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Tigers shake off FCS, return to 8-A finals
Feb 18, 2013 4:15 pm
By Andy Reed
HARTSVILLE — It was four points instead of 40 this time, but Watertown's 45-41 victory over defending state champion Friendship Christian put the reigning District 8-A titlist back in the league championship game.
The Purple Tigers led most of the way, but couldn't maintain a 12-point lead from late in the second quarter as the Commanders slowed the tempo and forced a 39-39 tie on two free throws by Andrew Wood with 2:27 left.
But Nick Sackman, who tied for Tiger scoring honors with 11 points off the bench, got two on a one-hander in the post at 2:12 to put the Purple back in front to stay.
Guard Josiah Smith sealed Watertown's 25th triumph [against three losses] with a breakaway layup in the closing seconds, sending the Purple Tigers back to Tuesday's 7:30 p.m. title game against Gordonsville while Trousdale County will face Friendship [9-14] in the 6 p.m. third-place game.
Gordonsville edged host Trousdale County 63-61 on Austin Vaden's basket in the closing seconds of Friday's late game.
"They only took 30 shots against Pickett County, so I had a pretty good idea what they were going to do coming in," Watertown coach Matt Bradshaw said of the Commanders. "I knew what we needed to do. We did a good job early as far as busting it out on them and getting some steals and deflections. I thought our ball pressure would give them trouble.
"We have a 10-point lead with 3 1/2 minutes left in the first half and we go scoreless for three minutes and find ways to turn the ball over, don't take smart shots. We let them hang around... We didn't stretch it. We let them nick at it and nick at it. But I was proud of our guys. We found a way to win, and that's what you got to do in tournament time."
Watertown wore Friendship out 85-45 two weeks ago at WHS, a game in which Commander point guard Zac Anderson tried to play through an illness, but had to leave the gym early in the second half.
"I had Zac for most of the game, I didn't have Zac the last game," Commander coach Cleve Harris said. "And our bench is real short as far as legs. I got a whole lot of young freshmen, so I could play them the first game, and we turned the ball over more than 20-something times.
"So we decided the game plan is to take care of the ball, work the ball even if it takes two minutes to get a shot off. It worked for the most part, but we still made too many mistakes, especially down the stretch. We're still young, but we're getting so much better and we're starting to believe."
Friendship led 4-2 early on Anthony Williams' pullup jumper and 7-6 on Andrew Wood's three-point play off a putback. But Ethan Moss sank the first of his three first-half three-pointers to put the Purple Tigers in front.
Watertown reeled off a 12-0 run to open the 26-14 lead on Macieo Gaines' runner off the glass. But the Commanders scored six straight around halftime to climb within 27-23 on Williams' basket as the Tigers scored just a pair of third-quarter baskets.
The score was close enough for Harris to pull the ball out without worrying about the time.
"Watertown's got twice as many legs as we have. So if the clock is running, it's our friend," said Harris, who sat on the ball to end the first half of last year's state semifinal win over McEwen.
"I didn't think we played tonight," Bradshaw said. "The style of game kept the score low and where it was manageable for them. We'd like to get it out and run. But at the end of the day, if you want to slow it down, Watertown's got tough-enough kids, we'll grind it out and fight with you that way."
Gaines joined Sackman with 11 points for the Purple Tigers while Moss and Ty Jobe each knocked down nine, Smith and George Theragood two apiece and Ben Bain a free throw.
Allen Heaston sank 6 of 9 free throws in leading all scorers with 14 points for Friendship while Anderson, Williams and Wood each added eight, Colton Gaines two and Cody Walker a foul shot.
"They have three players who are nice players for their basketball team that give us matchup trouble," Bradshaw said. "Heaston gives anybody matchup trouble. Williams has grown and become a nice player and Anderson did a good job tonight of handling the basketball."
The win assured the Tigers will play all of their Region 4-A games on their floor. They'll host a first-round satellite game at 7 p.m. next Saturday before the rest of the tournament comes to Watertown, regardless of whether the Purple is playing or not. Friendship will have to travel for the region opener.
"That's the important part of these semifinal games is to get that home game and then play for a championship," Bradshaw said.
