By Matt Myers
If your love of basketball is rooted in the fast break transition game then keep these three names in mind: Jacoby Thompson, Blake Rodgers and Alijah Dunn.
Thursday night in Middle School basketball action from John B. Large Gymnasium, the swift scoring trio proved to be the Sevier Middle School Warriors’ most sustainable scoring threat with 39 combined points as the Warriors (10-5) rode the wave of a tough, run-oriented contest to its very peak and edged by a T.A. Dugger team 58-55.
In the early going it appeared as if the Jr. Cyclones (12-5) would dominate play as Nathan Norris followed a deep tally for three of his nine points on the night with a sterling no-look feed to Bo Pless from the top of the key.
Pless converted the smooth lob with an easy bucket for two of the left-handed forward’s nine points on the night and a 13-2 Jr. Cyclone assault to open play was complete.
For the Warriors, it was a collective shot in the arm. A time-out to regroup after the initial TAD attack seemed to calm the speedy Warriors, and the resulting execution was intimidatingly fearsome.
The play of Dunn en route to his 10-point evening, coupled with the play of Darius Peterson, who would eventually garner 7 points, complemented a Warrior defense that met the Jr. Cyclones at half-court to cause turnovers. It spurred the Black and Red charges forward to the tune of a 19-8 second quarter point advantage.
Although Conley Bowers began to really assert himself from the post for T.A. Dugger, in what became a double-double, 13-point, 12-board performance for the impressive center, the 27-19 intermission advantage placed the momentum squarely on the Sevier side of the floor.
As play resumed in the second half the Jr. Cyclones set about relocating that momentum permanently.
Mitchell Dailey’s 15-foot jump shot at the 3:30 mark of the third quarter resulted in two of the game leaders’ 18 tallies on the evening and was the culmination of a Jr. Cyclone surge, which also saw Pless nail a deep corner 3-ball and Bowers’ strong play in the post, for a 28-27 lead.
Once again, the Jr. Cyclone run seemed to do nothing but spur on the momentum of the Warriors as a pair of deep treys via Eddie Karst gave way to a two-headed transition attack that would be the catalyst for a Warrior run that left an 57-45 edge by the 1:45 mark of the 4th quarter.
Thompson and Rodgers provided the fireworks in the fast-paced attack that wore down the enduring Jr. Cyclones as they both took full advantage of open passing lanes en route to a 15-point night for Thompson and a 14-point night for Rodgers.
Although the last 1:45 was made incredibly exciting by a ferocious Jr. Cyclone last stand marked by two 3-pointers via Dailey and another rung up by Norris, the palpable transition control and execution of the Warriors was too much for the shooters from Betsy to overcome in the end.
Afterwards jubilant Sevier coach Aaron Gourley expressed pride in his team and respect for his opponent.
“I am proud of how we came out and performed tonight,” said Gourley. “Of course three guys really carried the scoring load, but we also got production all around for ourselves offensively and I’m happy with that.
“When you face a tough shooting team like this you cannot afford to be out of control at any time and I think we avoided losing control and survived how good they were late. You have to be proud about this win and gain momentum going forward.”
T.A. Dugger rolls in JV play
Hayden Townsend and Hunter Vines scored 12 points apiece and teammates Josh Arthur and John Ramsey scored 8 and 6 points respectively as T.A.D. (10-6) roared past Sevier (1-10) in the earlier JV tilt.
The Orange and Black waves just kept on coming after a 19-8 halftime lead, and the boys from Betsy shot as well as their varsity and high school counterparts amidst blazing transition execution to build a 24-point final margin.
The Jr. Cyclone bench combined for a staggering 17 points after the coaching staff opted for merciful substitution and the dominant win marks the 10th on the year for the junior varsity squad.
The youngest members of Betsy nation certainly impressed all in attendance as they never trailed in the contest. The play of Tyson Cornett and Ansel Scott paced the Warriors as the youngsters rang up 12 and 8, respectively.