EVENSVILLE –Sequatchie County couldn’t match up with Baylor’s matchup zone defense Thursday night.
Now the Red Raiders have to try and match the talent and athleticism of the Glenwood School Gators, the 2013 Alabama Independent School Association Class 3A state champion.
Baylor’s zone started covering the Indians like a blanket, holding them to 18 points over the final three periods, and the Red Raiders – they scored 18 points in the second quarter – walked off with a crushing 60-35 victory in the Holiday Hoops Shootout at Rhea County High School.
The Red Raiders (4-2), coming off an impressive home-court win over Bradley Central on Tuesday, trailed 17-14 after the first quarter, but outscored the Indians (4-8) 46-18 over the final 24 minutes and cruised to the victory in a game played in the Rhea Middle School gym, just a long 3-point shot from the Golden Eagles’ new facility at the same complex.
“Sequatchie County did some nice things against our trap in the first quarter,” Red Raiders coach Austin Clark said. “We lost a couple of guys and they scored some points. After that, we shut them down, got some steals for some easy scores and they started missing some shots.”
Baylor now braces for a different animal in Friday’s semifinal against Glenwood at 4:30 p.m. at the high school gym.
Glenwood, a small private school with an enrollment of 200 students in grades nine through 12, played right after the Red Raiders and delivered an 89-66 haymaker to Hixson while getting double-figure scoring from five players.
Like Sequatchie County, the Wildcats (4-6) were in good shape after eight-minutes of play only to see the Gators (8-1) outscore them 17-3 – a 3 by Justice Alameda was Hixson’s only bucket in the period – to open a 41-21 halftime advantage.
“Playing different competition is the reason we’re up here,” said coach Dusty Perdue, who led the Gators to a 29-3 record and the school’s third state title last season. “The GISA in Alabama has 55 schools and we’re always playing the same teams. We’re here with the attitude that we don’t care about who we’re playing, we’re concerned about making Glenwood better.”
If Thursday night was a true indicator, the fast-moving Gators, who add length to their size advantage over most teams, are already pretty darn good.
Baylor’s got a lot to deal with.
The Red Raiders field a team of players pretty much in the same height range of 5-foot-11 to 6-foot-1. The Gators’ front line of Alex Hicks, Tanner Thomason and Trip Day stands 6-9, 6-8 and 6-6, respectively.
Those three players combined for 47 points.
Hicks signed with Western Carolina, Thomason is likely headed for Lincoln Memorial and Day, who had a career night with 19 points and 11 rebounds, is a freshman.
Before turning its attention to Glenwood, located just across the Chattahoochee River from Columbus, Ga., and traveled four hours and 264 miles to participate in the tournament, Baylor had to disrupt the Indians.
When Tyler Grant hit a 3 from the right corner the Indians went up 13-8. After Riley Dempsey’s free throw Baylor’s Matt Clendenen made back-to-back baskets to tie the game at 14-all. Austin McGowan hit a 3 with 2.9 seconds on the clock and Sequatchie County was up 17-14 when the period ended.
The rest of the game belonged to Baylor.
The Red Raiders went on a 14-1 run to open the second quarter, shot out to a 28-18 lead and was still up by 10 points at halftime.
A disastrous third quarter turned the game into a rout.
Hixson’s Christian Harden’s putback started the scoring, but Baylor scored 10 straight points. Following Chandler Abbott’s 3 the Red Raiders got a tip-in by Gage Upshaw and two free throws from Clendenen and led, 46-27, after three quarters.
Tyler Seaberg and Dazz Riggins each had four points in the final quarter and the Red Raiders were able to maintain a 20- to 25-point lead down the stretch.
Clendenen led Baylor with 16 points and Upshaw added 11. Ten Red Raiders scored in the game.
“Our depth is some of the best I’ve ever had,” Clark said. “I can go eight, nine, 10 deep easy. Last year I was going six or seven deep. We have to keep coming with pressure defense and did that tonight although our angles were not as good as they should be.”
McGowan paced the Indians with nine points.
“We held the ball too much and let Baylor trap us,” Indians coach Jason Smith said. “We didn’t attack the gaps enough and they brought good pressure with their half-court traps and we didn’t get quick reverses against it.”
Smith pointed out another factor in the one-sided loss.
“We shot 7-for-35 on twos and that will kill you,” he said. “We missed shots we should have made and got in a bind.”
Thomason scored 10 of his 15 points in the first quarter, including 10 in a row, and capped the spree with a dunk to give the Gators a 14-10 lead.
Alameda, a 5-5 point guard, was dazzling the talented Gators with a barrage of high-arcing 3-pointers. Two came in the first quarter and he also converted three free throws when fouled on one attempt behind the arc.
