Bears' Pruitt named Mr. Basketball finalist

Mt. Juliet point guard Will Pruitt was named a Class AAA finalist for Mr. Basketball on Thursday. The senior was averaging almost 21 points, seven rebounds and 5.5 assists with a 2/1 assist-to-turnover ration and two steals per game through the Golden Bears’ first 20 games. The Lipscomb-signee is a two-time most valuable player of the Willie Brown ‘65 Tournament at Father Ryan. He was District 9-AAA MVP and all-state last year. The other semifinalists are Maryville’s Joe Anderson and Cleveland’s Jacobi Wood. The winners will be announced at 7 p.m. March 10 on the Murphy Center floor at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro. High school head coaches and media members nominated the finalists and a statewide committee of sportswriters selected the winners based on their performance during the 2019-20 regular season. Academics and character were also taken into consideration.

MT. JULIET — Coming off its first District 9-AAA loss of the season, and first setback of the 2020 calendar year, Mt. Juliet reeled off 33 straight points in a 79-31 Senior Night win over Wilson Central last Friday.

The teams traded three-point baskets for most of the first half before Mt. Juliet, leading 32-18, reeled off those 33 straight to open a 65-18 margin late in the third quarter.

“We learned from (the 62-57 home loss to Station Camp last Tuesday) it. We got better this week,” Mt. Juliet coach Troy Allen said after his Golden Bears closed out the regular season 22-3 for the season and 13-1 in the district. “We were sort of trading buckets with them in the first. Second half, we got ourselves right and started picking up the intensity and the pressure. We played pretty special that third quarter.

“I don’t know if I’ve had a team do that (score 33 straight) before.”

Senior Gage Wells flicked in five first-half three-pointers to lead Mt. Juliet with 24 points while Mr. Basketball finalist Will Pruitt poured in 23, including three triples, in his final regular-season home appearance. Riggs Abner scored seven points, Griffin Throneberry and Paxton Davidson two fourth-quarter three apiece for six, senior Isaac Thompson five, Charles Clark four and Josh Keck and Osize Daniyan two each.

Daniel Beard tossed in eight points and Caleb Lawrence eight as each buried a pair of threes for the Wildcats. Dakota Boudacious finished with five, Braiden Staten three, Zack Markus-Kellerman and Adler Kerr two apiece and Jordan Beard a free throw as Central slipped to 11-15, 3-11.

Both teams will be at Wilson Central this Friday for the district tournament. Top-seed Mt. Juliet will face Hendersonville while the Wildcats, seeded seventh, will take on No. 2 Beech.

Station Camp breaks Bears’ 13-game win streakMT. JULIET — Mt. Juliet’s boys had already clinched the top seed in next week’s District 9-AAA tournament, so Tuesday night’s surprising 62-57 loss to Station Camp only kept the Golden Bears from running the table in the league and snapped a 13-game winning streak.

The teams were tied 11-11 following the first quarter before Mt. Juliet edged in front 25-22 going into halftime. Station Camp moved in front 37-36 going into the fourth before the Bison closed out the Bears with a 25-21 fourth as MJ fell to 21-3 for the season and 12-1 in the district.

Eli Thurston sank three second-half three-pointers to lead Station Camp with 17 points.

Gage Wells fired in five threes to lead Mt. Juliet with 17 points while Will Pruitt produced 15 and Charles Clark 13. Riggs Abner added eight and Isaac Thompson as the Bears tasted defeat for the first time since losing to Siegel and Hillsboro the week before Christmas.

Commanders lead from wire to wire to oust Saints

After watching their girls get upset by Mt. Juliet Christian, Friendship Christian’s boys made sure the same fate wouldn’t hit them by leading from start to finish in a 67-42 win in the Division II District 4-A tournament play-in game Monday night at FCS’ Bay Family Sportsplex.

The Commanders jumped out to a 6-0 lead. The Saints quickly got the margin sliced to two, but Friendship wen t back up 12-6 by the first-quarter break.

Mt. Juliet Christian stayed within striking distance throughout the second quarter, trailing 26-22 at halftime.

But Friendship put the Saints away with a 24-7 third period to open a 50-29 lead as the Commanders advanced to the quarterfinal game at top-seeded Goodpasture with an 11-20 record.

“Very proud of our guys tonight. They came out with a defensive intensity that we really needed,” Commander coach Ben Johnson said. “Had to sit some guys with fouls.

“But in the third, everything clicked. Good pressure defense. We hit five five threes in the third, just a solid effort.”

Andrew Mathis poured in 21 points and Mitch Pelham 15 as each put in a pair of threes for Friendship. Dillon Turner turned in nine points, Casey Jones seven, La’Quarrius Talley and Charley Carpenter four each, Bryce Miller a long three, Joseph Meadows two and Max Duckwiler and David Porter a free throw apiece.

Shawn Link led the Saints with 14 points while Carter Branim added 11, including three triples. Montrell Walker finished with five while Jordan Willis and Luke Nave each notched three, Derrick Crouch and Brittain Gore two apiece and Levi Irby a free throw as Mt. Juliet Christian concluded a 6-20 campaign.

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