WHITWELL, Tenn.–Both sides of the gender spectrum advanced in the Whitwell Christmas Tournament Wednesday morning, moving up to the midday slots on Thursday’s schedule.
Sale Creek’s platoons matched up with Sequatchie County to tip off the tourney as the Girls coasted to a 51-27 victory while the boys got the nod late 64-57 over the Panthers. The tournament features teams from the Valley to Coffee County, up to the Knoxville region, around Chattanooga, and down into the Peach State
Lady Indians Surge Past Sale Creek in Early-Bird Matchup
If you slept in on Wednesday, you probably missed a shellacking by Ronnie Davis and company as they trounced the Lady Panthers of Sale Creek 51-26 in the opening game of the Whitwell Christmas Tournament.
For the Lady Indians, though, it wasn’t the blowout it seemed as they continued to shake off the rust accumulated over the holiday break.
“We got to play some of our younger kids today,” Davis said. “But they’re still not playing with intensity. We’re scratching the surface of what we could be. It feels like we haven’t pressed the right button yet.”
Going into the 2nd quarter, the Lady Indians lead by only 6 against the one-win Panther squad, but with the pace of the game it a more commanding lead than it looked. Ireland Burch extended the lead at halftime with a 10-point quarter coupled with some key plays from Jordan Smith.
As the game went on, an almost voiceless Davis could relax as the margin kept rising and key players on the lower end of the depth chart started to click against the Lady Panthers. But at the end of the day, it’s another win to notch on an extremely impressive resume for Davis.
“I was at 985 wins this year–for girls basketball–coming in,” Davis said. “We’ve got to win 15 this season and we just notched no. 7. Of course, they never figured boys in, just the girls. I believe I went 45-48 in three years.”
And as Coach Ronnie Davis nears the 1000 win mark, he’s only concerned about one particular matchup: the next one.
“Both Lenoir City and Coffee County both have good teams,” Davis said. “Much better than Sale Creek. And with Lenoir City up next, we’ll have to play better. A lot of times we play up to the level of competition, or we’ll play down. So hopefully, we can play up.”
The Lady Indians take on Lenoir City at 12 PM on Thursday in the second round of the winner’s bracket.
Bartley, Dennis Lead Second Half Comeback Over Sale Creek
Sometimes basketball tournaments can be hundreds or even thousands of miles away. And sometimes the magic happens right down the street.
Two local programs took to a familiar court Wednesday morning and put on quite a game in only the second matchup of the Whitwell Christmas Tournament as Sequatchie County pulled past the Panthers of Sale Creek, 64-57. Both teams have already had appointments in Van Hooser Gymnasium this season against Whitwell.
That, though, had no effect on the holiday break sluggishness that ensued early.
“It’s been the since the 16th that we’ve actually played, so we haven’t played in a long time,” Indians head coach Jason Smith said. “Sale Creek played in a tournament they hosted last week, so they played three games. It’s tough to just practice because the kids just want to play. And I knew we were going to be a little rusty, but the second half, we played a little bit better.”
The Indians played close with the Panthers in the first half, but near the halftime buzzer, Sale Creek had a cushion going into the locker room. Noah Bartley had three three-pointers in the first half, but he and fellow teammate Evan Dennis picked up the slack in the 2nd half.
“We did a good job in the third quarter of coming back,” Smith said. “The three-ball got going there in the second half a little bit. We’re not a three-point shooting team. We’re going to try and drive it inside and then open some outside shots for threes. And hopefully we can knock some down. We don’t want to rely on it, but we’ll take it when it comes.”
Hitting a buzzer-beater at the end of the 3rd quarter may have been the only points from Dennis, but that wasn’t the true extent of his presence late in the ball game as the Indians overcame an eight point deficit to take the lead in a too-close-for-comfort ballgame.
“Evan Dennis came in and did a great job,” Smith said. “He got some deflections for us, created some turnovers. He made some great passes, and hit a big shot or two. I think we were a little more patient in that third quarter and knew what we were trying to do.”
Smith and company take on Howard Thursday at 1:30 PM in the midday slot on the tournament slate.