Coming off a run unprecedented in school history, a slew of graduations and transfers prompted by the opening of nearby Green Hill has Mt. Juliet’s boys essentially starting over under new coach Jonathan Drake.
“It’s tough,” said Drake, a MJHS graduate who is taking over for Troy Allen, who left for Green Hill. “When the school split, a bunch of the seniors stayed, but there are a lot of guys who don’t have a ton of varsity experience. We’re learning. Not having a preseason like we normally have, or a summer, we’re learning on the fly, a baptism-by-fire kind of thing.
“They’re playing hard for us. We just got a lot of things we got to correct. We get lackadaisical way too often and we got to get that corrected.”
The Golden Bears won both their TSSAA Hall of Champions games, but have since lost four straight, including 65-46 to Independence last Friday and 47-29 to Upperman on Saturday in the John Greer State Farm Thanksgiving Classic at Lebanon.
Against Independence, coached by former Lebanon coach Doug Keil, Mt. Juliet jumped to a 9-2 lead. But the Eagles soared to a 21-12 lead during the second quarter and went into halftime ahead 31-20. The Golden Bears drew to within two on several occasions in the second half but could never quite catch up.
“The guys are new to playing real high school basketball,” Drake said. “There’s ebbs and flows. We talk all the time about minimizing the ebbs and flows, to keep it steady and stay consistent. When things go good, they’re going good, and when things go bad, we hang our head a little bit. It’s growing stuff. It’s guys learning how to play and what high school basketball really is and what it really means to be competitive.”
Jett Montgomery knocked down 9 of 14 free throws and a pair of three-pointers to lead Independence with 23 points while Tyus Anderson added 12.
Josh Keck led Mt. Juliet with 16 points, including three 3-pointers. Osize Daniyan and Jacob Burge each notched nine points while Bodie Wells bagged a pair of threes for six, Kyle Taylor three, Zach Freeman two and Daniel Beard a free throw.
Against Upperman, Daniyan dropped in 12 points and Burge eight. Collin Gore poured in 25 for the Bees.
Mt. Juliet was to go to Oakland on Monday night and open the District 9-AAA schedule Tuesday at home against Wilson Central before hosting Portland on Friday.
Wilson Central surges from behind in fourth quarter to overtake CentennialFRANKLIN — Wilson Central’s boys put the clamps on host Centennial in the fourth quarter Tuesday night as the Wildcats came from behind for a 57-40 win.
Centennial led 38-35 going into the fourth before the Wildcats closed out the Cougars with a 22-2 final eight minutes as they claimed their second straight triumph after three opening losses.
Zak Markus knocked down 19 points for Central, including 11 in the fourth quarter. He sank seven free throws in the fourth and 11 for the game. Adler Kerr fired in 15 points and Ethan Thomas 10 as each threw in a pair of three-pointers. Dakota Boudoucies finished with five points and Evan Riggan and Damion Fayne four each.
No one scored in double figures for Centennial.
Markus connected on four first-quarter free throws as Central led 17-11. The Wildcats carried a 27-21 lead into halftime before Centennial used a 17-8 surge in the third to take the advantage going into the fourth.
First-quarter shutout leaves Golden Bears in hole
BAXTER — Mt. Juliet’s boys were shut out in the first quarter Tuesday and the Golden Bears could never recover in a 50-38 loss at Upperman.
The Bees bolted to a 15-0 first-quarter lead and were up 29-9 at halftime. It was 37-24 going into the fourth.
Collin Gore threw in 13 points and Isaiah Allen 12 for Upperman.
Osize Daniyan led Mt. Juliet with 11 points while Jacob Burge notched nine, Josh Keck eight and Daniel Beard and Kyle Taylor five each.
Bad start costs MJCA
Mt. Juliet Christian’s boys fell into an early hole Tuesday night in a 47-30 road loss to the Middle Tennessee Heat.
The Heat opened an 18-2 first-quarter lead and were up 25-9 at halftime and 38-22 going into the fourth as the Saints slipped to 1-1.
Jonah Randal buried a pair of three-pointers to lead the Heat with 16 points.
Derrick Crouch and Luke Nave each notched 10 points for the Saints while Jordan Willis finished with five, Justin Matthews four and Brittain Gore a free throw.
Mt. Juliet Christian was scheduled to open the District 4-IIA schedule Tuesday night at Nashville Christian.
Kerr’s 35 leads Wildcats to first win
SPARTA — Adler Kerr connected for 35 points Monday night as Wilson Central’s boys beat White County 65-51 at Roy Sewell Gym.
Kerr connected on a pair of early three-pointers to ignite his 14-point first quarter as the Wildcats opened an 18-9 lead eight minutes in. He had 20 by halftime as Central was up 31-20 and 27 through three to give the visitors a 47-37 advantage.
Zak Markus threw in 13 points and Ethan Thomas 10 to help the Wildcats to their first win following three losses to open the season. Damion Fayne finished with four points, Dakota Boudouies two and Evan Riggan a free throw.
Grant Slatten scored 20 points and Kade Clark 14 for White County.
Wilson Central was coming off a pair of TSSAA Hall of Champions losses in Chattanooga last Saturday to host East Hamilton 61-56 and Morristown East 68-61.
Green Hill boys outscored by PJPII despite 26 from Abner
FRANKLIN — A fast start by Sam Specht helped Pope John Paul II’s boys to an early lead and an eventual 68-56 win over Green Hill at Centennial on Monday night.
Specht sank two three-pointers to begin the game and finished the first quarter with 11 points as PJPII led 18-12. The Knights were up 32-24 at halftime and 47-35 going into the fourth. Specht swished his third triple in the fourth as he finished the night with 26 points.
Riggs Abner matched Specht with 26 of his own, including 12 in the fourth, for Green Hill. He had 19 in the second half and both threes in the fourth as the Hawks fell to 0-3.
Paxton Davidson dropped in three triples on his way to 14 points and Jason Burch 13 for Green Hill. Zach Blair tossed in two points and Blake Stacey a free throw.
Big second quarter lifts MJCA boys to opening victory
MT. JULIET — Mt. Juliet Christian’s boys rode a big second quarter to a season-opening win of the season Monday night, 46-37 over Red Boiling Springs at Mt. Juliet Middle’s Tommy Martin Gym.
The Saints snapped a 5-5 tie with a 17-4 second quarter to open a 22-9 halftime lead. It was 28-20 going into the fourth as Mt. Juliet Christian was a winner in the first of just two “home” games this season after the March tornado destroyed its gym.
Jordan Willis and Derrick Crouch each collected 11 points and Luke Nave 10 for Mt. Juliet Christian. Max Beaty bagged a pair of three-pointers on his way to eight while Brittain Gore threw in three, Chase Smith two and Justin Matthews a free throw.
Colton Copas connected on three triples to lead Red Boiling Springs with 14 points as the Bulldogs dropped to 0-4.