Wildcats end Bears’ season at sectional
The last Sevier County basketball team standing finally took a seat one game shy of the state tournament.
The Sevier County High School Smoky Bears (28-6) briefly entertained ideas of a Class AAA sectional upset at Oak Ridge (28-5) on Monday night, but the homestanding Wildcats woke up in the second quarter and went on to dominate most of the night en route to a big 61-45 win.
“Our guys fought,” SCHS coach Ken Wright said, summing up the evening. “But I just didn’t like the parts (of the game) when we just didn’t play very well.
“We were looking for some guys who could throw it to someone in the right colored jersey, and apparently that was a problem for us.”
The Bears came out of the gates strong by earning two first quarter leads when senior Weston Underwood hit a trey to make it 3-2 with 7:13 and junior Jacob Whaley sniped a 3-pointer to make it 8-7 with 4:31.
And the Purple and White trailed by just one point, 13-12, heading into the second after senior Logan McCarter grabbed a long rebound and drained a 15-footer to close the first-period scoring.
But that’s as good as it would get for the Smoky Bears the rest of the night.
The Bears, who trailed by as many as 18 points in the third, did make a push to get back into it when a Sevier County fan was ejected from the gymnasium. The ejected fan left peacefully enough, but not before swinging his fists in encouragement to the Smoky Bear players, a move that seemed to electrify the Sevier County faithful in the stands and players on the court.
Sevier County immediately started a push that cut it to single-digits twice in the third when Underwood hit 1-of-2 from the stripe to make it 44-35 with 1:50 and when Whaley sniped a trey from the corner to make it 46-38 with 1:21.
But Oak Ridge’s Jaylin Henderson answered right back with a 3-pointer of his own to make double-digits again, 49-38, heading into the fourth.
“Anytime we made a run, they had someone step up and hit a 3,” said Wright. “And that’s what good teams do.”
Oak Ridge went on to lead by as many as 21 points in the fourth before the Bears cut it slightly to the 16-point final in some extended garbage time.
Junior Cody Underwood led SCHS with 10 points, McCarter had nine, Whaley had eight, freshman Austin Pope had seven, Weston Underwood had six, senior Dillon Cate had three, and sophomore Ethan Loveday had a deuce in the loss.
Henderson led Oak Ridge and all scorers with 20 points, Rashad Gray added 11, Cory Fagan had 10, Rian Hall and Isaac Merian had nine apiece, and Ted Mitchell had a deuce in the win.
The 28 wins the Bears accumulated this season are the most ever for an SCHS boys team.