apiece from Morris and Davis.

Though the Valley Cubs made their third-quarter run, they struggled, a team that’s scored 92 and 82 points in recent games struggled to overcome a 16-point first half.

“We just didn’t come out ready to play, and that was my fault,” Alexandria coach Will Ginn said. “For whatever reason, we just weren’t really prepared, or physically prepared, for the type of game it was.

“I knew it was going to be a physical game, and it’s just like, we didn’t come out ready to play.”

The former Jacksonville State University guard offered praise for Barksdale, the biggest single reason why the Valley Cubs’ rally hit a wall.

“He’s a heck of a player,” Ginn said. “I knew that coming in, but what makes him so tough is that he shoots the ball so well. That opens up everything for him.”

As for the latest Jacksonville team around Barksdale, it’s hard to get a read. The Golden Eagles football contingent came in late, and recent bouts with seasonal illness sidelined players like Herbert.

“We’re very versatile,” Barksdale said. “Everybody has their own role. We’ve got, like, five or six guys that are short, but they’re speedy, and then we’ve got the two bigs, Sean and Ben (Pridgen), and M.J. (Wood), and they’re all aggressive, working down low.

“It was our first game back, and we’re still learning our roles, but we’re coming into it pretty good.”

Jacksonville’s Neveah Nicholson (13) and Mya Swain (3) challenge a drive by Alexandria’s Charlee Parris as Jacksonville’s Alexis Phillips (right), Halaina Lozano (2) and DeAsia Prothro (12) and Alexandria’s Makayla Brewster trail Monday at Jacksonville. (Photo by Joe Medley)


JACKSONVILLE 40, ALEXANDRIA 21: Halaina Lozano hit two 3-pointers en route to a team-high 10 points, and Jacksonville answered their head coach’s call to emphasize defense.

“We’ve been pretty good, defensively, but I challenged them tonight,” Jacksonville coach Corey Mize said. “Last game against White Plains, I didn’t feel like we had our best defensive effort, and so I challenged them tonight, ‘This needs to be the best that you all have done,’ to bounce back from White Plains.

“I thought they answered the bell.”

Jacksonville also got eight points from DeAsia Prothro and six on two 3-pointers from Mya Swain while improving to 4-8. They started the season 0-4 against a schedule that included two games against Springville, one each against Talladega and Plainview.

The Golden Eagles reached 1-7 before winning three of the next four.

“Those tough games that we played made us better,” Phillips said. “Those losses don’t define us. It just keeps us going.

“It makes us better, because now we’re playing teams that our skill level is making is look good.”

Allyssa Hunt led Alexandria (5-5) with six points. The Valley Cubs scored 39, 20 and 21 points in their past three games.

“We haven’t scored the ball well in about three games now, and I think our confidence is hurting a little bit,” Alexandria coach Craig Kiker said. “We just need some practice time. …

“I thought we defended really well. We played as good of defense as we can play. We just couldn’t score the ball.” 

Jacksonville’s Halaina Lozano shoots a 3-pointer on the way to scoring 10 points against Alexandria on Monday at Jacksonville. (Photo by Joe Medley)

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