“If this have been a yr from now, Scott Excessive would’ve received this sport,” I mentioned to one of many Girl Highlander fathers after Scott fell to Kingston, 81-76, in time beyond regulation on Monday.
“If this have been a yr for now,” he corrected me, “We’d be taking part in for first place and never third place.”
Formidable? Maybe. Despite the fact that Scott Excessive is shifting up a classification and into a brand new district that may arguably be weaker than the present District 4-AA, I’m not able to pencil the Girl Highlanders in as district title contenders in 2022 till I see if they’ll discover a solution to change the scoring they’ll be dropping when seniors Julia Butts and Callie Carson graduate.
Butts and Carson, who mixed for 39 of the Girl Highlanders’ 76 factors in Monday’s sport towards Kingston, are simply the staff’s main scorers, and the staff’s solely constant scorers. The latter could also be much more necessary than the previous.
However you’ll be able to’t blame people in Scott County for feeling optimistic in regards to the Girl Highlanders’ progress underneath first-year head coach Jake Wright. They’re 6-16 as they head into Friday’s sport at Northview Academy — which will likely be a real David vs. Goliath problem — however they’re most likely the perfect 6-win staff within the state, they usually’re not even near the identical staff that misplaced by 45 to Oneida again on the weekend earlier than Thanksgiving.
My evaluation of the place the Girl Highlanders stand now vs. the place they is perhaps standing a yr for now could be based mostly on an assumption that this can be a staff that also must discover ways to win. For all that Scott Excessive did proper in Monday’s sport towards Kingston, the Girl Highlanders nonetheless let a 10-point lead slip away within the second half, missed simply sufficient free throws within the fourth quarter to provide Kingston a crack to squeeze by way of, and gave the Yellow Jackets a superb take a look at a game-tying 3-point shot within the nook as the ultimate horn sounded in regulation.
A lot of that may be chalked as much as the identical issues that costed Scott Excessive on Friday, after they went to Fulton for a semifinal sport and have been turned away in a 14-point defeat: On Friday, Fulton walked with some swagger, wanting like a staff that anticipated to win. On Monday, Kingston performed the fourth quarter with some swagger, wanting like a staff that anticipated to win although it had trailed your complete sport.
The Girl Highlanders don’t stroll with a lot swagger; not but, anyway. They’re nonetheless looking for confidence, for an expectation that they’re going to win after they step on the ground. That’ll come, nevertheless it takes time. Scott Excessive hasn’t received many significant video games in additional than 20 years — which is longer than any participant at present related to this system, has been alive.
However there have been flashes. Sophomore Annalyne Woodward is reworking right into a official put up presence. With a full summer time’s work forward of her, she might nicely enter her junior marketing campaign within the Girl Highlanders’ new Class AAA district as one in every of that league’s prime put up gamers. Julie Lewallen, a rising senior, obtained the chance to slip into the beginning lineup when Scott misplaced Zoey Terry to an ACL harm, and she or he scored 12 factors within the third quarter alone on Monday, en path to a career-high 16.
Different gamers have proven flashes, too. Alaina Duncan, one other rising senior, had a 14-point sport earlier this season. And nonetheless others.
The ultimate chapter of the 2020-2021 season is but to be written. The guide might shut on this season on Friday. Or possibly it received’t. There’s a motive these video games are performed on the court docket and never on paper, in spite of everything. Beating Northview Academy looks as if a monumental problem for this Girl Highlander staff, however it doesn’t matter what occurs on Friday, that sport is not going to outline this season any greater than the general won-lost document defines this season. What defines this season is that the Girl Highlanders recorded probably the most district wins that they’ve had in 10 years, and their highest common season district end in 25 years.
What defines this season is the steps ahead that this staff has taken underneath its new head coach. It’s going to take a while to get to the place they wish to be. It’s not inconceivable that subsequent season may even be a slight step again, if Scott Excessive isn’t capable of change the purpose manufacturing of its seniors. However you don’t should have 20/20 imaginative and prescient to see the progress that’s being made in Huntsville. And it’s a enjoyable course of to look at unfold.
