Bears come back to stay unbeaten
In a battle of two of the class teams of the Inter-Mountain Athletic Conference (IMAC) Friday night, the Sevier County Bears (8-0, 4-0 in District 2-AAA) staged a huge second half comeback to defeat the Jefferson County Patriots (7-5, 3-1) and remain undefeated on the season.
“We stepped up and did in the fourth quarter what we didn’t do in the first three quarters,” SCHS coach Ken Wright said.
“For the first three quarters we were out-played, out-hustled, out-worked and out-coached,” he continued.
“But in the fourth we stopped whining about bad calls, started playing the way we’re capable of and gave tremendous effort.”
After trailing by as many nine points late in the third quarter, the Bears — led by senior Devin Schmidt and junior point guard Jacob Whaley — rallied to win 50-47.
A 6-1 run to begin the fourth quarter — keyed by Schmidt, Logan McCarter and Cody Underwood — got the Purple and White to within one point at 39-38.
Seconds later Whaley hit a runner on a fast break to give the Bears their first lead since the game’s opening moments at 40-39, and SCHS never looked back.
Schmidt scored six of the Bears’ final 10 points — combined with buckets by Whaley and Weston Underwood — and Jefferson County never got back within two possessions until a desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer cut the final margin to 50-47.
In the game’s early-going, the Patriots were firing on all cylinders, and their physical style of play seemed to get into the Bears’ heads.
Jefferson County maintained a 3-5 point lead for most of the first two quarters, and that number increased to nine in the third as the Patriots’ Hayden Fritz, Chase McGhee and John Bryant consistently found ways to get to the basket and made open looks.
A three-point play on a marvelous spinning drive to the bucket by Schmidt late in the third, coupled with a 3-pointer from Whaley, cut the Patriots’ lead to six by the beginning of the final stanza.
“It’s great to have a learning experience where you still get the win, usually it’s not that way,” Wright said.
Schmidt led the team with 18 points, followed by 11 from Whaley, and 10 from Weston Underwood. Cody Underwood, with six points, and Logan McCarter, with five, were the Bears’ other players to crack the scorebook.
Fritz led Jefferson County with 12 points.
The girls contest was marred by turnovers and poor shooting throughout, but eventually the homestanding Lady Patriots (6-6, 2-2 in District 2-AAA) prevailed 36-34.
Missing star sophomore post Brittany Tarr, who suffered an injury in the team’s game against Morristown West last week, the Bearettes (4-4, 2-2) knew they had their work cut out for them, and it showed.
The team missed Tarr’s physicality, scoring and rebounding, and had difficulty finding the basket all night.
The team shot just 11-of-41 in the game, and turned the ball over an uncharacteristically high 24 times.
“WIth the turnovers and trouble rebounding — we can’t win that way,” SCHS coach Stacy Marine said. Despite their struggles, the Bearettes had several opportunities late to tie or go ahead, only to miss free throws or commit costly turnovers.
“And we made too many crucial mistakes,” Marine said.
The team also gave up offensive rebounds on two missed one-and-one free throws in crunch time, further compounding their troubles.
“You just can’t do stuff like that at the end of the game,” Marine said.
The Bearettes trailed 10-6 at halftime after a disastrous first half for both teams.
The game’s first basket didn’t come until nearly the midway point of the first quarter, when a Katlyn Davis 3-pointer finally got the Bearettes on the scoreboard.
Neither team scored again until the 6:25 mark of the second, when SC’s Wypych grabbed an offensive round and put it back in for a 5-0 SCHS lead.
The Jefferson County team then flared up on a 10-1 run, led by Autumn Dodson, who ended up the game’s high scorer with 18 points.
Kelsey Wypych led the Bearettes with 11 points, and her scoring late — combined with a pair of Davis 3-pointers in the final period — kept the game close until the end.
Davis finished with nine points for the Bearettes, all on 3-pointers. Taylor Chapman added eight, followed by Rachel Cole, Bri Miniard and Emily Campbell with two points each.