David Crockett had no answer for the man in the middle.
Chase Branscomb, Tennessee High’s 6-foot-8 senior center, proved to be a tough matchup for the Pioneers. He scored a game-high 19 points to lead the Vikings to a 61-48 road win over David Crockett on Friday night.
Coming up with two crucial baskets early in the fourth quarter, Branscomb helped turn a four-point Tennessee High advantage into a double-digit lead.
“We felt like we had an advantage in the post if we could get it down there,” Tennessee High head coach Roby Witcher said. “That’s what we were worried about because they’re very good with the three-quarter and full-court pressure. But, we had a good game plan against that. We were strong with the basketball against some of the best pressure we’ll see in the half-court.”
The Vikings improved to 2-1 in the Big Seven Conference with the win and 7-1 overall. The Pioneers fell to 3-2 and 9-4.
“He’s a big body. We don’t have anyone to guard him and they get it inside to him,” Crockett head coach John Good said about Branscomb. “When he gets it there, he scores anytime he wants to. We knew it was coming, so early in the game we were putting pressure on their guards, but late in the game, not so much.”
On the defensive end, the Vikings keyed on slowing down Crockett’s leading scorer Patrick Good. Good still ended with 14 points to lead the Pioneers, while Luke Hopson totaled 10 points. Dustin Day and Isaac Barkley each finished with eight points.
It wasn’t enough, however, as the Pioneers struggled from the perimeter, hitting just three shots behind the 3-point line.
“Shot selection wasn’t good and when they were playing zone, and we were not hitting shots, we started getting tighter and tighter and tighter,” Coach Good said. “That’s our Achilles heel. We just can’t shoot the basketball very well right now.”
After an early Crockett lead, Tennessee High pulled ahead14-13 on back-to-back buckets by Branscomb. Hopson hit a jumper from the free-throw line before the end of the first quarter to put the Pioneers back in front, 15-14, at the end of one quarter.
The teams were nip-and-tuck throughout the second quarter. Hopson drained a late 3-pointer near end of the second quarter to give Crockett a 26-24 lead at the half.
The Pioneers pushed the lead out to eight points to start the third quarter, only to see Tennessee High go on a 15-3 run to take a 41-37 lead into the final period.
The combination of Branscomb and the Vikings’ depth took over in the fourth quarter. Playing without senior forward Adam Mitchell who is participating in an all-star football game this weekend, Tennessee High got eight inside points from Stephen Welch to go along with guards Caleb Easterling and Zak Kitzmiller scoring 13 and 10 points, respectively.
Witcher was smiling afterwards, talking about getting a quality road win early in the conference season.
“Coach Good works those kids hard and that’s a real good Crockett team,” Witcher said. “To beat them on the road, I feel pretty good about this one.”
Tennessee High (girls) 73
David Crockett 52
Sheena Johnson and Kelsey Stoops combined for 48 points to lead the Lady Vikings to their first win of the season.
Tennessee High (1-2, 1-5) led just17-13 late in the first quarter before scoring 13 unanswered points in a 19-2 run.
Johnson had 16 of the Lady Vikings’ first 22 points and ended with 24 overall. Stoops matched her total, also with 24 points.
“The kids played hard,” Tennessee High head coach Barry Wade said. “That’s what we’re proud of. We changed the way we did some things and we’re going to keep doing that to keep our aggressiveness up.”
Crockett (1-4, 3-9) scored the last seven points of the second quarter to trail 43-31 at the half. The Lady Pioneers pulled within eight points (49-41) on a 3-point goal by Kaley Persinger, but that was as close as they were able to get.
Heather Scalf paced Crockett with 20 points, and Brooke Ervin also finished in double digits with 10 points. Kaylie Foster added eight points and Chelsea Lyninger grabbed a team-best six rebounds.
While not happy with the end result, Crockett coach Will Conley was pleased with his team’s effort.
“When I came into the locker room, I told them that they played hard,” Conley said. “They really responded to what I’m trying to do. Now, we have to play smart. If we can put the two together, we will be fine.”