Oneida 87, Wartburg 30
You couldn’t assist however surprise: What occurs if Oneida enters Monday’s semifinal sport looking forward to Harriman. The Indians simply misplaced to the Blue Devils within the common season finale, and would really like nothing greater than to avenge that loss — which spoiled what would’ve been an undefeated common season in district play — within the district championship sport.
Positive, Oneida ought to care for its enterprise towards Wartburg. However the Indians, for no matter motive, have had extra video games which were comparatively shut towards District 3-A groups this season than one might need anticipated from a staff that has state championship aspirations. And, on the opposite finish of the court docket paces a man — Wartburg’s Joe Layne — who has lengthy been thought to be among the finest highschool basketball coaches in East Tennessee.
So what if?
These doubts have been shortly put to relaxation Monday night. Oneida got here out firing on all cylinders, and the sport was over earlier than it had hardly gotten began. It was 18-Three after the primary quarter. It was 47-12 by halftime. Anybody hoping for a dramatic, shut sport was completely disenchanted.
By the point the ultimate horn sounded, Oneida had completely demolished Wartburg, 87-30.
It’s not fairly often that you simply see a No. 1 vs. No. Four sport determined by a 57-point margin of victory. The truth that it occurred towards the staff that’s Oneida’s greatest basketball rival made Monday’s end result much more of a brow-raiser.
To place it into perspective, the most important margin of victory by both staff on this Oneida-Wartburg sequence previously 20 years, previous to Monday evening, was 39 factors. That was a Wartburg win over Oneida again in 2015. Oneida’s greatest win over Wartburg previously 20 years was 34 factors earlier this season. Previous to that it was 26 factors, means again in 2002.
The Indians’ 57-point win over Wartburg on Monday might nicely have been the most important win by both program on this sequence’ historical past. We are able to’t conclusively say that with out digging by way of the archives, however what we are able to conclusively say is that Oneida has now received eight in a row towards its greatest rival, relationship again to February 2018. And in case you’re questioning whether or not the Indians’ stranglehold on the district goes to decrease after they graduate their all-state duo of Nathan Bowling and Kolby Morgan? In all probability not. Within the fourth quarter, with each groups taking part in their children, the Indians out-scored Wartburg 17-1 to place an exclamation level on the victory.
It’s been exhausting to place a finger on why Oneida stumbled slightly bit because it neared the end line of the common season, with losses to York Institute and Campbell County along with Harriman. Some mentioned the Indians missed the power and hustle of Noah Buttram, who’s out with an harm. Some mentioned the issue is perhaps one thing else fully.
However no matter that downside might need been, it certain seemed just like the Indians had it found out on Monday, as they strolled to the dominating win. A staff that may win by 57 factors in a district semifinal sport is a staff that strikes worry into the hearts of opponents. The Indians’ subsequent opponent, Harriman, received’t be too scared; the Blue Devils have already confirmed they’ll beat Oneida. However can they do it if the Indians are firing on all cylinders? We’d discover out on Wednesday. A loss to the Blue Devils will surely give the Indians a little bit of a harder path to the state event. However, for now no less than, Oneida certain seems like a staff that’s set to make some noise in Murfreesboro subsequent month.
Scott Excessive 65, Alcoa 54
After the wheels got here off towards Fulton within the within the District 4-AA semifinals on Friday, a beat author for the Maryville Every day Occasions famous that Alcoa had some issues to repair earlier than shifting on to the district comfort sport.
As Monday’s third place sport moved by way of the second quarter, it certain seemed just like the Tornadoes hadn’t found out its damaged items. Scott Excessive was dominating the sport, up 20-2. With simply six minutes remaining earlier than halftime, the Tornadoes nonetheless hadn’t scored a discipline aim; their solely factors had come on a pair of free throws within the first quarter.
