Wildcats outlast Lebanon 66-62 in home opener

Mt. Juliet’s Josh Keck scores a breakaway layup during the Golden Bears’ big third quarter.

GLADEVILLE — Wilson Central’s boys may be the most improved team in District 9-AAA.

The Wildcats took the lead in the third quarter and held off visiting Lebanon in a 66-62 victory in Wilson Central’s home opener.

Jarred Hall had just given Lebanon a 43-41 third-quarter lead when the Blue Devil defense kept Wilson Central from getting off a good shot. But the Wildcats kept passing the ball around for a minute or so even as the LHS bench and fans applauded the D. But Ethan Thomas spoiled the effort with a dagger three-pointer from the corner to put the home team ahead.

“Huge play in the game,” Wildcats coach Michael Teeter said. “When they’re doing what they need to do defensively and it was up to us to just remain poised. We say that word all the time inside out offense, poise. Just relax, go find a shot we’re looking to get. And our staff does a phenomenal job of preparing these guys about what the shot is we need inside of our offense.”

“That was a key possession,” Lebanon coach Jim McDowell said. “They did a good job of slowing the game down at that point in time and making us work defensively and that’s a possession that stuck out. If we get a stop there, that’s a big momentum swing. But they did a job with their ball movement and they hit the big shot and that was a big momentum swing in their favor.”

After a Kobe Tibbs triple (one of four three-pointers and 11 points in the third quarter) drew the Devils into a 46-46 tie, a putback by Damion Fayne put Central in front to stay 48-46.

Wilson Central led 60-51 midway through the fourth quarter before Lebanon made a final charge, helped in part by the Wildcats missing two front ends of one-and-ones. But Hall was called for a charge on Thomas under the Blue Devils’ offensive basket with 4.6 seconds left. Thomas tossed in two free throws at 3.3 seconds and the home team escaped with a 2-0 district record and 4-3 overall.

“That’s their MO (method of operation),” McDowell said of the charge. “Whereas some guys are going to step over and block shots, they’re going to step over and take charges.

“They did a better job down the stretch and they deserved to win the game.”

“We wanted the opportunity to play at home for the first time this season after six games,” Teeter said. “It’s an in-county rivalry for a reason, but we hadn’t lived up to our end of the bargain the last couple of years. We just wanted to come out tonight and beat them with effort, beat them with energy. We weren’t going to be outworked in a lot of ways. That was our message before we got going.”

“You got to tip your cap to Coach Teeter and Wilson Central,” McDowell said. “Those kids, it stands out on film just watching them, they are the hardest-working team that I’ve seen since I’ve watching film all season long. They came out and shot the ball well the first half, hit seven threes. A lot of that was because they did a great job moving the basketball and getting open looks. You got to give them credit.

“Our kids battled back, took the lead. They did a good job maintaining their composure and making plays down the stretch and getting a lot of second-chance points. Their kids really battled and play for 32 minutes every time we tip it up and that’s something that I’ve got to do a better job of getting our kids to realize the effort level that it takes night in and night out in this league.”

The early moments were back and forth before Wilson Central opened a 19-14 lead at the first-quarter break. Lebanon caught and passed the ‘Cats 2 1/2 minutes into the second quarter on a 15-footer from the wing by Yarin Alexander for a 23-22 Blue Devil lead. A 9-0 Wildcat run turned a 25-25 tie into a 34-25 lead before a 6-0 answer from the Devils trimmed the difference to 37-33 by halftime.

Adler Kerr led Wilson Central with 20 points while Thomas tossed in five triples and two free throws for 17. Zack Markus connected on a pair of threes as he and Fayne each finished with 11. Dakota Boudacious scored seven.

“Tempo is so important,” Teeter said. “We’re figuring out as we go along what our pace has to be compared to what someone like Lebanon’s has to be. It’s finding the right shot inside the offense. If we get a couple of paint touches, a couple of reverses, we end up finding what we need, and the guys did a great job with it tonight.”

Tibbs torched the nets with six three-pointers to lead Lebanon with 26 points while Hall had 15 and Alexander 13. Corey Jones, Luka Saller, Jackson Painter and Jaylen Abston each added two as the Blue Devils dropped to 4-2, 2-2.

In freshmen action, Lebanon defeated Wilson Central 87-39 last Thursday.

Third-quarter run launches Golden Bears to victoryMT. JULIET — Mt. Juliet bounced back from the loss to Wilson Central three nights earlier with a 53-45 win over Portland last Friday.

The Golden Bears used a 24-7 third-quarter run to turn a 25-14 halftime deficit into a 38-32 lead. Portland held a 9-8 edge after one period.

Josh Keck threw in 13 points, including three 3-pointers, and Osize Daniyan 12 for the Golden Bears, who pulled even at 1-1 in District 9-AAA and improved to 4-5 for the season. Jacob Burge added eight points while Bodie Wells scored seven, Daniel Beard six, Kyle Taylor four, Matt Delfendahl two and Zach Freeman a free throw.

