With all the Memphis teams in town and shoving an early afternoon snow out of the way, day two of inaugural East-West Classic got into full swing at East Hamilton School on Friday.
However, for Fayette-Ware the day was anything but easy.
Team seniors had to turn in senior projects before leaving on a 5 1/2 – bus ride to Chattanooga.
The Wildcats checked into their hotel, 30 minutes later drove to East Hamilton and then squared off against Oak Ridge in the last of six games on the schedule.
“Considering all we had to do to get here and to beat a good Oak Ridge team, I’ll take it,” Wildcats coach Marcus Stokes said. “That’s a good team over there, they’re well-coached and I think we were a little intimidated by their name.”
The two teams scrapped the entire 32 minutes and the outcome was in doubt until the final 1 minute and 42 seconds when the Wildcats pulled into a seven-point lead and eventually knocked off the Oak Ridge Wildcats, 68-61.
“This is a nice facility and I love this East-West thing,” Stokes said. “It’s a good opportunity to come here and get away from our home city and bond.”
In other games boys’ games, host East Hamilton raced to a 29-8 first-quarter lead and crushed Oakhaven, 81-34, and Bolton edged Bradley Central 66-60.
“I wish the weather hadn’t hit us today,” East Hamilton coach Rodney English said. “We pre-sold a lot of tickets (about 300) and when we let school out early a lot of the kids had to catch a bus or get home with their parents. I think some people that would have come later possibly stayed home too.”
Inclement weather didn’t factor into Bolton coach Harold Scott voicing his approval for East Hamilton coaches putting together the classic.
“I try to focus my guys on understanding there are different styles of play in the different sections of our state,” Scott said. “The west is predominantly transition basketball. There is a lot of half-court basketball in the east section and I think some of both in the middle section.
“What we have here is a clash of styles. We don’t get this in Memphis unless we play private schools. I like what we’re seeing here.”
There were also three girls’ games on the card.
Unbeaten Bradley Central (7-0) overcame an offensive-challenged stretch when Kentucky signee Rhyne Howard sat out about six minutes after being whacked across the face by a Houston player and won going away, 59-43, in a game that ended a little more than chippy on the floor.
That game pitted Howard and Houston’s Jayla Hemingway, who were Miss Basketball runners-up in the 2016-17 season.
East Hamilton, also undefeated, turned a 30-20 deficit into a 46-32 advantage over a 4-minute, 50-second stretch and finally won its 12th straight game, 52-40, over Notre Dame. The Lady Irish were last-minute substitutes, so to speak, for the classic after Fayette-Ware’s girls backed out.
And Arlington needed an overtime period before turning back Oak Ridge, 56-52.
The classic resumes on Saturday with five more games, but the action shifts to Cleveland and Bradley Central’s Jim Smiddy Arena. (See the complete schedule below.)
East Hamilton boys 81, Oakhaven 34: The Hurricanes (8-2) turned their game against Oakhaven (1-3) in a clinic in total domination of an opponent. Coach Rodney English’s squad went into the game having worried about itself and not Oakhaven.
As it turned out, the ‘Canes saw little resistance from the Memphis visitors.
East Hamilton led 29-8 after one quarter, was up 46-26 at halftime and limited Oakhaven to eight second-half points.
“I was impressed with the way we moved the ball, with our defensive pressure and the way we got after the ball,” said William Andrews, who finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds.
“We can tell when our pressure defense is confusion teams and that defense usually leads to good things on offense.”
Cameron Montgomery led the ‘Canes with 18 points on 5-of-11 shooting and 8 for 8 from the free-throw line where the team went 24 for 36, compared to 5 of 12 for Oakhaven. Justin Dozier added 10 points and was 5 for 6 from the field.
East Hamilton, which lost to eventual champion Memphis East in the 2016-17 Class 3A state tournament, out-rebounded Oakhaven 54-30 and forced 28 turnovers, nine by Cameron Howard. The ‘Canes also had 23 steals, six by Sam Randolph.
“We didn’t play to the best of our abilities against Cleveland (a 66-42 loss on Dec. 1),” Montgomery said. “It’s important that we show we can compete, we won’t be an easy win for any team and gain respect in Southeast Tennessee.”
East Hamilton went into the game almost blind as to knowledge of what Oakhaven would bring to the table. It’s the second time English has used the tactic this season, Rhea County being the first.
“It’s more of a tourney thing for us,” English said. “We’re going to worry about us and I’m proud of my guys for their focus on our goals for this game. We wanted to get at least 12 turnovers in the first half, we got 14. We wanted to limit them to 26 points, and they had 26. We wanted to limit them to 36 points, they got 34. So, it was good that we met those goals.”
