Red-hot Maryville deals Bears first defeat
A hot-shooting Maryville team meeting up with an ice cold Smoky Bears squad meant one thing for Sevier County — bad news for the Bears.
Previously-unbeaten SCHS (14-1) dropped its first contest of the season Friday night in the semifinals of the Renasant Bank Christmas Tournament to host Maryville High School, 54-44.
A miserable first half dug the Bears into a 15-point hole, which proved too deep, even for their talented squad.
Shots weren’t falling, passes weren’t finding their intended targets and Maryville’s shooters were finding plenty of space for wide open 3-pointers, leading to an embarrassing 27-12 deficit at the break.
“We just were stagnant,” SCHS coach Ken Wright said. “We stood around and looked like we were playing H-O-R-S-E the whole first half, and we can’t do that.
“When you shoot it as bad as we were, we needed to attack, and we weren’t attacking.”
In the fourth quarter, however, Sevier County rallied to close the lead to six points, 42-36, with a Jacob Whaley runner at the 3:40 mark.
A Dillon Cate 3-pointer a minute and a half later narrowed the gap to five at 44-39, but Sevier County would get no closer, as Maryville would convert big free throws down the stretch to seal the Rebel victory.
Big man Clark McCall hit a trio of threes in the first half, and that, coupled with another long bomb from guard Nick Myers, would help spark the Rebels to a 27-12 lead at half.
The Bears frigid shooting had built the team into a 24-7 hole with just over two minutes left in the second, until Schmidt pulled the string on a jumper and hit a 3-pointer to pull the squad to within 12 at 24-12.
But McCall, continuing his special half, drained his third 3-pointer of the half shortly before the intermission buzzer to put the halftime margin at 27-12.
Devin Schmidt, who came into the game averaging over 30 points in his last five games for the Bears, led the SCHS squad with 22, though it wasn’t his typical night. Jake Grosser added nine points for SCHS, while Dillon Cate had seven.
McCall led Maryville with 18 points.
The Bears will get another shot at home against the Rebels on Jan. 7.
“These guys have been great for 14 games,” Wright said.
“This is a hiccup. I don’t think it’s ever good to get a loss, but I’ve never had a team that went undefeated. Even the best team I’ve ever had was 33-1 (1995 Georgia state champs Westside High). We just hit a wall tonight. Our guys are better players than they played. We’ll bounce back, they’ll be fine.”
The Bears improved to 14-0 the night before with a hard-fought 60-52 win over Stone Memorial.
Though the SC team lead throughout, the Panthers (7-6), a state tournament team a year ago, put up a great fight.
Brock Rowan, the team’s sharp-shooting guard who led the Panthers with 21 points, fired in a pair of 3-pointers late to cut the SCHS lead to 51-48 with with 3:02 on the clock.
A 6-0 Bears’ run however, keyed by a key steal and assist from Jacob Whaley, put the Bears back up nine, 57-48, with just a minute to go.
Devin Schmidt — who had his fifth-straight incredible night for SCHS — sealed the game with an offensive rebound put-back of his own missed free throw in the game’s final seconds.
Schmidt finished with 26 points and 10 rebounds.
Senior bigman Brent Delozier was second in the Bears’ scorebook with 11 points. Whaley added 10 and Weston Underwood nine for the Smoky Bears.