DUNLAP, Tenn.–If Signal Mountain’s goal was to play a game of keepaway, they succeeded Friday night.
The Indians, led by Noah Bartley’s 19-points, came out on top during the District 7-AA showdown, 57-41, after a slow, rocky start in Dunlap. The first half included one of the lowest-scoring of the season for both teams while the second half opened up to a track meet.
“They were trying to get us to guard them in man because they were struggling against the zone.” Indians head coach Jason Smith said. “I told them to stunt at them but not to go too far, and we overcommitted a couple of times.”
The visiting Eagles played at a meager pace for the first four minutes of the first quarter, but after breakdown in their game while trailing 9-2, coach Steve Redman made an unorthodox move. In fact, the move was as simple as it gets: hold the ball.
And although it may have looked like a lackluster decision, the Eagles eventually rode it to a 20-14 halftime lead.
“They were hoping to make us shoot long jumpers,” Smith said. “At halftime we talked about speeding it up when we could. We needed to go inside and feed our post guys, try to get them in foul trouble. We got some nice drive attacks and some putbacks. We missed some wide open shots, but we were making the right cuts.”
The lack of shot clocks in high school basketball was a big factor in the game as it led to Sequatchie County sputtering and losing momentum early, but later on in the game, a track meet ensued as the Eagles and Indians went back and forth without any hesitation or stalling for a good part of the second half.
“We posted Noah up in the second half,” Smith said. “He made some big outside shots. It was just the fact that we got the ball moving and got it into the gap. That was the main thing. It really wasn’t one person, but a combination of people. The three-pointers we made in the second half came off of the inside moves. We did a better job of moving inside-out in the second half.”
Sequatchie County pulled away late for a 57-41 win, but with the lack of a shot clock, it could have been much worse for the last-place Eagles. The idea of a shot clock in high school basketball is no stranger to the TSSAA circuits or Smith.
“We’re still dealing with amateurs,” Smith said. “I’ve heard a lot of people talk across the state about shot clocks, and how they justify it with teams taking the air out of it and stalling. That’s just apart of high school basketball. You can’t do those things in college because they have it.”
Still, the Indians didn’t have to rely on a jumper or miraculous shot to win the game, so the slow-tempo issues were easily overcome in the second half.
Sequatchie County hosts Marion County on Monday for a Valley showdown while the Eagles host Grundy County next Friday, February 3.
SMHS — 2 | 18 | 12 | 9 || 41
SCHS — 9 | 5 | 24 | 18 || 57
SMHS (41) — Owen Honroth (22), Kevin McCaffrey (9), Briston Reese (6)
SCHS (57) — Noah Bartley (19), Tanner French (13), Braden Lawson (10)