Walters Stands Tall, Howard Reigns As 6-AA Champ

Tuesday, February 19, 2013 - by David Jenkins
-The veteran coaches of Tuesday night's District 6-AA finalists, Howard's Walt McGary and Brainerd's Robert High, have long taken pride in their teams' ability to play devastating man-to-man defense.

    But at some point in the fourth quarter of the teams' meeting at Hixson High School, the Panthers collectively forgot what brought them here. So as the final minutes dwindled off the clock, the top-seeded Hustlin' Tigers broke away for a deceptive 75-64 final.

    With Brandon Walters, their 6-foot-8 man-monster inside, doubling up with 25 points and 10 blocked shots, the Tigers earned their first district title in awhile.
Just don't ask McGary how long.

    "I don't keep up," said the former UTC standout. "I know we won the region last year but not the district."

    The Panthers opened up a 10-5 lead, but Howard quickly met the challenge and the second quarter saw a handful of lead changes. The Panthers' last lead was 15-14 on a drive and layup by dynamic sophomore Marques Tipton. But Howard's Shailique Cameron, having one of his best nights, took the lead right back with a steal and three-point conversion that sparked a 9-0 run that was backed by a pair of buckets by Cudjoe Young, the only sub Howard used Tuesday.

    Young, a junior, used the game a virtual coming-out party, scoring 14 points and bringing down the house with a steal on the wing off the man-to-man and subsequent dunk with 1:53 to play. That score was the figurative back-breaker, as it made the score 66-59 and an 11-3 run that put the car in the region garage.

    "We're a little bit short-handed right now," McGary explained. "Our first man off the bench LoRenzo McCauley has a sprained ankle and Rashad Brummitt had four teeth pulled. We should have both back for the next game.

    "We told them early that this was do or die time," the coach added. "We needed to play our man defense they way we know we can. But Cudjoe is an athlete, he was very dynamic and he gave us a tremendous lift tonight."
    
    "We didn't play our man defense down the stretch," said High. "I know how important it is to have a guy like that because I was lucky enough to have two -- C.J. (Black) and Malcolm (Mackey). I thought up to a point we did a really good job against their big man. But we didn't box out that well, and you can't afford that against this team."

    Complementing Walters' big night were Cameron (17 points) and Young (14). A big plus was also the Tigers' patience at the foul line: 16 of 20 (80 percent). The Panthers got 23 points from Tipton, including 10 in the fourth quarter. Tyree Stubbs delivered big off the bench once again, scoring 10 and making the all-tournament team.

    The Region 3-AA meeting, finalizing days, times and matchups, will be held this evening at McMinn County High, which will host the semis and finals.

'Rebuild' Now Officially 'Reload' For Lady 'Canes

    One evening during this past off-season, when East Hamilton girls basketball coach Derek Morris was feeling particularly sorry for himself, broke out his calculator and learned that he lost 86 percent of last year's offense to graduation.

    Tuesday night, after the Lady Hurricanes completed running the 6-AA table with a 57-51 championship victory over Howard, Morris could only shrug off that long-forgotten feeling of gloom and doom.

    "We managed to turn 'rebuild' into 'reload,'" Morris said as he packed away his third straight 6-AA championship plaque. "We had plenty of chances early tonight to build a big lead, but the way we shot free throws made it that much harder. Fortunately, in the second half we were more intense and the calls began evening themselves out."

    East Hamilton dodged disaster on several fronts and the team finished the game with three players owning four fouls. But the one player in the game who did foul out, Howard center NuQeilla Robinson, had been controlling the paint and her loss tipped a close game East Hamilton's favor.

    It was a one-point game, 45-44 in East Hamilton's favor, when Robinson took a seat for keeps. That allowed the Lady 'Canes to fill the lane on virtually every possession the rest of the way. Howard's determined Deroneasha Smartt, who scored her team's final 10 points, tried to single-handedly keep it close, but the game ended on an 18-7 run.

    Robinson doubled up with 12 points and 12 rebounds for Howard. East Hamilton spread out the production with 14 points for Jessica Caudle, 12 for Juliette Harp and 10 for Lexi Zackery. The win left East Hamilton 17-0 against 6-AA opponents for the season and extended their district win streak to 23 overall going to last season.

    East Hamilton will host Polk County Friday at time to be set Wednesday.    


District 6-AA Girls Championship

Howard        10    18    11    12    --    51
East Hamilton    13    14    12    18    --    57

    HOWARD (51) -- NeQeilla Robinson 12, Deroneasha Smartt 25, T. Rollins 9, King 3, Davis, Green 2, Eberhart.

    EAST HAMILTON (57) -- Jessica Caudle 14, Juliette Harp 12, Woods, K. Caudle 9, McCullum, Lexi Zackery 10, Moon 8, Wood 4.

    3-point goals: Howard 1 (Rollins); EH none. Records: Howard 16-8; East Hamilton 22-9.

District 6-AA Boys Championship
Brainerd    18    11    15    20    --    64
Howard        23    10    13    29    --    75

    BRAINERD (64) -- Besley 7, Marques Tipton 23, Otis 6, Glenn 5, Moore 5, Cooper 8, Tyree Stubbs 10.

    HOWARD (75) -- Smith 4, Shailique Cameron 17, Walton 6, Harris 9, Brandon Walters 25, Cudjoe Young 14, Norwood.

    3-point goals: Brainerd 4 (Tipton 3, Glenn); Howard 2 (Cameron, Walton). Records: Brainerd 14-12; Howard 23-5.



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