DUNLAP, Tenn.–It took a last second foul and two free throws to do it, but the Indians, and hero of the night Noah Bartley, fought their way through second half woes and a 15-point comeback to take the victory over their Valley rival, 62-61.
The Warriors opened their home court for the first time this season and got a great down-to-the-wire show on the night cap in Jasper. They couldn’t pull out the tight game, though, which could mostly be attributed to lack of offense in the first half.
“It’s always a good game when you play Sequatchie County,” Marion County head coach Chuck Keef said. “They’re always physical, being a close rival. Honestly, we were just wanting to keep everything close, especially early.”
The Indians started out with a pretty close affair before taking off halfway through the 1st quarter by scoring 23 points. They would keep a pretty decent lead going into halftime where they led 38-23. It seemed as if the rocket was ready to come off the ground at any time.
“We couldn’t ever get ever get more than 15,” Indians head coach Jason Smith said. “We’d try to get that score up there, and they’d hit a big shot or a couple of shots and get it back down the 13 or 10 or 12. I was telling my assistant coach on the bench that we better be getting this thing to 20 or we’ll be having a some trouble.”
Coming into the second half, it more of the same dominance early before Marion County started an unprecedented run.
“Kane Hale, we didn’t know he could shoot like that,” Smith said. “He made a lot of shots. It was a physical game out there. The referees were letting us play a little bit. We’ve just got to do a better job of not shooting teams back into it.”
Sequatchie County’s margin fading faster and faster as the game went on. Hale and Nicq Ivory made some key shot, including some threes on the outside, as the Warriors brought their deficit down to single digits and then within a possession as the clock hit the 1:30 mark. Marion County tied it up at 58 all before the Indians hit a layup with less than a minute to go.
It was then that the heroics start, and ironically enough, they were initially for Bartley as Ivory hit a trifecta with about half a minute left in the ball game. The Indians created a turnover and the Warriors left empty-handed on free throw opportunities. After a timeout with 6 seconds left on the clock, it time for the Indians to steal the late-game heroics.
“I was telling my kids that we had plenty of time,” Smith said. “We were going to draw a play up, and we’re going to win or lose going to the rim. We had a double-stagger screen for Noah and created a one-on-one for him in the middle of the floor. He almost had an and-one coming, but he made both free throws and put us ahead.”
Making the game winning shot is one thing, but trying to sink a free throw to go ahead with virtually no time left is downright nerve-racking.
“In practice, I was told to be calm in moments like this,” Bartley said. “I wasn’t really that nervous as I thought I would be. I got up there and realized that I had made free throws before, so I did it the same way I shot the other ones. The free throw was probably more pressure because the game stops around you, so you have to calm down and shoot it. It was all good in the end, though.”
Bartley ended the night with 34 points sparking a new hashtag from teammates and cementing his place in the sometimes unnoticed Tuesday night heroics that happen in the great game of basketball
Sequatchie County travels to South Pittsburg on Friday while Marion County gets ready for tournament time with a matchup at St. Andrew’s-Sewannee on Thursday.
SCHS — 23 | 15 | 7 | 17 || 62
MCHS — 14 | 9 | 14 | 24 || 61
SCHS (62) — Noah Bartley (34), Braden Lawson (15), Jarrett Lynn (11), Tanner French (2)
MCHS (61) — Kane Hale (23), Nicq Ivory (16), Ty Heifner (12), Isaiah Sampson (6), Jacob Saylors (2), Jace Williams (2)