DUNLAP, Tenn.–It was tale of two halves as junior Caden Mills and company marched down the Valley to Indian territory on Monday night in search of a second straight win.
What they got, though was a tightly contested first half against a feisty Sequatchie County team.
“I was pretty upset at halftime,” Eagles head coach Dustin Sullivan said. “We were settling too much with outside shots instead of taking it to the basket. I felt like they really outworked us, out-hustled us, and just wanted it more than we did in that first half. We just tried to stress those things at halftime.”
On the other side of ball, experience, more than anything, helped the Indians hold down home court against a highly-touted Eagles squad.
“The experience we have lets them know where to be, knowing what pass to make,” Sequatchie County head coach Jason Smith said. “At times, we didn’t do a very good job of it in this game, but last year they got beat pretty bad. We actually had a chance in this one because they were making the right passes, attacking the gaps, and getting in position.”
Although it was a tight matchup throughout, the three ball was a big factor early as both teams’ opening baskets were from behind the arc. Sequatchie County’s Tanner French and Van Buren’s Jacob Crain both hit threes in the 1st quarter along with Noah Bartley. French, though, would put the Indians ahead on a last-second three at the end of the quarter.
Braden Lawson, Bo Walker, Dakota Simmons, Collin Hudson, and Jarrett Lynn would keep the three ball rolling in the second quarter as the trifecta almost occurred more than a layup. The score, though would end up at 30 apiece going into the locker room with 18 of Van Buren’s points coming from Caden Mills.
“Caden is a difference maker in every game,” Sullivan said. “He’s also the one that everybody’s trying to stop, too, so he understands how to get the ball to other people. We have a lot of good players on our team, but it’s just very beneficial that all these guys have played together that long. They feed off of each other.”
Mills would end the night with 27 points, all of which came from the post, but not before his team came back and rocked the glass in the second half.
“I felt like the intensity stepped up in the second half,” Sullivan said. “We were more active. We pulled down the rebounds a lot more. We stopped settling for threes. We started working inside out, trying to get a lot more 2-pointers.”
From there, the Eagles kept on trucking to the finish line barely stopping to smell the roses as they cruised to a 14-point win over the now 4-3 Indians.
“They went to State last year and their shooter’s about the only one that graduated,” Smith said. “And they’ve still got Mills, and Walker, and Binkley. We knew they were going to be tall. They’re long, and they can extend that 1-3-1 out. In the second half, they made some adjustments and really collapsed on us inside. And we let them have some open looks, and they’re too good of a team to have wide-open looks. We went from an 11-point lead to a 14-point loss.”
For the Eagles, they move to 7-2 on the season as they get ready for a matchup with region foe Richard Hardy on Tuesday. Sequatchie County falls to 4-3 on the season as they prepare for a Tuesday night trip to Marion County.
VBHS — 13 | 17 | 22 | 9 || 61
SCHS — 15 | 15 | 9 | 8 || 47
VBHS (61) — Caden Mills (27), Bo Walker (13), Sawyer Shockley (7), Jacob Crain (6), Jared Binkley (5), Dakota Simmons (3)
SCHS (47) — Jarrett Lynn (12), Braden Lawson (10), Tanner French (9), Noah Bartley (7), Barrett Lawson (6), Collin Hudson (3)
VBHS (6) — Bo Walker (2), Jacob Crain (2), Sawyer Shockley (1), Dakota Simmons (1)
SCHS (9) — Jarrett Lynn (3), Tanner French (3), Noah Bartley (1), Collin Hudson (1), Braden Lawson (1)
VBHS (15) — Caden Mills (9), Bo Walker (2), Jared Binkley (2), Sawyer Shockley (2)
SCHS (8) — Braden Lawson (3), Barrett Lawson (2), Noah Bartley (2), Jarrett Lynn (1)