So many weapons, so little time

Rebels enter postseason with deep scoring punch

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By Stefan Cooper
Sports Editor
Blount Today

With four players averaging in double figures, a fifth just back at nine, Maryville is deep.

The second-seeded Rebels enter Friday’s retooled District 4AAA tournament with all the needed armament to repeat last season’s run to the title.

"We’re as talented as anybody," first-year Maryville coach Mark Eldridge said, "but are we going to do the things we need to do to win?"

For the first time, the district tournament quarterfinal round will be held at the league’s top four seeds. Eight-seeded South-Doyle travels to regular-season champion Farragut on Friday, with fourth-seeded William Blount hosting fifth-seeded Lenoir City, seventh-seeded Heritage visiting the second-seeded Rebels and sixth-seeded Sevier County at third-seeded Bearden.

All tipoffs are 7 p.m.

The tournament’s semifinals and finals are scheduled for Monday and Wednesday, respectively, at Maryville High.

In past years, the district’s top two seeds were gifted an automatic berth to the region tournament in a week’s time. Only Friday’s winners will earn their way regions under the new format. While he wouldn’t mind have a region bid secured,
Eldridge welcomes the change.

"I think the tournament is designed to give everybody a chance," he said.

With the Governors handing the top-seeded Admirals their only league loss down the stretch, they’re not words to be taken lightly.

"The coaching is really strong throughout the league," Eldridge said. "I think either a one or six (seed) could win. I think there’s going to be an upset somewhere."

The Rebels enter postseason a team much-improved from the one that staged somewhat of shocker in wresting the crown from regular-season champion Bearden a year ago. Maryville was 20-11 at this point last season. The Rebels are a hot 21-6 this time around, with offensive firepower available on all sides.

Senior shooting guard Kent Basile is torching opponents from the perimeter for 15 points a night, with 6-foot-7 junior Aaron Douglas, a University of Tennessee football commitment, and junior guards Wes Lambert and Jordan Damron pumping in 12 per outing. Senior and Tennessee football signee Tyler Maples, most valuable player of last year’s district tournament, is tossing in nine per contest.

"All of them have scored 20 points or better in a game at one point this season," Eldridge said.

Basile came with a point of that number in one quarter in a scorching outburst against Lenoir City a week ago. With such balanced scoring, the Rebels can vary the point of attack like few others.

"As long as we share the ball and play team, we can score with anybody," Eldridge said.

Hired in August, Eldridge didn’t have summer ball to mold this season’s Rebels into a team. The school’s football team didn’t make things any easier, claiming its third consecutive state crown with another deep postseason run in December.

Douglas and Maples weren’t available until basketball season was well underway. Maples, who injured an ankle in football, didn’t arrive until January.

Maryville finished 5-1 against county competition this season, including a pair of convincing wins over the Mountaineers, but Eldridge said he’s taking nothing for granted.

Maryville’s only blemish in county play this season came at Alcoa. The Mountaineers took one of this season’s best games last month when a Michael Haynes fade-away 3-pointer with seconds remaining stunned the Tornadoes at Alcoa, 63-61.

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