When Lebanon’s boys found themselves down by 11 to begin the second half, they turned up the heat on visiting Mt. Juliet.
The Blue Devils took the game the full 94 feet and raced past the Golden Bears 60-50 before a rip-roaring bi-partisan crowd at Campbell Brandon Gym/Hester Gibbs Court.
Mt. Juliet led 27-16 at halftime before the Blue Devils worked their way back into the game. A 9-0 run, which included two free throws by KeShawn Abston which put Lebanon back in front during the closing seconds of the third quarter, sling-shotted LHS in control 44-36.
“We really wanted to make it a fullcourt game,” Lebanon coach Jim McDowell said after his Blue Devils bounced back from a double-overtime loss to Beech 24 hours earlier to improve to 11-4 for the season and 3-2 in District 9-AAA. “Mt. Juliet is so good in the halfcourt game. We figured if we could make it an up-and-down fullcourt game, that would definitely be to our advantage.
“I can’t say enough about our kids, especially our seniors… coming back, getting off the mat and battling back from 11 down in the second half.”
And what could have been a bad occurrence against Lebanon may have worked in the Blue Devils’ favor after Kadarian Garnett had to exit the game with his fourth foul in the third quarter.
“When he came out, we went smaller and that gave them some matchup problems,” McDowell said after the Blue Devils’ first win over their cross-county rival in some five seasons, well before he returned to his alma mater to coach three years ago. “KeShawn really battled inside guarding [Reagan] Johnson. That kid is very talented, really skilled inside and outside.
“We really challenged them to push the basketball in the second half. Our press bothered them some. I can’t say enough about our kids coming back from last night.”
Lebanon had an early 6-4 lead as both teams played bombs away from downtown. But Mt. Juliet closed the first quarter with a 12-0 run, including a pair of three-pointers by Nolan Chowbay, for a 16-6 lead.
“Their press gave us a lot of problems,” Mt. Juliet coach Troy Allen said after his Golden Bears, coming off a win over District 9-AAA-leading Station Camp the night before, slipped to 10-6, 3-2. “We did really do a good job of getting where we were supposed to get.
“At the end of the day, they were tougher than us, which is disappointing. They rebounded better than us, beat us down the floor a couple of times. They picked up the intensity and didn’t match it.”
DaShawn McMurry swished three 3-pointers in leading Lebanon with 16 points while Eddie McDaniels dropped in all seven of his free throws, including six in the fourth quarter, on his way to 12. Abston, Garnett and center Corvell Huddleston each had 10 with Huddleston’s all coming in the second half. Jemel Officer added two off the bench.
Chowbay fired in four triples in leading Mt. Juliet with 24 points while Johnson tossed in 10. John Mark Bell tossed in two threes for his six while James Womack and Daniel Schroder finished with four each and Nick Sadler two.
Both teams will be at home for district games Tuesday night – Mt. Juliet against Wilson Central and Lebanon vs. Portland.
Eagleville boys overtake MJCA in fourth
MT. JULIET — Eagleville’s boys soared from behind in the fourth quarter Saturday to overtake Mt. Juliet Christian 55-51.
The Saints led 42-35 with eight minutes left before the Eagles used a 20-9 period to drop Mt. Juliet Christian to 8-8 for the season.
Eagleville led 12-9 following the first quarter before the teams went into halftime tied 26-26.
Brandon Kelly connected on three 3-pointers to lead Eagleville with 14 points.
Newman Ward finished with 15 points and Zack Jones 12 for Mt. Juliet Christian. Alex Graves scored seven, Wyatt Oberg five, Landon Boyd, Drew Headrick and Justus Willis a three-pointer apiece and Gilbert Russ two.
Mt. Juliet Christian will play host to Friendship Christian in an East-Middle District 1-A game Tuesday night.