On one second quarter burst, tiny Alcoa Elementary guard Riley Hicks blocked a Madisonville shot, recovered the ball along the baseline, pushed the ball up the court on the break, then fed the ball inside for the tying basket with two minutes to play in the half.
Hicks and Madisonville’s Megan Millsaps dueled in a fascinating display of floor leadership in the American Conference championship game Thursday night at Heritage Middle School.
With four seconds remaining, Madisonville inbounding the ball beneath its basket, Hicks got her hand on a Madisonville pass to knock the ball free, the resulting scramble and tie up exhausting the remaining time as Alcoa claimed the small-schools title of the Blount County Elementary School Basketball Tournament with a 16-15 win.
The champion Lady Tornadoes (9-1) avenged the season’s only loss with the victory, with Erica Anthony’s team-best eight points going a long way to make it happen. McKenzie Thompson had four for Alcoa, with Madison McClurg and Tori Ogle adding two each.
The difference between Madisonville’s regular-season win and Thursday championship game was “defense, defense, defense,” Alcoa coach Jason Boyd said.
“They didn’t work all this time for nothing,” he said.
Shania Leonard’s eight points paced Madisonville (11-1) to within a game of a perfect season, with Madi Haymes, Emily Hawkins and Millsaps adding a basket each. Alcoa led, 10-9, after three quarters when thing really began to heat up.
Madisonville won the regular-season meeting, 24-10. Hicks did a lot to change the outcome this time, Madisonville coach Tony Dunn said.
“It was close (during the regular season) until the point guard (Hicks) fouled out, and we started pulling away,” Dunn said.
The Lady Tornadoes trailed, 15-12, with three minutes remaining when Anthony’s put-back trimmed the deficit to two. With 1:41 left, Hicks knocked the ball from a Madisonville guard, with McClurg recovering. On the ensuing possession, Thompson put back a rebound for what would prove the championship-winning points, the Lady Tornadoes withstanding three Madisonville attempts to retake the lead the rest of the way.
• American Conference All-Tournament Team: Abbey McGuire (Eagleton); Torrie Ogle, Riley Hicks, McKenzie Thompson (Alcoa); Molly Capps, Emily Capps (Porter); Shania Leonard, Madi Haynes (Madisonville).
American Conference Boys - Porter 22, Alcoa 20
Lee Yates swooped into the lane for his only points of the night with 38 seconds left, and the Panthers (11-1) won a thriller to claim the American Conference boys’ championship.
Porter won going away in a regular-season meeting, Panthers coach Raymond Burnett said.
“We beat them by 20-something the first time,” he said. “It’s the tournament, and they’re well-coached.”
It was back and forth all the way, with the score tied at 6-6 after a quarter, the Tornadoes (10-2) leading 12-8 at the half, the Panthers rallying to pull even again, 12-12, entering the fourth.
Alcoa changed things up defensively for the title game rematch, Tornadoes coach Brad McBride said.
“It made all the difference in the world,” he said. “They (the Tornadoes) played hard in the first one. We just couldn’t get our shots to fall.”
Alcoa looked to have opened a decisive gap, 18-15, on Austin Ensly’s baseline jumper with two minutes remaining. On cue, Porter’s Levi Burnett answered with the only 3-pointer of the night on the ensuing possession.
Burnett’s bomb did the trick, the Panthers getting a bucket from Chandler Clark soon after and holding onto the momentum the rest of the way.
Calvin Keeble and Clark tied for team-best honors with six points each to pace Porter, with Burnett finishing with five. Prater French put home two, with Ayden Gist adding a big, fourth-quarter free throw.
Jeylen Myers and Ensly finished with a game-high seven each to lead the Tornadoes. Damien Love pumped in four points for Alcoa, with Avery Kyle adding a deuce.
• American Conference All-Tournament Team: Ayden Gist, Chandler Clark, Calvin Keeble (Porter); Damion Love, J.P. Peyton (Alcoa); Bradley Boling, Jeremiah Murrell (Mary Blount); Tyler Woods (Madisonville).
