David Crockett’s super sophomores led the way in the Pioneers’ 86-68 win over Sullivan East in the late semifinal of the 24th annual Hardee’s Classic basketball tournament.
Sophomore forward Dustin Day scored 32 points and sophomore guard Patrick Good tallied 23 points as Crockett improved to 6-1 on the season.
“I couldn’t have done it without my teammates,” Day said. “They really helped me get open and passed me the ball. Patrick is an amazing player. He comes in early and works so hard. I just posted up hard and I knew my teammates would get me the ball.”
Good, who also had six assists and five steals, felt the tone was set on the other end of the floor.
“We started off strong defensively,” Good said. “We boxed out, rebounded, ran the floor and got back. We knocked down some shots which we hadn’t done since the start of the season. That turned us and got our energy going.”
The Pioneers will meet Unicoi County in a battle of three-time Hardee’s champions in tonight’s title game. The Blue Devils held off a rally by Sullivan South for a 55-50 victory in the first semifinal.
The combination of Good at the guard position and the Pioneers’ size advantage was too much for the Patriots (4-2) in the nightcap. Holding a 46-32 halftime lead, Crockett scored the first eight points of the second half to put the game away. They led 71-51 at the end of three quarters and maintained a double-digit lead the rest of the way.
Crockett head coach John Good said the determination of his talented sophomore duo can be seen through their actions.
“Both of them work hard on their games and they want to be good,” Coach Good said. “They’re young, have energy and they have a will to be successful. It shows on the floor.”
Besides the lead duo, Crockett also got nine points from Tyler Page and eight apiece from Brendan Coleman and Isaac Barkley.
Freshman point guard Gavin Grubb had 24 points to lead Sullivan East, while Anthony Vanhoy finished with 16 points.
Unicoi County 55
Sullivan South 50
The Blue Devils (6-0) jumped out to a huge lead early and held on late in a battle of teams predicted to compete for the Three Rivers Conference championship.
Unicoi County took a 21-3 lead after one quarter, and was up 29-6 before the Rebels (2-3) scored five points near the end of the half.
The margin remained in double figures throughout the third quarter before the Rebels rallied to cut the lead to 44-35 with 5:30 left. They cut it to three points with less than two minutes to go before Ethan Rice made a pair of free throws for the final score.
“Thank goodness for the first 12 minutes,” Unicoi County head coach John English said after his team won despite 28 turnovers. “It seemed like we were in good shape, but we knew South was not going to go away. They were down by 19 to Boone the other night.
“I don’t know if kids get a little comfortable with that kind of lead, but we were preaching against it. Momentum in basketball is a hard thing to turn. Early we had it, but once it seems to go the other way, it’s hard to get back.”
Connor Simpson helped the Devils keep enough of an advantage with a game-high 19 points, a dozen of them in the second half.
“He got some key buckets to keep them at bay a little in the fourth,” English said. “He’s been doing that all year for us. He provides some good leadership on the floor and comes through in some big situations.”
Simpson also led the Blue Devils with 11 rebounds, while Rice ended with 13 points.
“In the second half, we went cold, we weren’t hitting the boards and we weren’t playing good defense,” Simpson said. “They started turning up the pressure and we turned the ball over. Towards the end, we got our composure and ended up coming out with a win.”
Evan Headrick spearheaded the South comeback with 14 points, all in the second half. Will Blair added 10 second-half points and 13 overall in the loss.
Daniel Boone 63
Dillon Reppart tallied 19 points and Ty Jones ended with 16 points to lead the Trailblazers (4-3) over the Greene Devils (1-4).
Three Boone seniors ended in double figures as Aaron Shelton scored 10 points.
“We talked about it’s in their hands,” Boone head coach Ryan Arnold said. “They get one chance and before you know it, baseballs will be hitting outside and it will be over. I told them before halftime we’re writing a book and we’re the authors. We’ve got to decide what’s going to happen to us. I challenged the seniors because they’ve been in these battles before. They’ve got to be the leaders of these battles.”
Greeneville scored the first basket of the game, but Boone responded with the next nine points and led the rest of the first half.
Up 17-13 at the end of one quarter, Boone led by as many as 11 points in the second quarter. The Greene Devils finished with the final six points of the quarter to trail 34-29 at halftime.
They continued the run early in the third quarter to take a 35-34 lead. Down 38-36, Boone regained control with a 14-3 run. The ’Blazers led 50-42 heading into the final quarter, and held a 5-10 point lead the rest of the way.
“I think it was a quality win,” Arnold said. “We still have a lot of improvement, but I thought we did a little better down the stretch getting the shots we wanted as opposed to taking bad shots.”
The Chiefs (3-4) scored the first 11 points of the game and never looked back in their win over the Rangers (4-5).
Brandon Guinn ended Unaka’s scoring drought before the Chiefs pushed the lead out to as many as 21 points in the second quarter.
Tanner Trent finished with 21 points and Keaton Bailiff had 19 for Cherokee which maintained a lead of 14 or more throughout the second half. Eli Rasnick scored 10 points and Alex Baltaji added nine to lead Unaka.