By Matt Myers
Championship Saturday of the Ole Barn Restaurant Christmas Tournament began with the most exciting contest played during the week of bracket action. The 10U championship, an afternoon roundball duel from John B. Large Gymnasium that saw JC Elite barely outlast the Tennessee Dream 39-37, typified the kind of all-around effort that was prevalent during the entire holiday youth club tourney.
The first half began with the Tennessee Dream attacking their evenly matched opponents from Johnson City to the tune of a 5-0 run. Adrienne Henegar’s shooting exhibition, an effort that would garner her 18 points, including three 3-pointers on the afternoon, was on display early as the youngster knocked down two beautiful 15-footers to force a JC Elite timeout for readjustment halfway through the first quarter.
From that point on, the first half became a grudge match that was marked by neither team leading by more than four points. JC Elite’s turnover causing press was the highlight late in the second stanza as their defensive effort spurred on the shooting of Thomas Tipton and allowed the black and white charges to hold a slim 18-17 advantage at the intermission.
The second half saw Tipton continue to shoot well from deep as he added another three at the 4:00 mark of the 3rd quarter, the tally from beyond the arct was one of three for the accurate stalwart amidst a team-high 11-point effort. Griffin Ballard coupled his transition play with his teammates’ shooting to the tune of ten points and tough turnover causing defense from JC Elite allowed them to pull away to the largest margin of the contest 31-26 with three minutes remaining.
Although the transition play of Morgan Jones amidst a nine-point effort, and the transition prowess of Bailey McGee in her own eight point effort coupled with Henegar’s two straight 3’s pushed the JC Elite advantage down to 35-34 in the final minute; it was the defensive determination of JC Elite that propelled them to the late victory as the last two Tennessee Dream possessions resulted in no baskets.
Tanner Stiltner had no intention of seeing his Copperhead teammates go home hardware-less after the 13U championship of the Ole Barn Restaurant Christmas Tournament. With 27 points amidst a very complete 51-33 Copperhead victory over Happy Valley’s PeeWee first team, the offensive weapon proved that he had the best of intentions.
The first half of the championship contest was distinctly characterized by Stiltner’s non-pareil shooting-guard play coupled with the tough inside play of Landon Morefield.
Morefield’s tough inside move for a contested layin at the 1:00 mark of the first half garnered the big man a 3-point play and pushed the Copperhead lead to 24-18; the Copperhead’s would then go on to maintain that lead with strong last-minute defense and by the intermission the red and black swarm left the court with a distinct edge in the big MO department.
Stiltner exploded for an 8-0 run of his own early in the second half that, coupled with the play of Trevor Waycaster amidst his own 7-point, 5-board night, allowed the Copperhead’s to build a 13-point pull-away lead by the end of the third quarter. Although the Warriors of HVPW 1 saw the emergence of their own shooter, Logan Slone, in the second half of what would become a 12-point effort for the youngster, as well as the transition execution of Christian Hicks en route to an 11-point night, it would not be enough to quell the Copperhead advantage.
Press-busting passes late that led to easy baskets for Stiltner and Morefield sealed the fate of the Warriors and allowed the Copperheads to go home with the first-place trophy.
—Austin Burchfield led The Crush to the Ole Barn Restaurant Christmas Tournament 8U championship with 12 points in a victory over Happy Valley’s 3rd Junior Cadet squad.
—Black Ops captured 5th place with a 46-44 buzzer beating victory over the Cyclones.
—Roan Highlands took home 13U and 10U 3rd Place trophies with wins over HVPW 3 and The Tribe, respectively.