Soddy-Daisy’s Trojans blew most of a nine-point, second-half lead Tuesday night against visiting Signal Mountain, but the gutty Trojans hung on for a 59-51 non-district win before a lively season-opening crowd.
Signal Mountain gained a split of the varsity double-header by knocking off the Lady Trojans, 52-46, behind an 18-point performance by Brooke Whitmire.
Junior wing Andy Wright scored a game-high 23 points, including three 3-pointers, to lead the Trojans to the victory that gave coach Reid Daniels victory in his first game coaching the team.
“This is a special group of seniors, who are close friends,” Daniels said. “This year our motto is ‘Carry It Forward.’ The starters did a great job tonight, but we trust our bench. We tell those guys that when they’re on the court we don’t want them just holding the status quo. We want them to push us forward.”
The Trojans (1-0) came into the gym in high gear and they were still in that tempo when the final seconds were ticking off the clock.
Soddy-Daisy had a five-point lead after three quarters, but the Eagles (1-2) kept pecking away and trimmed their deficit to 44-43 on a 3-pointer. The Trojans’ James York, who finished with 11 points, answered with a 3 and the Eagles’ Luis Guiterrez, who is trying to get football out of his system, drained a 3 to pull Signal Mountain to within 47-46 with 3:03 remaining.
“We missed nine layups and Soddy-Daisy hit their free throws down the stretch,” Eagles coach Steven Redman said. “This was our first game with the football kids back with us and we didn’t really execute very well. We were running a lot of people in and out trying to find out what everybody was supposed to do.
“Our effort was OK, but our execution was just terrible. We’ll be all right later in the season.”
With their lead down to one point, the Trojans got two free throws and a put-back goal by Wright to stretch the margin to 51-46 with 2:28 left in the game.
Signal Mountain’s Lannom Sowell, a 6-foot-7-inch, 240-pound senior and one of the football players who just joined the squad, made 1-of-2 free throws. The Trojans’ Tucker Landreth, who battled cramps in the second half, and Wright each made one free throw 29 seconds apart and the lead with to 53-47 with only 75 seconds left on the clock.
“That comes back to leadership,” said Daniels, who succeeded Kevin Templeton at the Trojans’ helm. Tucker is a steadying influence for our team. He’s our point guard and when we’re being pressured he can handle the ball well and is able to get by those defenders and get us in our sets.”
Wright’s field goal at the 2:28 mark was the last Soddy-Daisy bucket of the game. The Trojans hit 8-of-14 free throws in the final 2:05 – only once did they make two straight tosses and sophomore Tre Carter did that with 24.4 seconds to go.
The Trojans wound up hitting 15-of-27 from the stripe and Wright, Landreth and Carter combined to make 14 of 22.
Tucker and Carter each scored 10 points.
Signal Mountain went 16 of 22 from the free-throw line, with Guiterrez going 4-for-4 and Austin Nolan 4-for-6, his only points in the game. However, Nolan made two free throws in the final 68 seconds.
Despite going without a point over the final 3:52 of the third quarter, the Trojans still led 38-33 heading into the final eight minutes. That’s because the Eagles managed just four points in the last 4 minutes, 4 seconds of the quarter.
“We have a lot of guys that are going to play,” Redman said. “We don’t necessarily have a lot of guys who have played a lot. We have a lot of juniors and seniors, but they’re young in terms of experience.”
A year ago, Soddy-Daisy might not have won a game like Tuesday’s. The team has rediscovered its mettle, the Trojans have bought into what Daniels is selling and the level of intensity was high from the opening tip to the final horn.
“I’m not sure about that,” Wright said, “but I do think a lot of the loose balls we got tonight we wouldn’t have gotten last year. It all goes back to the hustle thing.”
Griffin Palmer scored 10 points for Signal Mountain.
In the girls game, Soddy-Daisy’s Hannah Harris drove the lane for back-to-back layups, giving the Trojans their second lead at 17-16. Signal Mountain’s Kelsey McGowan hit a field goal and Aryn Sanders, who scored 17 points, hit two straight shots and the Lady Eagles went ahead, 22-17.
The Lady Trojans’ Morgan Hopkins opened the third-quarter scoring to cut the Lady Eagles’ lead to 38-33. Brooke Whitmire drained a 3-pointer from the left wing, hit a driving layup and Sanders came back with two free throws and Signal Mountain was out front, 45-33, with 4:38 remaining.
Soddy-Daisy could get no closer than six points the rest of the way.
“We started two freshmen, two sophomores and a junior,” Signal Mountain coach Jason Hill said. “One of our seniors (Anna Althaus) is out with a knee injury – she tore the ACL in her other knee last year and was just cleared to play last week and hurt the opposite knee Thursday against Silverdale.
“We had to throw some freshmen in there earlier than we wanted, but I thought they played well.”
Lydia Bledsoe added 11 points for the Lady Eagles (1-2).
Soddy-Daisy (0-1) was led by Harris’ 11 points.
“It was an exciting game,” first-year Lady Trojans head coach Drew Lyness said. “I loved the way we played. In years past there were times our girls would quit. I was glad to see us fight to the end tonight.
“We cut a 12-point lead down to four and that was great to see.”
Signal Mountain 8 19 11 14 – 52
Soddy-Daisy 5 15 11 15 – 46
Signal Mountain (52) – Peterson 2, Allen 2, Aryn Sanders 17, M. Whitmire 6, Brooke Whitmire 18, Lydia Bledsoe 11, Heisser 2, McGowan 2, Boals 2.
Soddy-Daisy (46) – Hannah Harris 11, Hale 3, Hopkins 8, Sims, Smith 7, King 7, Ward, Phillips 4, Hancock, Woodward, Wade 6.
3-Point Goals: Signal Mountain 2 (Sanders, B.Whitmire); Soddy-Daisy 2 (Hale, Wade).
Signal Mountain 13 10 10 18 – 51
Soddy-Daisy 15 12 11 19 – 59
Signal Mountain (51) – Nolan 4, Greer, Teeter 6, Allison, Heinichen 2, Luis Guiterrez 11, Griffin Palmer 10, Sowell 7, Hodge 2, Elwell 9.
Soddy-Daisy (59) – Amos 2, Tucker Landreth 10, Tre Carter 10, Andy Wright 23, Jeffries, James York 11, Floyd 3, Whymer.
3-Point Goals: Signal Mountain 3 (Elwell 2, Guiterrez); Soddy-Daisy 6 (Wright 3, Landreth 2, York).
(E-mail Larry Fleming at email@example.com)