Raiders invade West Memphis, come away with win
Blue Devils drop nail-biter to Nettleton
By Billy Woods
WM School District Nettleton seems to have the Blue Devils’ number — at least for the last three years in Lehr Arena.
On Friday night that number rolled No. 1, the numeral on the back of senior point guard Kevin Fulton, who stuck a game-winning dagger on the West Memphis boys to give his Raiders a 39-37 victory.
Fulton’s floater with 2.3 seconds left to play gave Nettleton its third straight win on West Memphis’ home floor.
“That’s never been done before has it?” asked an elated Nettleton head coach Mark McCord.
The Raiders (9-6 overall, 2-1 in the 5A-East Conference) led for nearly the whole game using a slowdown method on offense and another collapsing defense against Blue Devil star Chris Moore.
It’s a scheme that West Memphis head coach Marcus Brown expects to see the rest of the season.
“I’m surprised we didn’t see this earlier,” Brown said. “That’s how I would play us.”
Moore had his moments on the floor, scoring 14 points and grabbing 16 rebounds, but he had very little support from the perimeter players.
With the Raider defense sinking on West Memphis (12-4, 1-2) the Blue Devil shooters suffered through a 1 for 10 effort from the three-point arc.
“But we also missed a lot of layups, many of them coming off offensive rebounds,” Brown added.
The Blue Devils outrebounded Nettleton 36-23.
Although Brown’s club has man-handled Nettleton on its home floor, especially with a mercy-rule victory on the final day of the regular season last year, Friday night was a slog for the second-year head coach’s squad.
West Memphis hit just 3 of 11 field-goal attempts in the first quarter and found itself down 9-7. For the first half, the hosts connected on 5 of 15 from the floor.
“It’s the number of shots that was disappointing,” Brown added.
Meanwhile, with the 5-foot-8 Fulton at the controls, the Raiders were deliberate but efficient, turning it over only 6 times for the entire game.
To complicate matters for the Blue Devils, senior point guard Cavin Paige, matched up one-on-one with Fulton most of the night, picked up two quick fouls in the first quarter and sat out much of the first half.
Nettleton claimed leads of 20-16 at halftime and 30-25 at the end of three quarters.
The Blue Devils finally got their first lead since 4-0 when senior Jamal Macklin stole a ball near mid-court and his layup was ruled goal tending on Nettleton for a 37-36 West Memphis advantage with 55.4 seconds to play.
Nettleton milked the clock down to 11.5 seconds before a series of timeouts from both teams.
When play resumed, Paige deflected the inbounds pass deep into West Memphis’ end of the floor.
Fulton chased it down.
He crossed over Paige at mid-court and made his way toward the basket, where he lofted a floater from 10 feet that found nothing but net with 2.3 seconds to play.
“Fulton was the only option for us,” McCord said “That was no secret.”
West Memphis’ final attempt to win was thwarted when Nettleton’s Jarquauvious Cain picked off the inbounds pass at mid-court and was fouled.
Cain hit 1 of 2 from the free-throw line for the final score.
The Blue Devils, who play at Jonesboro Tuesday night, also got 10 points from Macklin while Corliss Brewer added 8 points.
Fulton and Cain each scored 9 to lead Nettleton while Nathan Anderson hit for 7.
West Memphis’ Jamal Macklin (4) scores inside on Nettleton.
Photo by Billy Woods