CHATTANOOGA, Tenn.–A hurricane hit McClellan Gymnasium Monday during the Martin Luther King, Jr. King of the Court Showcase as Triple-A power East Hamilton, currently ranked in the TSSN Statewide AAA Top 25, torched the Eagles, 75-52.
Junior guard Caden Mills led the charge in the fourth matchup of the day but could not finish the Hurricanes on his own. That would leave the Eagles with only their fourth loss of the season and only their second received blowout of the season.
“We got what we wanted out of it,” Van Buren County head coach Dustin Sullivan said. “Not necessarily the way we played. We hopefully would have shown better than that, but we wanted to play an athletic team that got up and down in transition, that pressured real hard so we could get better at handling it. That’s the takeaway. We’ve still got to get better at playing good athletic teams.”
CONTINUED BELOW GALLERY
East Hamilton same into the matchup with a 14-5 record with losses only coming against elite teams like Cleveland and Baylor. Still, Van Buren County was set to be a challenge for the Hurricanes.
“Van Buren County does such a great job of staying in their stuff, sticking to what they know,” Hurricanes head coach Rodney English said. “They run what they’re supposed to run. That’s something you don’t see everyday. Mills is just a really good player. And really good players that play in their system, you’re not going to stop them.”
East Hamilton took an early lead, but the Eagles stuck close throughout the first half and only trailed by 11 at halftime.
“I didn’t think we looked ready to play,” Sullivan said. “We came out and looked decent in the 3rd quarter for a minute, but your rotation changes a little bit when you have your really good guard out. I don’t think it was just one little thing. We didn’t do any of the stuff we talked about other than Caden. Caden was ready to play.”
Into the third period, the Eagles pushed an 11 point lead down to five at one point before East Hamilton regrouped and reformed their offense.
“We called a timeout so we could get our guys to stop focusing on the officials,” English said. We fouled them quite a bit right there. We got some free throws, and then they were able to get some shots on us. We we feeling sorry for ourselves a little bit and we had to get them to regroup. All we had to do was contain everyone but Mills and keep him from absolutely killing you. So we started some size and length today to make him and Binkley score over the top of us, not around us.”
The Hurricanes blew threw the 2nd half outscoring the Eagles 45-33 on their way to a 23-point win, opening for the McCallie-Calhoun matchup that would be the nightcap of the showcase. Mills led all scorers on both sides with 31 points on the night.
Van Buren County travels South Pittsburg Tuesday before a showdown with Valley rival Bledsoe County on Thursday in Pikeville.
EHHS — 16 | 14 | 22 | 23 || 75
VBHS — 8 | 11 | 16 | 17 || 52
EHHS (75) — Noah Fager (22), Davae Hughley (14), Justin Dozier (9), Drew Williams (9)
VBHS (52) — Caden Mills (31), Jared Binkley (7), Austin Miller (4)