Ooltewah JV Basketball Team Caps Impressive Unbeaten Season

High-Octane Owls Run Roughshod Over 14 Straight Opponents

Tuesday, February 12, 2013 - by Larry Fleming

“Good, better, best. Never let it rest. Until your good is better and your better is best.”

Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs

Ooltewah’s junior varsity basketball team never wanted to settle for anything less than perfection this season.

The Owls, coached by Andre Montgomery, a former scoring wizard at Notre Dame High School, capped a 14-0 record this past Friday with a 52-43 win over Bradley Central. That was one of just two games – both nine-point decisions – the Owls won by less than double-digit scores.

Along the way, Ooltewah posted lopsided victories by astonishing point spreads on a regular basis – 63 over Rhea County, 50 against Hardin Valley, 44 and 40 over McMinn County, 37 over Soddy-Daisy.

“Montgomery’s Marauders” were, quite simply, the best JV squad in District 5-AAA.

While the Owls were pouring in buckets, the team’s defense was smothering opponents at every turn.

In 63- and 37-point wins, Ooltewah held Rhea and Soddy-Daisy each to 26 points.

“Defensively, we were great,” said Montgomery, who played at Chattanooga State, Kennesaw State (Ga.) University and Tennessee Wesleyan following his  high-scoring career with the Fighting Irish. “We put a lot of pressure on the ball, scored a lot of easy baskets off defensive pressure. Once our guys bought into it defensively, everything else clicked.”

Montgomery, who as a senior at Notre Dame in 1994, averaged 29 points while backcourt mate Tommy Fox put up 34 per game as part of one of the state’s highest scoring tandems, used a pressure man-to-man defense a majority of the season.

Of late, the varsity and JV Owls tinkered with some zone schemes, but never strayed far from their man-to-man roots.

“Man defense is really got us to where we wanted to be,” Montgomery said. “Those guys wanted to play hard and used a lot of energy when it came to playing defense. It paid off for them.”

“There are really only two plays: Romeo and Juliet, and put the darn ball in the basket.” – Abe Lemons

On most occasions, the Owls lit up the scoreboard.

Ooltewah’s average margin of victory was 28.3 points. The Owls averaged 70 points and allowed 42. The team’s season-high was 92 points against McMinn County. The Owls reached the 80s twice and in their first three games set a tempo for the season by scoring 81, 92 and 89 points.

Their low offensive output was 47 points in a 15-point win over Tyner.

Every time on the court the Owls displayed a stop-us-if-you-can mentality and seldom did opponents have the ingredients to even slow them down.

Four players averaged double-figure scoring, led by sophomore Daaron Maston’s 13.1-point average. C.J. Fritz averaged 10.4 points, Jamycal Johnson 20.2 and Ron King 10. Anthony Turner (8.2), Jarek Boyd (7.2), Jamichael Wooden (6.7) and Edward Montgomery (6.5) rounded out the top-eight scorers.

Montgomery’s normal starting lineup consisted of the 5-foot-9-inch Fritz, 6-3 Wooden, 6-2 Maston, 6-0 Boyd and 5-11 Johnson.

“We had probably eight guys we could start,” said Montgomery, in his fourth season as an assistant on coach Jesse Nayadley’s staff. “We could interchange those guys at any time. And we played just about everybody because we were winning so big.”

The varsity Owls just wrapped up the district’s regular-season title and No. 1 seed for the tournament that starts Wednesday at Cleveland High School. In 2011-12, the Owls captured the Region 3-AAA championship, beating Bradley Central, 60-58, at Cumberland High in Crossville. They later advanced to the state tournament where they lost to Memphis Central, 67-54, at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro.

It was Ooltewah’s first state tournament appearance in 32 years.

“They say that nobody is perfect. Then they tell you practice makes perfect. I wish they’d make up their minds.” – Wilt Chamberlain

Last year’s Owls finished 27-5 and Nayadley’s current squad enters district play with a 16-8 overall mark. Ooltewah went 10-2 in district regular-season play.

So, the Owls’ program is rolling. The current varsity seniors went 16-2 as freshmen in Montgomery’s first year on Nayadley’s staff.

Like most varsity and JV programs, no matter the sport, the Owls’ programs are closely coordinated with the philosophy of the head coach and what he does.

“It’s the same,” Montgomery said. “We go ninth grade to varsity in trying to run our system here. That way, we can move kids in and out on varsity in case of injuries like we had earlier this year with Ben Snider (fractured hand). We moved Maston into the starting lineup and Anthony Turner went up to the varsity and they knew exactly what was going on up there.

