Joe Dalton didnt miss a beat when his best player was forced to leave the court with a bout of nausea with three minutes to play in the championship game.
The Porter coach held steady, as did his Panthers, turning back Friendsville, 37-34, for the American Conference title of the Blount Today Elementary Basketball Tournament on Thursday at Heritage Middle School.
Cody Brimer had guided Porter to a 30-28 advantage when nausea,
brought on by ingesting too much Gatorade during the contest, forced
the Panther guard to leave the court for a breather. Friendsville
pulled even at 30-all one possession later.
In a back-and-forth game down the stretch, Andrew Pryors basket put Porter ahead to stay, 34-32, at the two-minute mark.
"I didnt say anything (about Brimer forced to leave)," Dalton said. "I told them just do what weve been working on and dont lose control."
Porters championship victory was secured only after Austin Haworths 3-point attempt at the buzzer hit the back of the rim and bounced off. The talented young Falcon will win his share, Dalton said.
"Hes a bomber," he said. "Youre going to be hearing from Austin."
Brimer led Porter to the crown with nine points, backed by eight
from Caleb McDonald and seven from Garrett Neubert.
Blake Payne, Chad Johnson and Pryor had four each for the Panthers, who finished the season at 11-2.
"Everything comes under control when he (Brimer) gets the ball," Dalton said. "They all look to him and see what were going to do."
Friendsville broke to an opening 8-2 lead behind Haworths hot shooting, which included a pair of 3-pointers. The high-scoring Falcon finished with a game-high 18 points, with Clark Jones adding eight, also burying a pair of 3s.
Haworths buzzer-beater looked good all the way.
"It felt good but it didnt go in," he said.
Even Brimer breathed a sigh of relief.
"I thought it was going in, but it bounced back out," he said. "I said, Oh, Thank you!"
American Conference: Girls
Alcoa 28, Mary Blount 20
During one sequence with two minutes to play in the half, Kolbie Goddard sparked Alcoa with a block, recovering for the steal, before leading a fast break which ended with an assist on a basket by Madison Thompson.
Defense carried the day as the Lady Tornadoes built a 20-10 lead after three quarters and stayed clear.
Thompson paced Alcoa with 10 points, with Goddard adding seven, Keyla Newman six. Ami Hartline led Mary Blount with six, with Samantha Henry and Haley Talbott adding four each.
The win for the Lady Tornadoes (11-1) avenged a loss to Mary Blount earlier this year.
"Our girls play with so much heart and so much character," Alcoa
coach Jackie Ambury said. "They just would not lose."
Mary Blount finished the year 12-1 with the loss.
"We just let ourselves down on offense," Mary Blount coach Betty Wilson said. "Were a better offensive team that we looked tonight, but Alcoa played a good defensive game."
Mary Blount led 4-2 early before Goddard scored a succession of steals to turn the games tide. The reason for the spurt was easy, she said.
"I wanted it (the championship)," Goddard said.
(Editors note: Blount Today has no photos of the championship girls game due to technical difficulties with our photo equipment. If there are parents with good photos, please contact our office at 981-9102, and we will be happy to publish a photo page. We also need a photo of the All-tournament team from the American Conference Girls.)
National Conference: Girls
Montvale 15, Fairview 9
Montvale coach Misty Heath is expecting her and husband Gregs first child on Christmas. When Fairview closed to 13-9 with only minutes to play in Fridays big-schools championship game, Heath was reminded of a conversation shed had with her players at the start of the season.
"They said, What if that baby comes before we get done playing," Heath said. "I told them, Well worry about it when the time comes."
Montvale held off Fairview despite one of its key players, guard Baylee Majors, limited with foul trouble throughout. The feeling was "awesome!" when Montvale held on, she said. Loren Whaley and India Lawson had four each for Montvale, with Lawson displaying exception court savvy for a fifth-grader. The quick guard credited her dad, Scott, for helping her with her game.
"I learned all my stuff from him," she said.
Named the to all-tournament team, Whaley quickly dismissed any individual acclaim.
"I think we all deserve a trophy, not just individuals, because we all worked hard," she said.
Jennifer Houser led Fairview with six points, with Sarah Mure adding a basket.
National Conference: Boys
Montvale 31, Middlesettlements 13
Zach Wilburn is one of those names to write down for future reference. The kids got game.
"Thats God-given," Montvale coach Alan Wilburn, Zachs father, said. "It wasnt from me."
Wilburn put on a display of ball handling and scoring that led his team to a 13-2 lead after a quarter, a point from which the Knights never looked back. The Knights guard finished with a game-high 13 points, with T.J. White adding eight, Alex Gregory and Ethan Deakins six each. Sam Rule had three to lead the Settlers, who struggled with their free-throw shooting in the championship contest.
Wilburns skills allowed Montvale to press an up-tempo attack from games outset.
"He (Alan Wilburn) told me we needed to get off to a quick start," Zach said. "He told me, Get to the basket, play smart and use your teammates."
All-tournament teams: Due to technical difficulties, photographs of
the American and National conference all-tournament
teams will run in the Dec. 21 edition of Blount Today.