Eagles break 7-game streak
The last seven games may have added a few years worth of grey to Seymour head coach Brian Jessie’s beard.
But finally, Tuesday night, the coach got a dose of sweet relief.
His Eagles, mired in a seven-game losing streak, played just well enough to escape South-Doyle with a 54-53 victory and finally get the monkey off their collective backs.
“I’m really happy for the kids,” Jessie said following the narrow victory. “They keep playing hard — and that’s what I love about this team. We’ve talked about life’s like that sometimes — you keep working, or you give up. Keep working worked out for us.”
Seymour never trailed in the game, and, behind outstanding work on the glass and scoring from D.J. Griffin, the Eagles led by 10 points, 35-25, midway through the third quarter.
But a big run by the Cherokees, sparked by sophomore Jocquez Bruce, turned things around in a hurry.
By the 4:00 mark of the fourth, the lead had been pared down to one, 46-45.
“He’s a player,” Jessie said of Bruce. “We tried to keep him in front and did the best we could — I though Peyton Lee did a good job with him, before he got in foul trouble — but he’s just one of those guys, sort of like (Sevier County’s) Devin (Schmidt), you’ll never really stop him, you just want to contain him.”
A 6-0 run pushed the Eagles back out to 52-45, but South-Doyle wouldn’t quit.
Cherokees big-man Jacob Elliott and Bruce scored five-straight for the home team, narrowing the gap back to 52-50 with :33 left.
Just when it looked as though the Eagles had put it away from the free throw line, leading 54-50 as time was expiring, South-Doyle hit a huge three with :08 left to get it back to a one-point game.
Though the Eagles would miss two free throws just moments later, South-Doyle couldn’t get a game winning shot on their last chance, and Seymour escaped with the win.
Griffin led the Eagles with 21 points, and added a plethora of rebounds, though no official rebounding stats were kept.
“We challenged D.J. the last couple of games, and I thought he’s brought it,” Jessie said. “It’s his senior year, and that’s what seniors do. I’m really proud of him.”
Gunner Gibson also played well for the Eagles, putting in 14 points.
Bruce led South-Doyle with 17.
The Seymour Lady Eagles (16-10, 9-4) were also victorious in south Knoxville, knocking off the Lady Cherokees (4-14, 1-10) 50-28.
After leading by just 10 heading into the final quarter, the Lady Eagles turned it on late, outscoring South-Doyle 17-5 over the final eight minutes.
Senior Kasey Norman led all scorers with 18 points, while Victoria Nelson added eight. Mariah Flynn, Lexi Justus and Peyton King had six each, while Cheyenne King had four and Reid Ballard netted two.
Around the county
Sevier County’s teams split contests at Cocke County with the Fighting Cocks and Lady Red.
The Smoky Bears (22-3, 11-2) won a knock-down, drag out battle with the CCHS boys (14-9, 6-5) 49-48, though the team lost two more players to injury as both Brent Delozier and Dillon Cate left the game hurt.
“It was really physical,” SCHS coach Ken Wright said. “There were a lot of fouls that were over the line. They were trying to make our kids pay when they went ot the basket and there’s no place for that in high school basketball. (But) we were able to hold on and get out of there.”
Devin Schmidt’s 18 points led the Bears, while senior teammate Logan McCarter continued his improved play with 13 points.
The Bearettes (11-14, 6-7) played District 2-AAA-leading Cocke County (15-9, 10-1) to the wire, but ultimately fell 45-41.
Brittany Tarr led the Sevier County comeback effort with 14 points, while teammate Taylor Chapman tallied 12.
At Pigeon Forge the homestanding Tigers teams lost a pair of contests to visiting Grainger.
The Lady Tigers (12-7, 5-4 in District 3-AA) gave the state’s No. 1 Lady Grizzlies (24-0 overall) all they wanted, however, in a 47-45 loss.
Coach Paul Reagan’s girls had the game within one point in the final minute, but couldn’t get any of their go-ahead shot attempts to fall late.
“We had our chances,” Reagan said. “But heck, I’m proud of them.”
Mikayla Trombly (16) and Mindy Brackins (15) combined for 31 points in the game.
The Tigers boys team fell 81-69 to the Grizzlies.