MURFREESBORO — Cloudland will seek to play fast and faster against McEwen.
“They are well-coached and very methodical running their offense,” said Highlanders’ head coach Brandon Carpenter, whose team will play the mid-west Tennessee school today in the Class A state basketball quarterfinals. “I think maybe we can disrupt those things. If we make them play our game and get things going up and down, it could play in our favor.”
Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. (EDT) at Murphy Center. McEwen is 30-1 on the season while Cloudland is 22-12.
The Highlanders are seeking their first state tournament win since 1968, and are making their fifth appearance in seven years.
“We’ve fallen short a time or two, but it’s a learning process,” said Carpenter. “Science Hill fell short a time or two before they got into the championship game. That’s what we hope to do.”
Leading the way for the Warriors are cousins Garrett Mullinicks (5-10, guard) and Patrick Mullinicks (6-3 post). They combined for 48 points in the region final win over Middle Tennessee Christian with Garrett totaling 26.
“Both kids are very solid,” said Carpenter. “(Garrett) is a very outstanding point guard. The other kid plays post, but will step out and shoot it well.”
Garrett averages 20 points per game while Patrick totals 15 points and eight rebounds a contest. Both went over the 1,000-point mark for their careers in January.
Blaine Hooper is a 6-4 post who averages 10 points per game.
“They play three or four big kids inside, and all but one step outside and play on the perimeter,” said Carpenter. “We have to make sure we don’t lose those kids.”
Cloudland counters with Dylan McClellan (17 points, 7 rebounds per game in the regular season), Zac Potter (16 points, 3.5 steals per game), and region most valuable player Taylor Whitehead (10 points, nine rebounds per game).
Carpenter said he expects state tournament experience — six players were on the floor last year in Murfreesboro — to benefit his team.
“I do think it’s a big advantage having been there as coaches and players,” said Carpenter. “There are a lot of distractions behind the scenes, and how you handle that affects the game.”
Rebounding will likely be a deciding factor, said Carpenter.
“Rebounding is always the key for us because we are small,” he said. “We will have to use our quickness on defense, and make sure we block out. If we handle our own on the boards, we’ve got a good shot.”
Notes: Cloudland’s lone win at the state came in the round of 16 against Memphis Frayser in 1968. The Highlanders lost to Nashville Stratford in the quarterfinals. …
Union County (2006), Culleoka (2007), Tennessee Temple (2009) and Middleton (2011) turned Cloudland away in previous seasons.