John Boehner’s “Plan B” on the fiscal cliff was an embarrassing flop.
Ooltewah coach Jesse Nayadley’s back-up plan worked extremely well Tuesday night.
With junior starter Ben Snider sidelined with a broken finger, Nayadley inserted sophomore Daaron Maston into the lineup.
Maston responded with 15 points, all coming on five 3s.
Nayadley also gave junior transfer Ron King his most extensive playing time of the season and the former Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe scored eight points in a 19-5 run that carried the Owls to a 66-50 victory over Soddy-Daisy.
With the win Ooltewah improved to 11-4 and remained atop the District 5-AAA standings at 6-0.
King, who didn’t dress for the Best of Prep tournament on Dec. 27-29, helped Ooltewah extend a 41-36 lead to a decisive 60-41 margin with 4:03 left in the game.
“It feels really good the way I played tonight,” said King, who played his freshman and sophomore seasons at LFO. “I’m proud of myself.”
After Maston drilled his fifth 3 from the left wing with 7:09 left, King went on his personal scoring binge. He got a dunk off a mid-court steal, made four straight free throws and capped it with a driving layup.
Antonio Jackson’s free throw 51 seconds later pushed the Owls’ lead to 60-41. The Trojans scored six straight points, but still trailed by 13 points and the Owls scored six of the game’s final eight points for the final 16-point margin.
“We’ve been working Ron in practice, but he hadn’t been playing in games at all,” Nayadley said. “After transferring, he’s still trying to learn what we do. It’s been hard for him to get into a game. I’d say he’s played two minutes all year before tonight.”
Maston has had much more playing time than King, but both players figured prominently in Tuesday’s victory, helping pick up the slack for Snider’s absence.
“Ron is hungry,” Nayadley said. “I dressed him tonight because Ben is hurt. Daaron started for Ben. Ron got up and down the floor. He brought us some energy. Some of our problem of late is we’re playing at the speed of our opponent. He went in there and played at his speed. He’s very fast and very athletic.”
King welcomed the court time.
“I am hungry to play,” he said. “I think I deserved to play some. I needed to hustle and did that. I feel really good about how I played.”
Snider broke a finger during a three-day pre-Christmas tournament at West Ashley High School in Charleston, S.C., but played all three games in the BOP tourney at Chattanooga State, scoring 33 points.
“The doctor said he had to have it in a cast in two weeks (after the injury occurred),” Nayadley said. “Ben chose to play in the Best of Preps. We knew we’d have a week off and this week is the second week. He goes back to the doctor next week and while it’s not a major break, it hurts our rhythm not having him out there.”
Soddy-Daisy coach Kevin Templeton saw up close the depth Nayadley, his counterpart, has at his disposal.
Ooltewah starters – Jackson, Robinson, Maston, Ty Presley and Andrew Ware – combined for 46 points. Reserves – King, Damir Hasanbegovic, C.J. Fritz, Jarek Boyd and Tucker Bass – added an additional 20.
King led the way with his season-high eight.
“They’re so deep,” Templeton said. “They lost some very talented players from last year and here they are. You have to respect that.”
Soddy-Daisy scored six straight points ending the first quarter and starting the second to take a 12-10 lead, its last advantage of the game.
The Owls went on a 16-4 run and led by 26-14 with 2:25 left in the first half. The Trojans sliced their deficit to 29-21 at halftime, getting a field goal by Andy Wright and a 3-pointer by Tucker Landreth in the final 1:20 before the break.
Soddy-Daisy outscored Ooltewah, 8-2, starting the third quarter and 42 seconds later pulled within 33-32 on Landreth’s 3 from the right wing.
The Owls scored eight of the game’s next 12 points and led by 41-36 with 2:49 remaining in the third quarter. The Owls’ eight points were spread among four players – Maston, Fritz and Presley, with Maston and Presley hitting 3s.
Robinson’s layup and two free throws – he finished with 12 points – and Maston’s 3 from the right-wing started the Owls’ game-deciding 19-5 run that left Soddy-Daisy in their rear-view mirror.
Jackson scored 13 points for the Owls.
“They’re so fast it’s like a track team,” Templeton said. “We had the tempo we wanted and were managing the clock OK. But they are so relentless. The pressure is on you all the time. For most people, when you have the ball you’re on the attack. Against Ooltewah, when you have the ball you spend a lot of time trying to protect it. They’re on offense when they’re playing defense.
“It’s a lot of fun to watch if you’re not coaching the other team. It’s stressful if you’re coaching the other team. I thought our kids played really hard. I wish we had been a little more intelligent at times, made a few more free throws and layups. I think they wore us down.”
Marshae Jeffries paced the Trojans (7-9, 1-4) with 13 points. James York added 12 points, Andy Wright had 11 and Landreth tossed in 10.
For two-plus quarters the Trojans went toe-to-toe with the Owls. Then, Ooltewah’s overall talent and depth took control and stymied Soddy-Daisy’s upset bid.
“Maybe it was tougher than it should have been, but not tougher than I thought it might be,” Nayadley said. “Over Christmas, we played really well in our first tournament and not well at all in the second. Our practices have been so-so. We’re going through a mid-season lull.
“I’m not overly upset with it, but if you could pick your time it would be now not later. We rotated a lot more players (tonight) because of Ben’s injury.”
While the team’s rhythm was a bit off, the Owls remained District 5-AAA’s only unbeaten squad. And the schedule picks up steam starting with Thursday’s game against Hardin Valley out of Knoxville.
“That will be a good non-district/district game,” Nayadley said. “Hardin Valley is like playing Bradley. That will be a good test for us.”
After Hardin Valley, Ooltewah plays McMinn County, Rhea County, Walker Valley, Bradley Central and Cleveland back-to-back-to-back.
“That’s the key stretch of the season for us,” Nayadley said.
Ooltewah girls 45, Soddy-Daisy 38: Leondra Barrett led the Lady Owls (3-12, 1-5), who broke an 11-game losing streak.
Calli Cross added 10 points for Ooltewah, which had a 35-23 lead after three quarters.
Mallory Wade scored a game-high 16 points for the Lady Trojans (8-7, 0-5). Hannah Harris scored 12 points.
Ooltewah 14 11 10 10 – 45
Soddy-Daisy 6 10 7 15 – 38
Ooltewah (45) – Calli Cross 10, Taylor, Cooper 8, Jones 4, Hall 1, Kennedy 4, Baker, Leondra Barrett 15, Young 2.
Soddy-Daisy (38) – Hannah Harris 12, Hale, Orr 6, Smith 4, Ward, Mitchell, King, Mallory Wade 16.
3-Point Goals – Ooltewah 3 (Cross 2, Cooper); Soddy-Daisy 1 (Wade).
Ooltewah 10 19 19 18 – 66
Soddy-Daisy 10 11 15 14 – 50
Ooltewah (66) – Antonio Jackson 13, Jacqueze Robinson 12, Ware 1, Daaron Maston 15, Presley 5, Hasanbegovic 2, Fritz 5, King 8, Boyd 2, Bass 3.
Soddy-Daisy (50) – Amos, Tucker Landreth 10, Andy Wright 11, Marshae Jeffries 13, James York 12, Floyd 2, Carter.
3-Point Goals – Ooltewah 8 (Maston 5, Presley, Fritz, Bass); Soddy-Daisy 3 (Landreth 2, Floyd).
(E-mail Larry Fleming at email@example.com)