BRISTOL — Defending Class AAA state champion Memphis Craigmont has reigning state tournament MVP Sam Craft for a point guard. But Cherokee has a pretty good one in James Scales.
The 5-foot-10 senior made a 3-pointer off the dribble over Craft for a 45-41 lead with 21â„2 minutes left, stole the ball from Craft after Craft had stolen an inbounds pass with Craigmont trailing 49-47 with six seconds left and sealed Cherokee’s stunning 51-47 victory with a pair of free throws with 2.2 seconds left.
“The steal and the 3-point shot were huge,” Craigmont coach David Taylor said.
Ty Ryans led the Chiefs (11-2) with 20 points, including 5-of-10 shooting from 3-point range. Scales, whose quickness and ball-handling negated much of Craigmont’s pressure defense, 11 points, three assists and two steals.
Cherokee coache knew all about Craigmont’s talent and resume.
“But we knew we’ve got some good guards,” Parrott said. “We kind of leaned on them to handle the pressure. … It’s something that the kids will remember for a long time.”
Cherokee made 8 of 18 treys. It never trailed after Ryans banked in a 10-foot pull-up to tie the score at 38 with 41â„2 minutes left.
Forrest Looney scored down low for a 40-38 lead with 3:34 left and assisted Tanner Trent’s basket, which gave Cherokee a 42-40 lead with 3:03 remaining.
Darius Gipson’s tip tied the score at 45 with 1:57 left. Scales and Rayns each made 1 of 2 free throws to stretch the lead to 47-45 and Zach Elkins made a pair to make it 49-45 with 12.9 seconds left.
Craft went coast to coast for an uncontested lay-in with six seconds left, and nearly was the hero after stealing the ensuing inbounds. But that’s when Scales picked his pocket.
“When that clock hit zero,” Ryans said, “I had a relief come off my body. … We knew they were big inside. … I don’t know if I’ve ever played anybody as big or as talented.”
Craft led Craigmont with 10 points. Jordan Washington had nine points and four steals, and Gipson had eight points, ten rebounds and five blocks.
Elkins had eight points and 13 rebounds for Cherokee, which plays Charlotte Christian on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. Craigmont (8-5) plays Sullivan East on Thursday at 10:30 a.m.
Charlotte Christian 43
Sullivan East 42
Win No. 400 would’ve been especially memorable for Sullivan East coach John Dyer on Tuesday night, but his upset-minded Patriots couldn’t hang on for a victory in the first round of the Arby’s Classic.
Eric Lynch received an inbounds pass from Matthew Fisher-Davis underneath the basket and banked it in for the game-winner with 23 seconds remaining in Charlotte Christian’s 43-42 win against East.
The ends of both halves were the difference. The Patriots turned the ball over with 12.8 seconds remaining and failed to get a shot off in the final 7.4 seconds after Trey Phills had missed the front end of a one-and-one.
The end of the first half was equally frustrating for East. The Patriots (13-3) led 23-19 before Ben Richter popped out to the left corner and made a 3-pointer with 2.8 seconds left. Lynch then stole the inbounds pass and beat the buzzer for a lay-up and a 24-23 lead.
“The end of the first half was a killer,” Dyer said. “But we sure regrouped. They got … a five-point lead, I think, 39-34 at one time, and we held tough and strong.”
Charlotte Christian sputtered all night against East’s zone defense, which was active with good length on the perimeter.
Charlotte Christian junior guard Patrick Rooks, a Clemson commitment, finished 0 for 9 from the field and finished with two points. The Knights (8-1) were 16 of 45 from the field, including 3-of-14 shooting from 3-point range.
“We knew they would play zone,” Knights coach Shonn Brown said. “We worked on that a little bit in practice. We’re typically a team that can make shots, and we struggled to make shots, which is a credit to Sullivan East.
“But I also appreciate my guys keeping their composure, grinding it out in a halfcourt game and finding a way to make it happen in the end. You know, 16 of 45, I don’t know how many ballgames you can win shooting that from the field, and our team figured out a way to do it.”
Richter led Charlotte Christian with 14 points. Phills added eight.
Post Austin Gragg scored 15 points on 6-of-6 shooting from the field for Sullivan East. Chance Davis added 13 points.
“I thought Chance Davis was just tremendous,” Dyer said. “I thought Austin Gragg had the best game that he’s played. This is nothing but a building block on who we are and we’re gonna get nothing but better from this. …
“We made a lot of mistakes, but they’re athletic and they make you make a lot of mistakes. But we sure ran back and we sure played hard and we played tough the whole night. I’m so proud of my team.”
Mentor, Ohio 102
Hurley, Va. 29
Mentor picked up where it left off while finishing third in last year’s tournament. The Cardinals made a single-game record 18 3-pointers after making a tournament-record 42 3-pointers in 2010.
Justin Fritts made five 3-pointers en route to a game-high 25 points. Danny Wallack (19 points), Jeff Foreman (15 points) and Caleb Potter (nine points) made three treys apiece, and Connier Krizancic (10 points) made two.
Hurley (5-2) was led by Wesley Peck’s 14 points.
Mentor plays Greater Atlanta Christian on Thursday at 5 p.m.
Tabernacle Baptist 58
Keno Russell and Rashard Russell scored 19 and 14 points, respectively, and each made a pair of 3-pointers for Tabernacle Baptist.
Jordan Garland (11) also scored in double figures for the Falcons, who forced 23 turnovers. Tabernacle plays Christ School (Arden, N.C.), which features Science Hill transfers Jaylen Allen and Shannon Hale, tonight at 8:30 p.m.
Greeneville, which plays Sevier County today at 2:30 p.m., got 13 points from Jacob Gobble.
Greater Atlanta Christian 73
Gate City, Va. 63
Greater Atlanta Christian began the game on a 17-2 run, but had to pull away after the Blue Devils’ Austen Arnold (27 points) cut it to 62-60 with five minutes left.
Delano Spencer paced five double-digit scorers with 17 points for GAC (7-3), the defending Class 2A state champion in Georgia.
Posts Robert Armstrong and Andrew Lewis added 14 and 13 points, respectively, and Isiah Wilkins and Cole Hobbs scored 11 apiece for the Spartans.
Gate City (3-1) got 12 points and nine rebounds from Andy Arnold.
GAC plays Mentor on Thursday at 5 p.m. Gate City plays Hurley on Thursday at 9 a.m.
Urspring, Germany 46
Sevier County 38
Malo Valerien scored 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting and Kevin Bryant had nine points on 3-of-4 shooting for Urspring, which plays Fort Myers (Fla.) today at 4 p.m.
Devin Schmidt had 23 points and six rebounds for Sevier County.