“You never know what might happen and we also like to use it – the promotion – as a reward for guys who are playing hard, playing well.”

“If you meet the Buddha in the lane, feed him the ball.” – Phil Jackson

Montgomery, who is employed by the Tennessee Children’s Services Department and lives in Athens, Tenn., with his wife, Bonita, a quality engineer at Denso Manufacturing,  said this year’s JV has a nice blend of inside-outside players. Fritz, Johnson and King are guard types while Wooden, Maston and 6-4 Miles Cothran provide size down low.

Fritz and Maston are the offensive triggers. Wooden is the team’s top rebounder. Johnson is a defensively gifted player.

Outside play is hollow without inside presence. The Owls have an enviable mix.

Maston, who was on the same Ooltewah Middle School team as Wooden and Boyd, said the Owls never got overconfident in any game this season, despite the sometimes outlandish scores they ran up.

“We were always focused,” he said. “We knew we had to play hard in every game not matter who we were playing or the situation.”

And, he said, Montgomery had a lot to do with that.

“He’s a real fiery guy,” said Maston, who played guard and power forward. “He gets us going. If we’re down, he’ll talk to us and get us pumped, emotional and we got out there with more energy.”

As for the undefeated season, Maston said it’s a satisfying goal the team achieved.

“I don’t know if any of us had ever been on an unbeaten team before,” he said. “We practiced hard, got accustomed to each other and blended into a really good team.”

“If you’re going to take it to the bank, then you better cash it in.” – Shannon Fish

It has been an enjoyable JV season. With two juniors and the remaining players being sophomores on the JV roster, the Owls’ varsity program seems to be right on track for continued success.

“We were skilled offensively this year,” Montgomery said. “We had guys that shoot it pretty well. We translated a lot of points off our pressure defense. Just like my first team that had Antonio Jackson, Ty Presley, Andrew Ware and those guys, this group shows a lot of promise.”

That’s music to Nayadley’s ears.

(E-mail Larry Fleming at larryfleming44@gmail.com)


Friday Night Football Scores: Week Nine

Email your scores to  sports@chattanoogan.com . THURSDAY NIGHT FINAL: Monterey 50 Sale Creek 0 FRIDAY NIGHT FINALS: Copper Basin 38 Lookout Valley 0 Notre Dame 40 Coalfield 0 Boyd-Buchanan 24 Sequatchie County 14 Tyner 27 East Ridge 3 Hixson 33 Central 12 Bledsoe 33 Silverdale 7 Greeneville 31 Signal Mountain 10 Rhea County 42 East ... (click for more)

Christian Brothers Shuts Out Flames 2-0

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Surging Christian Brothers University handed the visiting Lee men's soccer team a 2-0 Gulf South Conference (GSC) defeat  on Friday  evening. It was the seventh straight victory by the Bucs who improved to 11-2 overall and 5-1 in conference play. The Flames dropped to 7-6-2 overall and 2-4-1 in league competition. Brendan Bennett put CBU on ... (click for more)

Additions And Improvements At Camp Jordan Arena Coming Soon

Additions and improvements are coming to Camp Jordan Arena in the near future. At the Thursday night meeting of the East Ridge city council, approval was given for buying new playground equipment. It will come from Gametime, a locally-based company. The VP of Marketing lives in East Ridge and made a proposal to set up the playground at Camp Jordan so his company could use it for ... (click for more)

Tribute Service For Luther Masingill Held At Historic Engel Stadium

It took a place as big as historic Engel Stadium for Chattanooga to say goodbye to their beloved Luther. Hundreds came Thursday afternoon to pay tribute to Luther Masingill who died early Monday morning after a radio career that spanned an amazing 74 years. It was clear from all who spoke that he was considered not only a radio personality, but also a role model. One after ... (click for more)

Not Everything Has Been Done To Save Hutcheson

I am a resident of Walker County and I have a personal belief that a hospital ranks equal to other basic services a community should offer (like police, fire, emergency services, school systems, government, etc.). I am not privy to all the management and financial conundrums concerning the feasibility of maintaining and growing Hutcheson, and as a private citizen I don’t believe ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: A Veterinarian’s Horse Sense

I suspect you’ve heard by now that a doctor in New York City, who volunteers with “Doctors Without Borders,” just got back from the African nation of Guinea on October 17 – last Friday – and on Thursday tested positive for the deadly Ebola virus. Luckily, he came in actual contact with only a few people but he reportedly rode a subway, took a taxi, went on a three-mile run and ... (click for more)