Further evidence of East Hamilton’s dominance were these stats: The ‘Canes had a 52-10 scoring advantage in the paint; a 29-2 edge on points in the paint; 24-2 in fast-break points; a 39-0 difference in bench scoring and 15-4 on second-chance points.
Howard paced Oakhaven’s offense with 13 points, nine coming in the first half.
Bradley Central girls 59, Houston 43: The Bearettes were up 33-19 when Howard was hit in the left eye by Houston’s Melisa Carter less than a minute into the third quarter. When Howard walked back on the court the Lady Mustangs trailed 39-30.
Howard drained a right-wing shot to stretch the margin to 41-30. A 3 and a steal-and-drive bucket by Hemingway and Carter’s layup sliced the Bearettes’ lead to 41-39.
Bradley outscored the Lady Mustangs 18-4 over the final 5:32 to cruise to the hard-earned victory.
“Things started quickly in our favor,” Bearettes coach Jason Reuter said. “We were up by 14 at the half, but I knew we might run into some adversity at some point. There were two Miss Basketball runners-up on the floor and I’m biased, but I think mine is the best one.
“Houston smelled a little blood with our MVP on the bench after being poked in the eye things were a little chippy. They were playing us as physical as the refs would let them. I’m proud of the girls tonight. It was a Mona Lisa win, but not many are.”
Bradley hit 16 of 25 free throws in the game and went 9 for 12 over the last 1:49. The Bearettes' last field goal came on Howard’s short bank shot with 3:02 remaining.
A foul on Houston’s Madison Griggs and then a quick technical on Carter on the same play gave Alexis Barnes an opportunity to make four free throws. She dropped in three and Bradley had a 55-41 cushion.
Howard finished with 18 points on 7-of-18 shooting and nine rebounds. Kaleigh Hughes had 14 points that included four of the Bearettes’ nine 3-pointers. She was 5 for 8 from the field. Hannah Lombard scored 10 points and pulled down nine rebounds, helping Bradley to a 45-30 edge in that category.
“I’m not worried about my record,” Reuter said. “I want these girls to use this classic to get better by playing some good teams. I hope they continue the classic. It’s good for this area.
Another area in which the Bearettes hurt the Lady Mustangs was with a 30-9 advantage in bench scoring.
Griggs and Hemingway each scored 12 points for Houston (5-2).
East Hamilton girls 52, Notre Dame 40: The Lady Irish (6-4) rode their hot hand, Kate Ford, to a 30-20 lead midway through the third quarter. Ford, who finished with a game-high 27 points on 9-of-12 shooting (5 of 7 behind the 3-point arc).
Then state-ranked East Hamilton (12-0) turned up the defensive heat, forced Notre Dame into mistakes off bad decisions and changed the game’s momentum with a 15-0 run that eventually reached 26-4 and cruised to its 12th straight win to open the season.
The Lady Hurricanes beat Houston 61-45 on Thursday to open the three-day classic.
East Hamilton capped the game-changing spurt with three straight 3-pointers, the first and second by senior Hailey Abernathy, sandwiching one by Maleiah Moon.
“Absolutely huge,” said Lady Canes coach Hunter Gremore, referring to Abernathy’s long-distance bombs. “This was a typical letdown game after battling hard last night and turning around 12 or 13 hours later to play again.”
When Madison Hayes made a layup with 64 seconds left in the third period, East Hamilton went ahead 31-30, its first lead since 5-4 just over two minutes into the game.
Ford had given the Lady Irish the 30-20 lead by hitting three buckets – two 3s and a two-point shot – to start the third period. Notre Dame, who played Chattanooga Christian in a district game Thursday night, didn’t score over the next 5 minutes and 23 seconds, Kee Kee Ball ending the drought with a shot from the lane early in the fourth quarter.
The Lady Canes scored 24 points – a lot of those in the pivotal run ending the third and starting the fourth quarters – off 30 Lady Irish turnovers.
“We usually don’t get anywhere close to that many,” Gremore said. “We had a hard time scoring, but when we started playing good pressure defense that helped us with the offense.”
Madison Hayes paced the Lady Canes with 19 points, adding eight rebounds, six steals and four assists.
Abernathy only had six points, but they were important points as East Hamilton pulled away.
“Last year I had a breakout game against Chattanooga Christian in the MLK game at UT-Chattanooga,” Abernathy said. “I gained confidence in that game. When we were down 30-20, I had faith in our team that we could come back. We didn’t have our heads down and didn’t show fear.”
Hayes thought Abernathy’s shots were beneficial to the Lady Canes offensive surge as well.
“Before we started coming back from being 10 points down, you could tell everyone was getting frustrated, including me,” Hayes said. “We started gaining confidence and I was really glad Hailey hit those shots.
“We pressured (Lady Irish) and that threw them off a little bit and we got some turnovers. That’s when we started scoring.”
Notre Dame coach Jason Hill credited East Hamilton’s defensive pressure for changing the game.