Though Friendship struggled early coming off a football championship and with only one senior, Heaston, and no juniors, the Commanders have played better lately.
"We're so young and you never know which team is going to show up for me," Harris said. "We're capable of beating any team in our district. Our problem is we're not very consistent because of our age.
"But who knows? It might be that next game."
Pesky Blue Devils go down swinging
GALLATIN — Station Camp's boys had beaten Lebanon by two points in a pair of regular-season games. Friday's District 9-AAA tournament opener played true to form until the host Bison pulled away in the final minute to a 52-42 triumph.
Lebanon trailed 44-42 with a minute left, but turned the ball over with a chance to tie. Station Camp connected on a pair of free throws and pulled away to drop the Blue Devils to a final 10-17 season.
LHS led 14-12 following the first quarter, 23-22 at halftime and 33-31 going into the fourth. DaShawn McMurry, who led all scorers with 22 points, hit one of his two three-pointers midway through the final stanza to give the Blue Devils their final two-point lead.
"We had some big turnovers late and they were able to hit some free throws," Lebanon coach Jim McDowell said at the end of his second season.
Trae Hatcher hit a pair of threes as he and post Kyle Anderton finished with 15 points apiece while forward Ryan Hardin added 11 for Station Camp.
"It was back and forth all game," McDowell said. "They have a pretty balanced [attack]. They have multiple guys who can shoot from the perimeter.
"Our guys fought hard all night. We couldn't get over that hump."
The Bison focused their defense on Zimmer Hunn, one of three Lebanon seniors playing their final game, holding him to eight points. That opened things up for junior McMurry, who sank 7 of 9 free throws. Freshman Yalen Reed scored six points, Julian Crutchfield three and KeShawn Abston two.
Zach Santana and Clayton Barron also suited up for Lebanon for the final time.
"We got a lot of guys coming back, but I hate it for our seniors not being able to go out a better way," McDowell said. "They're high-character guys."
Central shakes two-game slide, advances to 9-AAA semis against Mt. Juliet
GLADEVILLE — A week of regrouping following a two-game losing streak ended with Wilson Central dispatching visiting Gallatin out of the District 9-AAA tournament 62-46 Friday night.
The Wildcats led 17-11 following the first quarter, 27-20 at halftime and 42-36 going into the fourth as they climbed to 20-8 and advanced to tonight's 8:30 p.m. semifinal against Mt. Juliet at Station Camp.
"It was a good win for us," said Central coach Troy Bond, whose Wildcats also punched a ticket into the Region 5-AAA tournament. "The satellite game is always tough. You play bad and you're done. Our kids fought hard tonight and found a way to win. Everybody who played contributed and made some plays for us.
"We needed some practice time to build on some things we needed to work on and get better, and to build some confidence."
Junior Jacob Williams led Central with 19 points, passing UT-Martin freshman Dee Oldham as the Wildcats' career scoring leader with 1,071 points with over a full season to go.
Big man Ben Palmer powered in 17 points while guard Matthew Hall added 11. Point guard Jon Rosshirt was healthier and supplied seven points and nine assists for Central. Deante Miller finished with four points and Blake Huffman and Preston Reed two each.
Robert Clayton scored 16 points and Devonte Williams 15, including four three-pointers, for Gallatin.
Johnson leads Mt. Juliet to seventh straight win, 9-AAA semis
MT. JULIET — Reagan Johnson poured in 29 points Friday night to send Mt. Juliet to its seventh straight win and the District 9-AAA quarterfinals with a 65-60 win over Beech.
The Golden Bears, winners in nine of their last 10 games to bring their season mark to 17-10, bought themselves three more games, starting with tonight's 8:30 p.m. semifinal against Wilson Central at Station Camp, whose winner will host a first-round Region 5-AAA contest at 7 p.m. next Saturday.
But first, the Bears had to shake the pesky Buccaneers, who trailed 11-10 following the first quarter 27-22 at halftime and 38-34 going into the fourth as they ended an 8-18 season.
Thomas Sharpe scored 16 points and Nolan Chowbay 10 for Mt. Juliet. Hunter Gilbert finished with five, John Mark Bell three and James Womack two.
Parker Henry totaled 25 points and Sam Landrith 10 as each tossed in two three-pointers for Beech.