Caeson Utley led Portland with 12 points while Duncan Smallwood scored 10.

Mt. Juliet is scheduled to travel to Father Ryan on Friday.

Green Hill boys fall to Station Camp in Hawks’ inaugural 9-AAA gameGALLATIN — Green Hill’s boys are still seeking their inaugural win after dropping their first-ever District 9-AAA contest 65-58 at Station Camp last Friday.

The Hawks did lead 13-10 at the first-quarter break and 28-27 at halftime before the Bison charged to a 42-38 advantage going into the fourth as Green Hill fell to 0-4.

Keaton Major fired in five three-pointers to lead Station Camp while Eli Rice tossed in 21 as the Bison improved to 5-2, 1-1.

Paxton Davidson dropped in 20 points and Riggs Abner 16, including a pair of threes, to lead Green Hill. Mo Ruttlen and Jason Burch each added eight points, Blake Stacey four and Zach Blair two.

Green Hill is scheduled to host Wilson Central on Friday night.

Saints succumb to Ezell-HardingANTIOCH — Mt. Juliet Christian dropped a 55-31 decision at Ezell-Harding last Friday night.

The Eagles led 14-7 following the first quarter, 29-16 at halftime and 41-20 through three as the Saints slipped to 1-3 for the season while Ezell improved to 2-1.

Jack Ellis scored 16 points and Cameron Hunt 13 for Ezell-Harding.

Jordan Willis scored nine for the Saints while Derrick Crouch collected seven, Luke Nave and Justin Matthews four each, Chase Smith three and Brittain Gore and Caleb Smith two apiece.

Mt. Juliet Christian was scheduled to travel to Franklin Road Christian in Murfreesboro on Monday night.

Markus sticks a 3 in Mt. Juliet’s side as Wildcats win 9-AAA openerMT. JULIET — Mt. Juliet’s Daniel Beard did his best to beat his former Wilson Central teammates last Tuesday night.

But the Wildcats forced a 10-second backcourt violation with half a minute left trailing by two and Zack Markus connected on a three-pointer from the side for the lead with 13 seconds left. A steal and two free throws by Ethan Thomas widened the lead to three and when Beard’s last-ditch triple from the corner hit the top of the backboard, Central escaped with a 43-40 win in the District 9-AAA opener for both teams.

In a game of runs, Mt. Juliet opened with a 9-2 lead. But Central went on an extended 20-4 run which put the Wildcats ahead 22-17 early in the second half. After Golden Bear coach Jonathan Drake called timeout, MJ went on a 14-3 run for a 31-23 lead early in the fourth.

Central scored the next six points with Markus connecting for three from the corner to catch the Bears at 31-31 with 5:15 to play. But the Wildcats couldn’t get the lead back and fell behind 37-33 and 40-36 before a putback by Markus made it a two-point game as Wilson Central coach Michael Teeter called timeout with 39.4 seconds left to set up the backcourt press which forced the turnover.

“We’re really an inexperienced team right now and we’re feeling all this out on the fly as a team,” Teeter said after the Wildcats climbed to 3-3. “It’s not unusual for us to come out and go on that 9-2 run defensively for them. We woke up and were able to hold them to four points in the second quarter to go into half with a little bit of momentum. Down the stretch, we were trying to pressure. They had us in a bad spot because they hit a couple of threes. Daniel Beard hit some big shots for them.

“Mt. Juliet played really well. They did everything to win this game. Coach Drake did a great job. We just made probably a few more plays there at the end. But this is typical District 9. Every night is going to be a tough night, no matter who you’re playing and it’s probably going to come down to a couple of plays.”

“Our biggest issue is we don’t handle pressure real well,” Drake said. “It’s guys learning to play, trying to figure out what high school basketball really is. Teams are going to pressure us all year so we got to find some guys who are going to step up and be willing to take care of the ball in that crunch-time situation and want the ball.”

Adler Kerr’s emergence as a scorer continued for the ‘Cats with 21 points while Markus the eight key points in the fourth and 12 total. Damian Fayne finished with four points, Thomas three free throws, Evan Riggan two and Dakota Boudoucies a foul shot.

Golden Bears edge Oakland 50-49MURFREESBORO — Mt. Juliet’s boys edged host Oakland 50-49 Monday night at Randy King Gym.

The Golden Bears led 13-9 following the first quarter, 25-19 at halftime and 38-35 going into the fourth as they improved to 3-4.

Daniel Beard buried a pair of three-pointers as he and Osize Daniyan each dropped in 10 points for Mt. Juliet. Jacob Burge also bagged a couple of threes as he and Josh Keck each collected eight points, Owen Rodriguez five, Bodie Wells four, Zach Freeman and Matt Delfendahl two apiece and Kyle Taylor a free throw.

Carrington Allen led Oakland, coached by Lebanon native and former Wilson Central coach Troy Bond, with 18 points while Brody Burchard scored 17.

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