Triple play

Rebel guard trio delivering sensational season

Let’s say, you’re a high school basketball coach, you’ve got Maryville tonight, and, after looking at the sick numbers he’s been putting up, you’ve decided Jordan Damron is not going to beat you.

Wherever the Rebel senior goes, you’ve assigned your best defender to dog his every step. When he cuts for the basket, you double him.

Result?

Ryan Click and Wes Lambert shoot your team right out of the building.

No. 4-ranked Maryville (21-3, 13-0 District 4AAA) is one game away from running the table in league play. Only Sevier County on Friday stands between the defending state champion Rebels and a district clean sweep.

Damron, Click and Lambert are a big part of the reason why. Each, led by Damron’s 19.4 points per game, is averaging in double figures. Each is shooting at or near 40 percent from 3-point range, with Damron the most deadly from distant, knocking down 42 percent of his shots.

Combined, Lambert (11.5 points per game), Click (10.5) and Damron are pumping 40 points of offense on a Maryville team where all five starters, actually, are scoring in double figures. Junior Jay Reynolds and senior Aaron Douglas are averaging 11.3 and 9.1 points, respectively.

“They do a great job,” Damron said. “It opens up everything knowing we have threats from every position.”

It’s the deep bombing runs by Click, Lambert and Damron that gives Maryville the edge, though. They’re unselfish. They’re battle-tested. They like each other.

“Even last year, when the three of them were out there together, we felt there was a lot of chemistry,” Maryville coach Mark Eldridge said. “They’re good friends and they like playing together.”

“We’ve known each other for years,” Damron said. “Wes and I go way back. We played on the same T-ball team when we were 5 years old.”

Damron, the team’s point guard and assists leader, is the catalyst. A deadly shooter with NBA range, he must be accounted for on the perimeter.

“He gets so many looks because teams know how well Wes and Ryan are shooting it from the perimeter,” Eldridge said. “With Ryan and Wes shooting 40 percent from 3, a lot of people aren’t going to help off those guys.”

When opponents come with pressure, Damron, equally adept off the dribble, is quick into the lane.

“There aren’t many guys who are going to keep Jordan from the lane,” Eldridge said.

That’s when the fun really starts. Damron’s drives, at minimum, draw attention. Lose Lambert, a 6-foot senior, and Click, a 6-1 junior, for an instant, and Damron is quick to find them.

“I’ve definitely looked to assert myself and get in the lane more this year,” Damron said. “To have shooters to either side is a great feeling.”

Maryville’s overtime win over No. 5-ranked Bearden (22-2, 10-2) two weeks ago was the Damron/Click/Lambert 3-point carousel operating at full throttle. Damron, who’d hit the Bulldogs for 42 points earlier in the season, drew much of the attention in the opening half. As a consequence, Bearden often lost track of Click and Lambert, who pumped in 14 and seven first-half points, respectively.

Click knocked down four first-half 3s, with Lambert adding a fifth.

Damron, with only three points at the half, took full advantage when the Bulldogs pulled the defense in on itself to slow his drives in the second half. The budding Division I prospect erupted in the second half and overtime, finishing his night with 35 points and eight 3-pointers in a 73-71 win.

Maryville’s three amigos are no strangers to delivering when it matters most.

Damron was huge in Maryville claiming its first state basketball championship last March in Murfreesboro. With starter Kent Basile and Tyler Maples both fouling out in the fourth quarter of the championship game, the 6-foot Damron put on a fierce feat of scoring through the end of regulation and two overtimes to carry the Rebels.

Damron, who’s considering an invited walk-on offer from the University of Tennessee, received tournament most valuable player honors for his efforts.

When Maryville reached victory’s doorstep at the end of the second extra session, Click blew the door open, his 3-pointer as time expired stunning third-ranked Clarksville, 69-66.

In the double-overtime shootout at Bearden earlier this year, Lambert went 4-for-4 from the line inside the final minute to ice it for the Rebels, 94-92.

“All three of them have made big shots in the last couple of years,” Eldridge said.

Keeping last year in perspective has never been a problem for Damron, Click and Lambert, Eldridge said. Damron has only upped the ante this season to rank second in the district in scoring.

Click’s numbers bear witness to anything but a one shot wonder.

“Ryan handled it well,” Eldridge said. “He was very mature about the shot. So was Jordan about getting MVP.”

So much so, they’d like nothing better than a chance to do it again.

“I think all the guys enjoyed the moment,” Eldridge said, “and they’re on a mission to get back down there.”

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