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Commander comeback thwarted
Mar 05, 2007 12:00 am
WATERTOWN — It seems like Pickett County is in the Region 4-A finals every season while Friendship Christian was making its first appearance in the round of 16 in six years.
That experience factor may have been the difference as the Bobcats held off a gritty and tenacious Commander team 63-58 before a bi-partisan packed house Thursday night.
Friendship appeared tentative in the first quarter as Pickett fired out to a 17-5 lead. The Commanders became more aggressive on offense as the second period began. But every Friendship run was answered by the Bobcats until a final FCS push, ignited by the defense, produced an 11-0 run which sliced what had been a 15-point deficit early in the fourth quarter down to two with less than a minute to play.
But a foul call went Pickett's way and the Bobcats hit 5 of 6 free throws to finish the game and deny the Commanders their first region championship.
"You can't go play good teams and dig yourself a hole and that's what we did the first quarter," said Friendship coach Matt Bradshaw, whose 24-6 Commanders will travel to Chattanooga to take on Tennessee Temple, a 53-41 winner over Arts & Sciences in the Region 3-A final, for the sectional at 6 p.m. CST Monday as they continue to seek their first Boys State Tournament berth. "I can attribute some of it to a group of kids that had never been this far in basketball, good-sized crowd. So give some of it nervousness.
"But give them a lot of credit. They made a lot of shots early and we couldn't put the ball in the basket early. But our kids did a great job fighting back there in the fourth quarter."
Jacob Wright fired in four three-pointers on his way to 20 points while Brent Logan threw in three triples in route to 11. Forward T.C. Capps solidified his tournament Most Valuable Player award with 18 points and 12 rebounds as the Bobcats shot 51 percent from the floor, including 7-of-15 from three-point range, and 10-of-12 from the foul line to improve to 28-8.
After the slow start, Friendship finished 26-of-57 from the floor [45 percent]. But the Commanders connected on just 2 of 15 three-pointers and 4 of 10 free throws.
"Two of 15 from three is unacceptable, 4 of 10 from the line is unacceptable," Bradshaw said. "We're better shooters than that and you got to make shots to win basketball games. That's what it boils down to and they made shots tonight."
What got Friendship back in the game was turnovers. Pickett finished with 18 turnovers to the Commanders' eight.
Two straight Bobcat turnovers added fuel to Friendship's run which saw Garrett McKnight bring the Commanders within 58-56 on a one-hander in the lane with less than a minute to play.
But McKnight was called for a foul in front of the scorer's table to put Pickett into the bonus and the Bobcats sealed the deal.
"Give them credit, they made the plays they had to make to win the ballgame," Bradshaw said. "Our kids fought hard and played hard. But we got to put the ball in the basket at the right times."
Michael Teeter notched 19 points and seven rebounds for Friendship while McKnight and John Doak each added 11, Adam Stephens 10 and John Hatcher seven.
Stephens, Hatcher and Teeter made the All-Tournament team from Friendship along with Pickett's Wright, Logan and big man Brett Roddy, Jackson County's Bradley Crowder and Brandon Hopkins and Trousdale County's Alex Gregory.
Now the Commanders, in their sixth sectional since 1986, will travel to face Temple Academy in Tennessee Temple University's gym.
"Either way, you're one win away from the State Tournament," Bradshaw said, noting Pickett County will face the same pressure at home against Arts & Sciences. "Tonight was a fun game because you got to see if you wanted to play at home.
"We're going to have to go play well to win and I'm sure if we play well, I fully expect we can go out and compete and beat anybody right now. I feel confident with our guys. We'll make some corrections this weekend and be ready to play on Monday."
Bears go down in 5-AAA final, travel to Whites Creek on Monday
HENDERSONVILLE — With Tyrone Caldwell and Sean Merriwether scoring inside, Clarksville built a big lead in the second quarter of Thursday's Region 5-AAA final and not even the three-point shooting of Mt. Juliet's Jeremy Dixon and Demond Craig could bring the Golden Bears all the way back at Beech as the Wildcats took the crown 62-52.
Caldwell totaled 26 points and Merriwether 13 as Clarksville claimed the crown with a 30-2 record. The Wildcats widened an 11-8 first-quarter lead to 27-11 by halftime.
The Bears battled to within 36-24 going into the fourth and outscored the Wildcats 28-26 over the final eight minutes as they fell to 21-11.
Dixon dropped in four three-pointers on his way to 20 points while Craig threw in three triples in route to 19. Jonta Bowman finished with five points, Berek Lunn and Cory Payne three each and Antwuan Majors two.
The Bears, who haven't won the region championship in memory, will travel to Whites Creek at 7 p.m. Monday for their first sectional since 2000 and fourth since the early '90s. They have never advanced to the Boys State Tournament, a destination Monday's winner will reach.
Whites Creek won the Region 6-AAA championship by beating Franklin 55-42, sending the Rebels to Clarksville on Monday.
Sports Editor Andy Reed can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 17 or by e-mail at email@example.com.