“We didn’t handle their pressure and that caused a lot of turnovers from bad decisions,” he said. “Our transition defense was not good at all. As for Kate Ford, we kind of go as she goes. She hit some big shots and then they put Madison on her. Madison’s height disrupted what we had been doing and took our momentum away.”
Arlington girls 56, Oak Ridge 52: Arlington never led in regulation, twice tying the score at 48-28 and 50-all in the final minute.
The Lady Wildcats (3-3) went ahead in overtime on fastbreak layup with 3:14 remaining, but missed the ensuing free throw.
Arlington’s Taylor Lattimore tied the game at 52-52 with a layup. Nya Stewart gave Arlington (5-3) its first lead at 54-52 at the 2:03 mark. Stewart hit 1 of 2 free throws. Karlee Bates missed a pair and Caitlyn Wilson made one for the final four-point victory
“This was huge for us,” Arlington coach Wes Shappley said. “We have lost to three very good teams, but we’ve battled all year. We were down by nine at half and we told the girls they had to go out and set the tempo in the first four minutes of the third quarter.
“I can use 10 girls and they’re tough, seasoned kids who have played some hard-nosed basketball. I’m extremely proud of their perseverance.”
The outcome was really decided on two factors. Arlington outscored Oak Ridge 15-4 on fastbreaks and had a 16-0 advantage off the bench.
Lanetta Williams paced Arlington with 16 points and 17 rebounds, 14 coming on the defensive boards. Wilson and Lattimore each had 10 points.
Both teams shot 37.7 (20 for 53) from the field, the Lady Wildcats had a slight 39-36 rebounding edge, but Arlington got 23 points off 27 turnovers compared to 15 for Oak Ridge.
“Playing over here is the best thing for us,” Shappley said. “Oak Ridge is the first team this year to consistently back-door us. We have two wins by 50-plus points and two by 30-plus. The difference here is the atmosphere and you have to do just about everything right down the stretch to have a chance.
“We’ve seen up-and-down teams all season, but the discipline by Oak Ridge today was something different.”
Bolton boys 66, Bradley Central 60: The Bears were able to weather Bolton’s 32-point first quarter blitz, but still trailed 46-32 at halftime.
Bolton (6-1) used tremendous balance to keep the lead throughout the rest of the game.
Cory Griggs and Decorian Kelly each had 18 points, Javian Wiley scored 12 and Jaylon Gloster closed with 10.
That foursome combined to make 19-of-48 shots and pull down 17 rebounds.
“These guys are learning to play within the system,” said Bolton coach Harold Scott, who has been at the school for 11 years, the last four as head coach. “We usually start slow but tonight wet set a precedent for the rest of the game with that first quarter.
“But defense is what we do best, it’s how we play and when we’re at our best, in transition.”
Bolton forced 31 turnovers, including six by Ashton Boyd and five apiece by Saylor Clark, Tyler Ferguson and Jared Elrod.
Taye Cobb paced the Bears (2-4) with 20 points and 14 rebounds, 10 on the defensive boards. Elrod finished with 15 points.
Early in the fourth period, Elrod made a layup and the Bears were within 53-50. Bolton pushed the margin out to seven on Kelly’s three free throws. Boyd drilled a 3 and Lameric Tucker dropped in two free throws and the Bears pulled to within 57-55.
Gloster sank a bucket and the margin was four.
In their next three possessions, the Bears were called for two three-second lane violations by Cobb and Tyler Ferguson and Tucker missed a free throw. Gloster hit two free throws to put Bradley (1-4) down 61-55.
Elrod hit a field goal, Cobb a free throw and Griggs made one of two free throws ahead of Tucker’s driving layup and Bradley was back to within two points at 62-60.
Bolton’s Wiley and Ramon Ryan each tossed in two free throws to provide the final six-point margin.
Fayette-Ware boys 68, Oak Ridge 61: In one of the better games of the day was a battle of Wildcats as the two teams share the same nickname.
Fayette-Ware (7-1) led 30-26 at halftime and nursed a shaky 41-40 lead into the final quarter.
Oak Ridge (5-1) trailed 54-48 with 3:44 left, but went on a mini 6-2 run – Marcus Smith hit a free throw and a 3 in the spree – and was down 56-54 with 2:21 showing.
The West Tennessee version of Wildcats scored five quick points, a free throw and baskets by Quarterrius York and Jaylon Taylor, for a seven-point margin and then connected on 7-of-8 free throws – Tre Thomas was 4 for – and salted away the win.
Taylor scored 18 points, Yates 17 and York 10 to lead the Fayette-Ware offense. Chavis had six points and 10 rebounds for a team that had a 40-20 margin for in-the-paint points and an overwhelming 45-2 advantage in bench scoring.
