MURPHYSBORO — Freshman guard Calvon Clemons tied his career best with 20 points to lead the Murphysboro Red Devils to a 69-51 win over West Frankfort in a River-to-River Ohio Division battle at Memorial Gymnasium Friday night.
“We kept our composure and didn’t turn the ball over much, and pretty much just played hard,” Clemons said.
Murphysboro snapped a two-game losing streak to improve to 18-9 on the season and 3-5 in the division. West Frankfort saw its five-game winning streak end, dropping to 18-9 and 5-3 in the Ohio with its first road loss of 2019. The Redbirds beat the Red Devils in their first meeting, 73-52, on January 8 at Max Morris Gymnasium.
“I thought this was as good as we’ve played all year,” said Murphysboro coach Daryl Murphy. “The thing I liked tonight was they were pressing us and we went and scored, which was huge for us. Back in November and December, we might have thrown that ball in the crowd or missed the layup or missed some key free throws, but tonight we were pretty solid.”
The Red Devils shot 25-of-44 from field, including 5-of-14 from beyond the arc, while the Redbirds had a terrible night, shooting making just 18-of-54, including just 4-of-18 from long distance.
“I thought we got good shots, but we struggled from the field,” said West Frankfort coach Evan Wyllie. “We got to the free throw line — we attempted 23, but we only made 11 of those. It was a struggle all the way around. They’ve gotten a lot better from the first time we played them. We shot the ball pretty well at our place, and this was kind of like the flipside. We’re playing well and we’ll be fine. Our 18 wins is the best in the last 12 years, and we’re hoping for more with two games left against Herrin and Massac County.”
The win gave Murphy 499 in his distinguished career, with a chance to reach the 500 milestone on the road against Harrisburg at 3:30 Saturday in the regular season finale.
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The Red Devils finished with four players in double digit scoring, with JaQuan Jackson and Jamarr McZeke finishing with 15 points each and Dezmond Clark with 10.
McZeke was a demon on the defensive end finishing with six blocked shots and a steal to go with eight rebounds. Clark pulled down five rebounds and had one steal, and Jackson finished with four boards and two steals.
Murphysboro led 28-21 at the half and extended its lead to nine points in the first four minutes of the third quarter, thanks in part to 3-pointers by Clemons and Jackson, who finished with three from beyond the arc.
West Frankfort cut the lead to seven with 46 seconds left, but Saviere Myers canned the Red Devils' fifth shot from beyond the arc with three seconds left to give Murphysboro a 10-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.
C.J. Johnson hit a three to open the fourth quarter to cut the lead to seven and Bryson Dorris did the same with 6:17 remaining to keep the margin at seven, but Murphysboro put the game away. making 8-of-9 from the line down the stretch.
Clemons scored nine points, including 5-of-5 free throws, and McZeke chipped in McZeke nine, including 3-of-3 from the line. For the game, the Red Devils made 14-of-18 foul shots.