Signal Mountain Rally Clips Upset-Minded CCS, 31-30

Eagles Secure Win With Frantic Comeback In Final Minute

Friday, January 17, 2014 - by John Hunt

They played a chess match at Chattanooga Christian on Friday night, but it was disguised as a high school basketball game between the visiting Signal Mountain Eagles and the host Chargers.

It turned out to be a pretty good game between two battling teams as Signal Mountain pulled ahead late and made it count in a 31-30 squeaker

The Eagles had a 7-5 lead when the first quarter ended, but the Chargers then took a 14-12 halftime lead when Nic Matthews hooked up with Josh Fikkert on a perfectly-executed alley-oop slam dunk at the buzzer.

Coleman Dirkse nailed a jumper from the wing to give CCS its biggest lead of the game at 20-14 with 2:09 left in the third.  A putback by Aaron Jones at the end of the period extended the CCS lead to 22-19, setting up what turned out to be a nail-biting final eight minutes.

Fikkert, the leading scorer for the Chargers who entered the game averaging 19 points per game, sank a short, left-handed hook in the lane with 6:53 to play as the home team's lead was 24-19.

Signal's Preston Elwell bagged a 3 from the wing to make it 24-22 before Fikkert scored again on a power move inside with 2:59 to go.

Luis Gutierrez, who scored all of his 10 points in the second half, canned another long one 20 seconds later to draw the Eagles to within one at 26-25.

Fikkert, who scored all eight of his team's points in the final quarter, sank the front end of a one-and-one with 1:40 to play before Gutierrez tied it at 27-apiece with a drive down the lane with 1:05 left.

Gutierrez then made the biggest steal of his life near the midcourt line and shuffled a pass to Elwell, who converted the layup for Signal's first lead of the second half with 43 seconds left.

Fikkert then hit the front end of another free throw situation to draw CCS to within 29-28 with 29.4 seconds left before Griffin Palmer sank both ends of a one-and-one with 19.8 seconds for a three-point advantage.

A turnover by the Chargers gave the ball back to the Eagles with 11.2 seconds left, but Fikkert stole the inbounds pass and hit a layup to draw his team within a point with four seconds left.

Gutierrez missed the front end of the bonus shot with four ticks left, but Matthews' half-court heave was long as the horn sounded to end the game.

"That was pretty fun, wasn't it?" said Signal Mountain coach Steve Redman after his team somehow pulled out the win, the Eagles now 13-6 overall and 5-1 in District 7-AA.

"We stole that one.  We didn't get the lead until the final minute, but ultimately, that's the only time it counts.  Chattanooga Christian did a great job of controlling the tempo, but the important thing is that we didn't get frustrated. 

"Our shots weren't falling, but a district win on the road doesn't have to be pretty. It seemed like they had the momentum the entire game, but it came down to a couple of plays.  A lot of stuff went against us in this game, but we still found a way to win," Redman added.

The game was played almost according to CCS coach Jim Arnold's plan.  The only difference was the ending didn't turn out as planned.

"It was close all night as we played our guts out the entire game," Arnold said after his team had dropped to 12-10 overall and 4-3 in 7-AA, good enough for third place in the district behind Bledsoe County and Signal Mountain.

"Games like this come down to which team is tough with the ball in key moments.  I think that they beat us in that regard there at the end.   We had a couple of turnovers and we missed some free throws, but they made some big shots at the end.  We also missed some critical layups late and you have to make those to win a game like this.

"It turned out to be a really good game.  I'm just sad that we lost," Arnold concluded.

Gutierrez was tops for the Eagles with 10 points while Elwell followed with eight and Palmer seven.

Fikkert was the leading scorer for the Chargers with 15 points while Ryan Rhodes was next with nine.

Both teams claimed 20 rebounds with Jack Teter grabbing seven for the Eagles and TaDarrius Hodge six.  Rhodes and Fikkert had seven and six, respectively, for the Chargers.

CCS GIRLS 46, SIGNAL MOUNTAIN 36: The first and third quarters turned out to be pivotal for the Lady Chargers as they outscored the Lady Eagles by a 26-12 margin in those two stanzas.

Joanna Smith scored 18 points to lead the winners while teammate Hannah Henry was next with 15.

Brooke Whitmire was the leading scorer for the Lady Eagles with 13 points while Aryn Sanders was also in double figures with 11.


SIGNAL MOUNTAIN      8  7  4  17  --  36

CHATTANOOGA CHRISTIAN   15  5  11  15  --  46

SIGNAL MOUNTAIN (36) -- Peterson, Sanders 11, Althaus, B. Whitmire 13, Bledsoe 2, M. Whitmire 6, McGowan, Boals 2.

CHATTANOOGA CHRISTIAN (46) -- Hughes 6, Delashmitt 2, Henry 15, Loyal 3, R. Farlett, S. Farlett, Balch, Smith 18, Dirkse, Royer 2.

3-POINT GOALS: Signal Mountain 3 (B. Whitmire 3); Chattanooga Christian 2 (Smith 2).


SIGNAL MOUNTAIN     7  5  7  12  --  31

CHATTANOOGA CHRISTIAN    5  9  8  8  --  30

SIGNAL MOUNTAIN (31) -- Nolen 2, Greer, Teter 2, Heinichen, Gutierrez 10, Palmer 7, Sowell, Hodge 2, Elwell 8.

CHATTANOOGA CHRISTIAN (30) -- Matthews, Rhodes 9, Jones 2, Card, Fikkert 15, Dirkse 2, Aldridge 2, Farlett.

3-POINT GOALS: Signal Mountain  5 (Gutierrez 2, Palmer, Elwell 2); Chattanooga Christian 3 (Rhodes 3).

(Email John Hunt at

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