Oak Ridge dropped a 63-60 to Memphis East in last season's Class 3A state semifinals. Memphis East also ousted the Wildcats in the 2014-15 state quarterfinals and also lost in the 2013-14 championship game to Blackman, 60-58.
Chick-fil-A is the primary sponsor of the East-West Classic.
Notre Dame 11 11 8 10 – 40
East Hamilton 5 13 16 18 – 52
Notre Dame (40) – Sheppard, Kate Ford 27, Rabvano, Sparks 2, Johnson 7, Alvarado, Brown, Ball 2, Raabe, Sims, Bird.
East Hamilton (52) – Moon 8, Lacy 7, Suttles 7, Madison Hayes 19, Zeh, Patton, Medley, M. Hayes, Johnson, Petitt 3, Abernathy 6, Laboo 2.
3-Point Goals – Notre Dame 5 (Ford 5), East Hamilton 5 (M. Hayes 2, Abernathy 2, Petitt 1).
Oakhaven 8 18 6 2 – 34
East Hamilton 29 17 23 12 – 81
Oakhaven (34) – House 7, Parker 6, McLaurin, Williams 8, Howard 13, Jackson, Weatherall, Fifer.
East Hamilton (81) – Wilson 3, Andrew Williams 15, Hughley 6, Justin Dozier 11, Schramm 8, Cameron Montgomery 18, S. Randolph 9, Rogers, D. Randolph 4, Johnson 6, Hammett, Harris 2, Crawford.
3-Point Goals – Oakhaven 5 (Howard 3, Parker 2), East Hamilton 1 (Wilson 1).
Arlington 9 18 10 13 6 – 56
Oak Ridge 19 17 8 6 2 – 52
Arlington (56) – Hill 2, Stewart 6, Caitlyn Wilson 10, Lanetta Williams 16, Bates 4, Taylor Lattimore 10, Nichols 6, Ca. Taylor, Shanklin, Grandberry, Ch. Taylor.
Oak Ridge (52) – Desiree Bates 12, Shatyrah Copeland 17, Jada Guinn 15, Golden 4, Dowdell 4, Dunbar, Dean.
3-Point Goals – Arlington 2 (Stewart 1, Lattimore 1), Oak Ridge 2 (Bates 2) .
Bradley Central 17 15 14 14 – 60
Bolton 32 14 7 13 – 66
Bradley Central (60) – Clark 6, Tucker 6, Ferguson 9, Taye Cobb 20, Jared Elrod 15, Boyd 3, Wesley, Rothwell 1, Greene.
Bolton (66) – Cory Griggs 18, Decorian Kelly 18, Javian Wiley 12, Jaylon Gloster 10, Littlejohn, Thompson, Mead, Gaines 2, Robertson, Ryan 4, Crockett 2, Taylor.
3-Point Goals – Bradley Central 4 (Elrod 2, Ferguson 1, Boyd 1), Bolton 4 (Wiley 2, Griggs 1, Kelly 1).
Houston 11 8 13 11 – 43
Bradley Central 19 14 8 18 – 59
Houston (43) – Jayla Hemingway 12, Gary, Madison Griggs 12, Wells 4, Carter 6, Ken. Trice, Davis 5, Kel. Trice 4 .
Bradley Central (59) – Kaleigh Hughes 14, Roberts, Blair, Hannah Lombard 10, Williams, Reuter, Mayo 7, Rhyne Howard 18, Barnes 5, Carmen, Hullender, Muhonen.
3-Point Goals – Houston 5 (Griggs 4, Hemingway 1), Bradley Central 9 (Hughes 4, Howard 2, Walker 1, Lombard 1, Mayo 1).
Fayette-Ware 13 17 11 27 – 68
Oak Ridge 13 13 14 21 – 61
Fayette-Ware (68) – Freeman, A. Maclin 2, Quarterrius York 10, Waddel 3, Watkins 8, Jaylon Taylor 18, Tre Yates 17, C. Maclin 4, Ricks 6, S. Maclin, Hayes, Jones.
Oak Ridge (61) – Marcus Smith 15, JaVonte Thomas 11, Levert Smith 22, Kesterson 8, S. Smith 3, Johnson 2, Stewart, Angle.
3-Point Goals – Fayette-Ware 2 (Waddel 1, Yates 1), Oak Ridge 9 (Smith 4, Kesterson 2, M. Smith 1, Thomas 1).
At Bradley Central High School
1:30 p.m. – Bolton boys vs. Oak Ridge
3 p.m. – Houston girls vs. Oak Ridge
4:30 p.m. – Fayette-Ware boys vs. East Hamilton
6 p.m. – Arlington girls vs. Bradley Central
7:30 p.m. – Oakhaven boys vs. Bradley Central
(Contact Larry Fleming at email@example.com and on Twitter @larryfleming44)