Alameda opened the third quarter with consecutive field goals and finished the game with 22 points, including five of the Wildcats’ eight 3s.
“He played hard,” Disbrow said. “He’s a hustle player with a tremendous heart. There is not one ounce of quit in the kid. Here’s a 5-5 kid who wasn’t afraid to shoot against 6-9 kids that Glenwood had out there.”
But Alameda and Chandler Abbott, who had 14 points and made three 3s, simply were not enough to offset the splendid firepower the Gators had on the court.
Guard Ant Holtzclaw scored 17 points for the Gators. Hicks had 13 points and J.T. Thomas added 12.
“Day is a heady player,” said Perdue, who has been at Glenwood for nine years, seven as the head coach. “Alex is a difference maker and Tanner could be a major college prospect if he shot well more consistently.”
Perdue likes taking his teams to Tennessee for holiday tournaments. He’s been to Knoxville Grace Christian, Sevier County twice and now to Evensville.
The coach lost three starters from last year’s state title team, but four of his five starters this time around are veteran seniors, and they played like it.
Abbott’s 3 with 4:21 left cut into the Gators’ commanding lead at 51-29.
Glenwood 14 of the game’s next 17 points and stretched the margin to 65-32 and the pace didn’t slow down when Perdue went to his bench in the fourth quarter when Alameda made two more 3s.
“They could compete in our district (6-AA),” Disbrow said. “They were really good and they’re long and bouncey. We were hesitant to challenge their big men and that played right into their hands. Glenwood was amazing going after blocks without fouling.”
Clark watched a quarter of the Glenwood-Hixson game before leaving.
Perdue got a look at Baylor while waiting to play the Wildcats.
“Baylor is really fundamentally sound,” he said. “They don’t make many mistakes.”
In girls action, host Rhea County trounced East Ridge, 54-16, and once-beaten Cannon County clipped Sequatchie County, 58-47.
Rhea County’s Madison Rader led all scorers with 21 points, 18 coming on six 3s. Amber Levi had 10 points.
Kyanna Kendrick scored five points for East Ridge.
Cannon County (13-1), riding a five-game winning streak, bot 20 points from Abbey Sissom, including three 3s. Madison Walkup added 14 points.
The Lady Indians (10-4) were led by Kelly Frederick’s 22 points and Kaylee Smith tossed in 11, including two 3s.
Baylor 14 18 14 14 – 60
Sequatchie County 17 5 5 8 – 35
Baylor (60) – Matt Clendenen 16, Giussani 9, Lupas 4, Gage Upshaw 11, King 9, Maize 1, Brogdon, Seaberg 4, Strawter, Jump 2, Riggins 4.
Sequatchie County (35) – Grant 8, McGowan 9, Turner, Harmon 3, Dempsey 8, Ba. Lawson, Br. Lawson 2, Bartley 2, Hudson, Cordell 3.
3-Point Goals: Baylor 5 (Giussani 2, Upshaw 2, King); Sequatchie County 4 (McGowan 3, Grant).
Glenwood School 24 17 26 22 – 89
Hixson 18 3 18 27 – 66
Glenwood School (89) – Ant Holtzclaw 17, J.T. Thomas 12, Alex Hicks 13, Davis, Beck 2, Humphries 8, Melton, Trip Day 19, Tanner Thomason 15, Dykes 3.
Hixson (66) – Justice Alameda 22, Nelson 4, Smith 2, Beatty 4, Carver 3, Cooper 7, Glass 2, Diaz, Parker, Chandler Abbott 14, Condra, Weaver 4, Harden 3, Coleman 2.
3-Point Goals: Glenwood School 2 (Thomas 2); Hixson – 10 (Alameda 5, Abbott 3, Cooper 2).
Rhea County 14 17 11 12 – 54
East Ridge 4 4 5 3 – 16
Rhea County (54) – Revis 6, Loden 4, Freeman 2, Wallis 3, Brown 8, Amber Levi 10, Madison Rader 21.
East Ridge (16) – Murphy 3, Martin 4, Billingsley 4, Kyanna Kendrick 5.
3-Point Goals: Rhea County 8 (Rader 6, Revis 2); East Ridge 1 (Murphy).
Cannon County 18 17 17 6 – 58
Sequatchie County 10 11 14 12 – 47
Cannon County (58) – Abbey Sissom 20, Maynard, Clements 4, Hale, McReynolds 6, Madison Walkup 14, Faulkner 8, King 6.
Sequatchie County (47) – Kelly Frederick 22, Kaylee Smith 11, Davenport 3, Adams 3, Burch 8, Tholken, J. Smith, Hobbs.
3-Point Goals: Cannon County 3 (Sissom 3); Sequatchie County 4 (K. Smith 2, Davenport, Adams).
(E-mail Larry Fleming at email@example.com)