Soddy-Daisy almost frittered away a 15-point halftime lead, but managed to defeat host Grace Baptist Academy, 45-43, Thursday night.
The Golden Eagles had a chance to win at the buzzer, but senior guard Alex Hernandez’s 3-point shot hit the rim and bounced away to the sound of the final buzzer.
“The scoreboard doesn’t tell the truth,” Soddy-Daisy coach Kevin Templeton said. “The wrong team won. They outplayed us, outworked us and dominated the second half – the entire second half.
“They played the way we wanted to play.”
The Trojans (6-5) outscored the Eagles 7-0 to start the game and 11-0 opening the second quarter and built a 20-5 advantage.
This was going to be different than the first meeting, which the Trojans won, 48-39.
Tucker Landreth, who led the Trojans with 15 points after torching Signal Mountain for 33 points on Monday, scored six of Soddy-Daisy’s first 11 points and his 3-pointer with 5:02 remaining in the game provided a 40-34 lead.
But Soddy-Daisy managed just five points the rest of the way, including Landreth’s two free throws that gave the Trojans a 45-41 lead with 46.5 seconds left.
Grace’s Austin Powell, who finished with 11 points, scored on a layup after a Soddy-Daisy turnover near mid-court, and the Eagles were within 45-43 with 11.5 seconds on the clock.
Then, Grace, playing without three players who were on a school choir trip to Orlando, Fla., called a timeout.
When play resumed, the Eagles’ Aaron Tisdale fouled Landreth.
Landreth missed the front of a 1-and-1 free-throw with 9.8 seconds remaining.
In the hectic final seconds, Hernandez’s wide-open shot from the left wing was just off the mark as the game ended and provided the Trojans with their third consecutive win.
“If they make that last shot, it’s the ballgame,” Templeton said. “You never want it to come down to that.”
Said, Eagles coach Jon Mattheiss, “I thought the shot was down. It was straight. He had a nice looking rotation on it. It was just a little bit short. We couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity, and we created it, but (the shot) just didn’t fall for us.”
Grace (6-5), which trailed 26-15 at halftime, outscored the Trojans by 28-19 in the third and fourth quarters to put a scare into the visitors.
What happened at halftime?
“We yanked the starters in the first half and they got mad,” said Mattheiss, who will now catch up with his family in Hawaii over the Christmas break. “They came out in the second half and played much better. They were focused.”
Senior guard Josh Smith played as if guided by a laser.
Smith scored 12 of the Eagles’ first 16 points in the third quarter, including 3s to start and cap a 16-9 lead that trimmed Soddy-Daisy’s lead to 35-31 heading into the fourth quarter.
“I shoot a lot in this gym and it was just a matter of time before I started hitting some,” Smith said. “I’ve just got to shoot. We really played hard and a lot better in the second half. We started playing way better defense. We couldn’t get that one more shot that we needed to tie it up so we could get the momentum.”
A defensive wrinkle utilized by Grace bothered the Trojans.
Landreth certainly agreed with that.
“They changed to a defense we hadn’t seen,” Landreth said. “It took us a while to figure it out. It was a 1-3-1 zone, but they were really aggressive with that defense and it bothered us. If that last shot had gone in, that was on us (players).
“We never should have let them come back . We already had beaten them once and I guess we thought it would be easy this time. The win over Signal (Mountain) was big for us and I think we got big-headed. This teaches us a lot. We have to focus on every game no matter who we’re playing.”
Mattheiss explained his defensive strategy.
“It’s actually a 2-1-2, but we brought the top two guys up the court and pressured them,” said Mattheiss, who led the Eagles to the state tournament last season. “We were trying to double-team (Landreth), but he handled it pretty well. I guess you could call it an extended 2-1-2 that might’ve looked like a 1-3-1 to their guys.”
After Landreth’s 3 gave Soddy-Daisy the six-point lead with five minutes left, Hunter Shell’s putback of his own miss after an errant Landreth jumper put the Trojans ahead, 42-34.
Powell hit a jumper and Will Slack drove the lane for a layup – those two buckets came in a 25-second span – and the Eagles trailed by 42-38 at the 3:40 mark.
“They had us on our heels the entire second half,” Templeton said. “They contested our shooters, our rebounding was bad. We just didn’t rebound at all. But I’m not taking anything away from Grace. They did a good job.”
Soddy-Daisy girls 54, Grace Baptist 44: The Lady Trojans (7-5) had a 27-21 halftime lead and stayed one step ahead of the Lady Eagles (6-4) throughout the second half for the victory.
Sydney Orr and Mallory Wade each scored 13 points for Soddy-Daisy and Hannah Harris added nine points.
Sierra Nunley scored a game-high 18 points, including four 3-pointers, to pace Grace. Jessica Bonner and Erika Goodman each scored nine points.
Soddy-Daisy 16 11 14 13 – 54
Grace Baptist 12 9 11 12 – 44
Soddy-Daisy (54) – Harris 9, Hale 8, Sydney Orr 13, Mitchell 4, Smith 2, Ward 5, Mallory Wade 13, Phillips.
Grace Baptist (44) – Gill 2, Bonner 9, Goodman 9, Compton 6, Sierra Nunley 18, Carter, Ruefernaught.
3-Point Goals – Soddy-Daisy 4 (Hale 2, Orr, Ward); Grace Baptist 8 (Nunley 4, Compton 2, Goodman, Bonner).
Soddy-Daisy 9 17 9 10 – 45
Grace Baptist 5 10 16 12 – 43
Soddy-Daisy (45) – Shell 4, Floyd 6, York 4, Jeffries 9, Wright 6, Tucker Landreth 15, Amos 1.
Grace Baptist (43) – Slack 2, Hughes 2, Josh Smith 17, Tisdale 2, Godsey 9, Austin Powell 11, Matheny, Mason, Swanson.
3-Point Goals – Soddy-Daisy 5 (Landreth 3, Floyd 2); Grace Baptist 7 (Smith 3, Godsey 3, Powell).
(E-mail Larry Fleming at firstname.lastname@example.org)