National Conference Boys - Middlesettlements 48, Union Grove 32
You’ll be reading a lot about Logan Cogburn in coming years.
The Middlesettlements fifth-grader struggled with his shot Friday night, but the Settlers guard totaled an amazing nine assists and five steals in the National Conference championship game at the Blount County Elementary Basketball Tournament at Heritage Middle School.
Cogburn’s savvy drives and quick cuts broke down Union Grove’s defense time and again, and the Middlesettlements’ front court took full advantage in racing away from the Wildcats to claim the big schools title.
“He (Cogburn) is an excellent floor leader,” Middlesettlements coach Kristi Byrd said, “and this is just his second year starting.”
Chandler Cupp pumped in a game-high 21 points, with Cole Swanner adding 17, as the Settlers (13-1) built an 11-point lead at the half and were never really threatened. Cogburn added two points on a second-half, scooped layup, but his ball handling inside the Union Grove defense forced the Wildcats to leave Swanner and Cupp far too often. They didn’t miss when they got the chance.
Dillon Hughes had a big night for Union Grove, knocking down a series of baseline jumpers to pace the Wildcats with 14 points. Ian Raines just missed double figures with eight.
Eric Walker and Dalton Hughes added four apiece for Union Grove, with Markel Monday chipping in a deuce.
Middlesettlements’ ability to keep the tempo high made it difficult for the Wildcats to close a deficit that remained at eight points or more for much of the game.
“Cogburn, the point guard, he’s quick,” Union Grove coach Loxy Bell said. “We tried to do a box-and-one on him, but we still couldn’t pull it out.
“I’m proud of our kids, for a second year program to be in the championship game of the Blount County tournament.”
The Settlers led, 27-14, at the half, quickly opening the gap to 31-16 on a pair of buckets from Swanner to start the third. Cupp joined in soon after, but a charge by the Wildcats reduced the ground to make it 35-28 to start the fourth. Cupp popped for three quick points inside, and Middlesettlements regrouped to put the lead back at 12 with four minutes remaining.
• National Conference All-Tournament Team: Nicholas Jennings, Maryville Christian School; Dillon Hughes, Ian Raines, Union Grove; Codey Phillips, Lanier; Chandler Cupp, Logan Cogburn, Cole Swanner, Middlesettlements; Darrian Ellison, Walland.
National Conference Girls - Middlesettlements 23, Townsend 15
The Big Orange rallied. Big Blue was just too strong as the Lady Settlers set the stage for a Middlesettlements sweep in the National Conference girls’ title game.
Both teams struggled with their shooting for a half before things began to heat up in the third. On the final basket of the third, Townsend’s Abby Jones buried the only 3-pointer of game, trimming the Lady Settlers’ lead to 15-11 with a quarter to play.
Emma Rothery picked up her scoring for Townsend from there, her basket early in the fourth cutting the deficit to two. She did it again after Hannah Fuller answered for Middlesettlements.
Down the stretch, the Lady Settlers seized victory the old-fashioned way, Middlesettlements coach April Herron said.
“I’m just happy my defense could keep them from scoring,” she said. “Those are some good shooters on that Townsend team.”
With 1:36 remaining, the Lady Settlers still clinging to the two-point margin, Abby Sunshine worked her way inside for a couple of layups, giving Middlesettlements enough of a cushion to weather the closing seconds.
“Our game is transition,” Townsend coach Chuck Jones said. “We don’t have the size to play a halfcourt-set offense.”
Daniels led Middlesettlements (14-0) with eight points as the Lady Settlers capped an undefeated season with the title. Fuller would finish with seven, Stephanie Lewis and Sunshine four each.
Rothery carried most of the scoring for Townsend (13-2), finishing with 10 points, with Jones adding five.
• National Conference All-Tournament Team: Allayna Martin, Montvale; Maggie Bell, Union Grove; Madison Everett, Walland; Hannah Fuller, Brittany Daniels, Stephanie Lewis, Middlesettlements; Abby Jones, Emma Rothery, Townsend.