The ultimate six minutes of that second quarter seemed totally different. Alcoa battled again to place itself again into the sport, trailing by 10 on the half. However Scott Excessive went forward by 15 within the third quarter, then coasted to an 11-point win.
It was the Highlanders’ second win over Alcoa this season, however the final one required a desperation shot on the buzzer from close to mid-court simply to get to time beyond regulation. This time, Scott Excessive seemed very like one of many higher groups in Tennessee Class AA basketball, which is the place the Highlanders hoped they might be when late February rolled round.
Scott Excessive was coming off a 16-point loss to Kingston within the district semifinals on Friday. The Highlanders had rolled into that sport taking part in their finest basketball of the season, winners of eight consecutive video games. Possibly it was the rowdy crowd that packed the gymnasium in Roane County. Possibly it was merely Kingston’s all-state-caliber backcourt. No matter it was, the Yellow Jackets had Scott Excessive’s quantity, after the Highlanders had performed to inside a closing possession of Kingston throughout each of the groups’ common season conferences.
So it was good to see Scott Excessive bounce again in such grand style towards Alcoa. District 4-AA is without doubt one of the finest Class AA districts within the state — possibly the finest, prime to backside. The No. Four staff from this district ought to have a superb shot of happening the street to upset the District 3-AA champion on Saturday. Likewise, if District Four have been paired towards District 5-AA within the area event, it’s seemingly that the four-seed from District Four would have a fantastic probability to knock off the highest seed from District 5.
So Scott Excessive didn’t must beat Alcoa on Monday to place itself in rivalry to win a regional quarterfinal on Saturday. However profitable Monday’s sport certain didn’t damage. The Highlanders will now hit the street on Saturday having received 9 of their final 10, and presumably having regained a little bit of the arrogance they’d going into Friday’s district semifinal sport.
Scott Excessive’s seemingly vacation spot on Friday is Knox Carter, although the Hornets are taking part in nicely sufficient to upset Gatlinburg-Pittman in Tuesday’s District 3-AA championship sport. If Strawberry Plains is certainly Scott’s vacation spot this weekend, it’ll be a rematch of a sport that the Highlanders received on a Trey Morrow buzzer-beater final month.
Scott was lucky to flee Carter with a win final time. Morrow’s shot wasn’t a miss-and-go-to-overtime scenario. It was a miss-and-go-home state of affairs. However the Highlanders didn’t play significantly good basketball after they have been at Carter final time. They’re taking part in significantly higher basketball now, and would even perhaps be thought-about a slight favourite to win Saturday’s sport.
Whereas Carter may nonetheless win on Tuesday and ship Scott Excessive to Gatlinburg on Saturday, the truth that a Scott-Carter rematch is even a chance is intriguing. Carter sprung what many would’ve thought-about a large upset within the District Three semifinals, defeating Union County by 13. The Patriots had misplaced solely 5 video games all season, and whereas Carter defeated them by 5 again in mid December, Union County had rolled the Hornets by 30 factors simply a few weeks in the past.
If the Highlanders are capable of beat Carter (or Gatlinburg, because the case could also be) within the opening spherical of area play, Scott Excessive’s opponent within the area semifinals would most likely be Kingston. The Yellow Jackets will draw both Union County or Northview Academy — most likely Northview, relying on the end result of Tuesday’s third place sport in District 3 — on Saturday.
A grudge match between two bitter rivals with a substate berth on the road can be a enjoyable solution to carry this 2020-2021 basketball season to a climax. Earlier than that may even be seemed ahead to, each Scott and Kingston must win on Saturday, and that received’t be a straightforward activity — particularly for the Highlanders, who must do it on the street. Profitable on the street hasn’t confirmed straightforward for Tennessee highschool basketball groups this postseason (Scott Excessive was one in every of simply 11 street groups, out of 72 taking part in, to win on Monday). However the chance simply goes to indicate you: dropping within the district event isn’t an end-all in highschool basketball.
— to www.ihoneida.com