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Title defense delayed for Jacksonville squads

Jacksonville basketball fans are having to wait just a little longer to see the Red Devils and Lady Red Devils get back on the court.

The Class 5A State Tournament was scheduled to begin Tuesday in Alma, but icy road conditions have pushed the tournament back.

The tournament was going to be delayed by one day, but with conditions still rough in several areas around the state, the tournament will begin today instead.

Jacksonville will now play their opening games on Friday, with the Red Devils playing at 2:30, and the Lady Red Devils playing the same day at 7 p.m.

As the outright champion of the 5A-Central, the Red Devils will be taking on the Hope Bobcats in the opening round. Hope is the No. 4 seed from the 5A-South.

The Bobcats finished 7-7 in conference action, while the Hot Springs Trojans ran through the South as the top seed. Watson Chapel finished second, while Camden was third in the South.

Clarksville and Forrest City are maybe the two toughest top seeds outside of Jacksonville, and are both on the top half of the bracket, while Jacksonville is on the bottom half. Hot Springs played in Jacksonville earlier this season, with the Red Devils pretty easily handling the Trojans.

If the higher seeds advance, Jacksonville could face a tough test in the second round against an athletic Morrilton Devil Dog squad.

“You want to be the top seed and win your conference, but that’s not an easy draw,” said Jacksonville coach Victor Joyner.

The Lady Red Devils finished the season as the No. 3 seed out of the Central, but were competing for the top spot down to the end of the season. They will take on the White Hall Lady Bulldogs in the opening round.

Hot Springs also had the top spot in the South for the girls, with the Lady Trojans running roughshod over the conference. The Lady Bulldogs finished ahead of Watson Chapel and Forrest City.

The Lady Red Devils should match up well with the Lady Bulldogs, but are in a tough spot on the bracket. They’re matched up across from either Alma or Paragould.

Alma, the No. 4 seed from the West, will be tough against anyone in their home arena. Paragould, the top seed from the East, is a perennial powerhouse.

A game against Paragould would be doubly tough as the Lady Rams would be seeking revenge for losing to Jacksonville in the state finals last season.

Second round games are scheduled for Monday, with the semifinals coming Tuesday.

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