McMinn County roared into Soddy-Daisy on Tuesday night and blasted the Trojans and Lady Trojans lop-sided victories in District 5-3A high school basketball action.
The Cherokees (3-5, 3-0) blitzed the Trojans (3-5, 1-2) early to build a 26-14 halftime lead, built a 20-point lead and cruised to an impressive 58-30 victory.
The earlier game was even more one-sided as the Lady Cherokees made six 3-pointers in their first seven shots, routed the Lady Trojans, 56-19, and improved to 5-1 overall and 2-1 in district play.
McMinn’s girls finished the game with 12 made 3s, four by Kaitlynn Hennessee and pressured Soddy-Daisy into 26 turnovers, 11 in the first quarter when the visitors zipped into a 21-2 advantage.
“We really played good defensively,” McMinn County boys’ coach Ed Clendenen said after the blowout win.
“We didn’t break down and hurt ourselves and made enough shots to get the win.”
Jake Elkins, a junior 5-foot-11 wing, paced the Cherokees with a game-high 16 points and was a pivotal scoring in the Tribe’s 20-12 spree that pushed a 12-point halftime lead into a comfortable 46-26 margin heading into the fourth period.
Included in McMinn’s decisive run were Elkins’ two 3-pointers and a put-back basket that capped the spurt. Sam Hammonds, senior point guard, drained a 3 and drove the lane for another bucket and senior Taurean Jones added a 3.
Elkins made four of the Cherokees’ eight 3s, nailing two each in the second and third quarters. Hammonds had two 3s and McMinn got one each from Blake Hicks and Jones.
“We’ve been more of an outside shooting team this season,” Clendenen said. “Soddy-Daisy tried to take that away, but we shot the ball pretty good.”
The Trojans didn’t reach McMinn’s first-quarter point production until Jalan Render dropped in two free throws with 1:24 left in the first half.
“Bad basketball,” Soddy-Daisy coach Bill Eller said, in a barely audible voice. “We had no fire in us. It was a very flat effort and we had been doing better, but took two steps backward tonight.”
Eller wasn’t about to detract what Clendenen’s squad did to the Trojans.
“McMinn played the kind of game we needed to play,” he said. “We just didn’t do that tonight. McMinn played much more physical than us and we’ve got Cleveland coming in here (Wednesday).”
Eller was referring to Cleveland’s Blue Raiders, who are 4-2 overall and 2-0 in district action. The game was postponed from last Friday due to inclement weather.
Of note in Cleveland’s two league wins is a 66-42 blowout of East Hamilton, a state tournament team in 2017 and the preseason pick to win the district this season. The Blue Raiders’ other district win was a 79-33 rout of county rival Walker Valley.
Sam Hammonds and Matt Eaton each had 10 points for the Cherokees.
Hunter Burke was Soddy-Daisy’s leading scorer with 11 points.
In the girls’ opener, the Lady Cherokees snapped the suspense out of the game within the first six-plus minutes and most of the damage came from long-distance shooting.
McMinn drained six 3s in the first quarter, two by senior Emily Liner. Hennessee and Kaylen Hicks, both seniors, and sophomores Whitney Green and Paige Manney each made one shot from behind the arc. Hennessee and Hicks each connected on 3s in the second period as the Lady Cherokees extended the lead to 32-7 at halftime.
Hennessee finished with 16 points, all coming in the first three quarters.
Summer Ghaffari paced the Lady Trojans with seven points.
McMinn County 21 11 15 9 – 56
Soddy-Daisy 2 7 6 4 – 19
McMinn County (56) – Pickel, Liner 8, Burns 4, Kaitlynn Hennessee 14, Green 7, Manney 8, Hicks 9, Schiestel, Sitzler, Baxter 3, Gleaton 3.
Soddy-Daisy (19) – Dent 6, M. Davis, Kearney, Ghaffari 7, Trimiar 3, Branum, Prestwood, Hall 2, Hamby 1, B. Davis.
3-Point Goals – McMinn County 12 (Hennessee 4, Liner 2, Manney 2, Hicks 2, Green 1, Baxter 1), Soddy-Daisy 1 (Ghaffari 1).
McMinn County 11 15 20 12 – 58
Soddy-Daisy 6 8 12 4 – 30
McMInn County (58) – Evans 2, Bradley, Sam Hammonds 10, Matt Eaton 10, Wilson 4, Runyan, Johnson, Jake Elkins 16, Hicks 3, Brown, Jones 9, Buckner 4.
Soddy-Daisy (30) – Perez 2, Branam 2, Massingale 2, Colton, Render 3, Davis 5, Hunter Burke 11, Jackson, Reid, Ricketts, Volker 5.
3-Point Goals – McMinn County 8 (Elkins 4, Hammons 2, Hicks 1, Jones 1), Soddy-Daisy 1 (Volker 1).
(Contact Larry Fleming at email@example.com and on Twitter @larryfleming44)