Putting the ‘jam’ back in jamboree

Shown dunk will be talked about for years

Matt Shown dunked his way into area basketball lore Monday night.

Just how Maryville feels about the Alcoa sophomore’s logo-leaving slam we won’t know much about until January.

Shown pounded through a pair of tasty slams to win the halftime dunk contest at the Blount Today Basketball Jamboree at Maryville’s James Campbell Gymnasium. Shown’s second dunk in the finals raised quite a stir when the beefy, 6-foot-5 center slapped the backboard during the cram, leaving behind a self-adhesive "ALCOA" logo on the glass.

Rebel coaches and administrators thought briefly about leaving it there until the Tornadoes visit Maryville Jan. 21 for the first of two meetings this season.

Instead, Shown’s stagecraft was removed before Heritage’s Mountaineers and William Blount’s Governors resumed the basketball portion of the evening with the night’s third scrimmage. The Tornadoes and host Rebels then staged a spirited, fast-paced finale, with Grant Reynolds making good on a pair of free throws late in lifting Maryville to a 24-23 win.

The high school basketball season began for real one day later, with each of Blount County’s four schools in action Tuesday.

It’s never a good idea to make too much of a jamboree, but this year’s first look at the teams at Alcoa, Heritage, Maryville and William Blount showed us some pretty interesting things.

Alcoa junior Takyah Gilmore blocked a shot on each of Maryville’s first two possessions. Gilmore is a 5-foot-4 guard. Her first block was on 6-foot Lady Rebel junior Torie Vaught - at the basket.

Possessing a to-die-for post game, the Lady Rebels instead used the 3 to break open the quarter with the Lady Tornadoes.

Lauren Burnett and Tracy Hardiman we knew about, but it was a late free-throw line jumper from junior Kathryn Inman that edged Heritage’s Lady Mountaineers past William Blount.

And as for that dunk contest, William Blount senior Ty McBrayer didn’t win it, but the big Governor guard has got some serious hops. Looks like he’s been lifting, too.

When next we check in, each of Blount County’s four schools will have a week’s worth of games in their respective sneakers. Until then, here’s a sampling of what they served up Monday night.

Lady Mountaineers 11, Lady Governors 10

Size is going to be a concern for William Blount this season, and the Lady Governors wasted no time Monday demonstrating how they plan to counter.

All-district sophomore Tatum Burstrom opened with a 3, with juniors Brittany Tipton and Brittany Clark following suit before the end of the quarter. Heritage has one of the area’s best long-distance threats in all-district senior Lauren Burnett, but it was some young kids we didn’t know much about who got the Lady Mountaineers over the top.

Inman finished with a team-best seven points, including the winning bucket in the closing minute. Juniors Kayla Walker and Whitney Wolfe had a basket each for the Lady Mountaineers.

Lady Rebels 16, Lady Tornadoes 11

Gilmore’s blocks were a big opening, but Maryville wasted little time in assuming control.

After a fast-break bucket from senior Carrie Goodson to get things started, the Lady Rebels went inside to all-district center Torie Vaught for two. Kylie Whaley, a 6-foot senior, added another layup moments later. It was enough to give Maryville’s 3-point shooters all the space they needed, and Alex Breazeale, Laney Elrod and Megan Jenkins took full advantage, a bomb from each enabling the Lady Rebels to open a comfortable lead by the midway point.

A Gilmore trey sparked a Lady Tornado rally from seven points down, but two each from freshmen Katie Stubblefield and Megan Hill and a free throw from freshman Megan Hill weren’t enough for Alcoa to close the gap.

Mountaineers 13, Governors 13

Heritage and William Blount hit the jamboree at game pace, a dead heat after a quarter, a testament to the intensity on display.

Zach Sievers tacked an early 3 onto a baseline jumper from fellow senior Tyler McGraw, and the Governors went quickly to a 5-2 lead. Chris Smelcer, six points, answered just as quickly for the Mountaineers. A back-and-forth ensued, with William Blount taking the lead, 13-10, on a steal and breakaway basket from Mikal Parrish with four minutes left.

Heritage got a pair of free-throw line jumpers from Patrick West and Cody Wagner to stay close. A Corey Stroud bucket got the Mountaineers within one, with West’s free throw in the final minute producing the tie.

Rebels 24, Tornadoes 23

Eventually, they say, basketball shorts will start back the other way, today’s ultra-deep, ultra-long standards returning to the days of the skimpy. Daniel Reis isn’t hearing any of that.

Shaq couldn’t see his knees in those things.

The Maryville junior can shoot, too, his baseline jumper slowing an early Alcoa breakaway. It was give and take from there, with Reynolds lifting the Rebels to a 24-18 lead with 1:36 remaining. A late Tornado rush cut the deficit to the final margin, but both teams will look decidedly different come January.

Logan Sharp, team-best eight points, and Gabe Dando, five, will be there for the Tornadoes. Cameron Langley and J.P. Burris are sure to remain mainstays for the Rebels. Both teams, though, still have key elements missing with football, so much on display Monday is subject to change.

Shown’s dunk will surely be long forgotten by January. Mostly.

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