(Story has been updated)
Frank Jones was back where he belongs on Tuesday night: coaching basketball.
Jones, the former Riverside High School standout, hadn’t coached a game since the 1999-2000 season when he was at Howard.
“It felt good,” said Jones, minutes after guiding Hurricanes to an impressive 86-75 season-opening victory over visiting Hardin Valley.
“It’s something I enjoy doing and the Lord found a way for me to get back to the game I love.”
The East Hamilton Lady Hurricanes, powered by Madison Hayes’ game-high 34 points under the watchful eye of a North Carolina State assistant coach, whipped Hardin Valley, 63-48.
The Hurricanes got a combined 53 points from Jamaal Walker and Cameron Montgomery and a barrage of 3-pointers by sophomore Haynes Eller in his first varsity game while posting the wire-to-wire win.
Walker led the Canes’ attack with 28 points; Montgomery added 15 and Eller finished with 14. Eller hit three of his four 3s in the third quarter, including a desperation bomb while falling out of bounds that swished the nets as the buzzer sounded.
“That was a catch and get it up shot,” the 15-year-old Eller said. “When the ball went through the energy in the building was through the roof.”
Walker got the Canes off to a fast start with 15 first-quarter points. Montgomery helped close out the victory, scoring 14 points in the final period, including 9 of 10 from the free throw line.
East Hamilton scorched the Hawks in the first period and built a 26-10 lead as Walker put up 14 points. The Canes had a 41-20 lead at halftime and Walker had 17 of his team’s points. Walker started East Hamilton’s third-quarter scoring with a spin move for a layup.
Montgomery and Walker are the only two seniors on the Canes’ roster.
Allan Sumner, who pumped in 29 points with six 3-pointers, hit a 3 and Avery Sonenshein added a field goal that helped the Hawks trim their deficit to 53-40 late in the third quarter.
Eller then drained two straight 3s in a span of 41 seconds and his teammates went bonkers, along with most of the rowdy partisan East Hamilton student section. Sonenshein scored again for the Hawks. Walker made two free throws and Cartez Campbell missed one at the other end.
In a beat-the-clock moment, Eller made an off-balance catch of a pass near the far sideline, turned toward the goal and launched a high arcing shot that hit nothing but the net. That gave the Canes a 64-42 lead going into the fourth quarter.
“He’s a humble kid that always comes in ready to play and does his job,” Montgomery said. “We knew shoots with a lot of confidence.”
East Hamilton’s lead was 66-45 after Eller scored on a put-back following Walker’s 3-point miss. The Hawks got five straight free throws – all free throws – from Sumner, who was fouled and East Hamilton was slapped with a technical foul. That spurt pulled the Hawks to within 66-53 with 6:37 remaining.
Montgomery stymied Hardin Valley’s rally with two free throws and a 3-pointer from the right wing.
Skylar O’Neal’s free throw sliced the East Hamilton lead to 75-64, but Montgomery made two free throws, Walker dropped in a bucket and Montgomery came back with a field goal. Montgomery knocked down three 3s, including two in the second period that were an estimated 22 and 24 feet, respectively.
“I thought we played good tonight,” he said. “We really pushed the ball and were looking for our teammates for open shots. And we played really good defense.”
Said Jones, “We played really good in the first half, but not as well in the second half when we got a little stagnant on offense and started doing things individually because of their pressure defense.”
East Hamilton girls 63, Hardin Valley 48: The Lady Hawks, coached by former Tennessee-Chattanooga player Jennifer Galloway (199-03), whose sister, Katie, married Keith Galloway, had a 14-6 first-quarter lead when the Lady Canes flipped their offensive switch and turned the lights out on Hardin Valley.
The Lady Canes went on a 15-2 run to put the Lady Hawks in a 21-16 hole. Madison Hayes scored six of the final nine points in the second quarter and East Hamilton went into halftime with a 27-21 advantage.
“We’re up by points at the half and I told them to come out in the third and put them away,” East Hamilton coach Hunter Gremore said. “We executed pretty well in the second half and did some good things.”
Madison Hayes and Dezah Lacy came out on fire in the third period and the Lady Canes eventually extended their offensive onslaught to 42-12 and had a comfortable lead at 48-26 with 2:07 on the clock. Hayes scored 24 of those points.
“When we play fast that’s to our advantage,” Hayes said. “That’s our scoring mentality. We’re a lot faster than most teams and we push the ball until we can’t push it anymore.”
Hayes came within seven points of her career high 41 posted against South Paulding (Georgia) in the Lady Canes’ 75-54 victory that nailed down the championship in a Christmas tournament in Panama City, Florida.
“We’ve played them before and know they’re a very athletic team,” Galloway said. “They liked to score off turnovers and unfortunately we turned the ball over tonight.”
Hardin Valley 14 7 10 17 – 48
East Hamilton 10 17 24 12 – 63
Hardin Valley (48) – Sexton, Adams 5, Inman 7, Kate Bass 3, Viktoria Emery 10, Boekweg 4, Makala Grice 19.
East Hamilton (63) – Patton 2, Evans, Dezah Lacy 13, Madison Hayes 34, McKenna Hayes 9, Johnson 2, Petitt, Sue, Laboo 4.
3-Point Goals – Hardin Valley 3 (Emery 2, Adams 1), East Hamilton 3 (McKenna Hayes 2, Lacy 1.
Hardin Valley 10 10 25 33 – 75
East Hamilton 26 15 23 22 – 86
Hardin Valley (75) – Jenkins 2, Allan Sumner 29, Huff 7, Grantham, Niezgoda 7, Sonenshein 9, Cartez Campbell 11, O’Neal 6, Adams, Smith, Krakoviak 2, Kline 3.
East Hamilton (86) – Jamaal Walker 28, Cameron Montgomery 25, Haynes Eller 14, Schramm 3, S. Randolph 3, Long 4, Shropshire 2, D. Randoph, Gay.
3-Point Goals -- Hardin Valley 7 (Sumner 6, Sonenshein 1), East Hamilton 8 (Eller 4, Montgomery 3, Walker 1).
(Contact Larry Fleming at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @larryfleming44)