DUNLAP, Tenn.–An average Monday night hardwood crowd might fill the home side in Dunlap, but when Bledsoe County comes to town, good luck finding a seat, let alone a place to stand.
In a rivalry that spans a multitude of sports and has stood the test of time through several generations, the night nor the standing in the district matter when two teams face-off in the Battle for the Stump. On the better end of the rivalry Monday night was Sequatchie County, who picked up the 66-48 over an upstart Bledsoe County squad that seemed to be clicking at just the right time.
“Most of our kids have been around it long enough to know,” Indians head coach Jason Smith said. “They know that this is a game of emotion. It doesn’t matter what the records are. It doesn’t matter what they did last time. This is a game where they want to beat us and we want to beat them, really bad.”
The Warriors nearly upset Sequatchie County back in January, just a day after they stunned Van Buren County. This time around, though, Bledsoe County struggled getting the ball through the hoop.
“We just couldn’t get shots,” Bledsoe County head coach Lucas Nunley said. “Basketball is an easy game when you can make it go in that little cylinder. If you can’t make it go in, it becomes a very difficult game.”
The twin towers, Braden and Barrett Lawson, got some shots early in the 1st quarter, combining for eight of the 18 points scored in that period. The Indians led 18-10 going into the 2nd. Bledsoe County’s Riley Meloncon scored 11 in the first half before ending with 22 on the night.
The Indians went into the locker room with a 9-point lead before taking off again in the 2nd half.
“Alec Hudson came in and bothered Meloncon a little bit,” Smith explained. “Braden and Barrett, they fought through foul trouble and finished the baskets. They controlled the boards and played some great defense in there. A lot of people came up and did a lot of things for us.”
The Indians would eventually explode in the 4th quarter with Barrett Lawson and Noah Bartley putting up 15 of the last 19 points in the game for the 66-48 victory and the Stump Sweep for the 2016-2017 season.
“You just know this is the biggest crowd these guys are going to get, even on a Monday night,” Smith said, referring to the rivalry. “This is like the games you see on TV with the packed-out house. A lot of the teams I talk to in Chattanooga, they have no where near a crowd this size. It’s one of the longest basketball rivalries around.”
Smith may be seasoned and have a lot of experience in the rivalry, but Nunley is still a rookie when it comes to The Stump.
“This game bothers the kids way more than it bothers me,” Nunley said. “I haven’t shed much blood on it yet. It’s sort of like another district game to us. It’s another game to me. It’s not that big in my eyes yet.”
The win cements Sequatchie County in 2nd place in the 7-AA standings while keeping Bledsoe County in the No. 3 spot with their tie-breaker over Grundy County. The Indians travel to Van Buren County Tuesday night while the Warriors host South Pittsburg in a duo of Valley showdowns.
SCHS — 18 | 14 | 15 | 19 || 66
BCHS — 10 | 13 | 15 | 10 || 48
SCHS (65) — Noah Bartley (18), Tanner French (16), Barrett Lawson (13)
BCHS (58) — Riley Meloncon (22), Cole Angel (6), Trail Hyatte (6)