Two consolation games were played in the District 6-AA basketball tournament Monday night at Howard’s Henry Bowles Gymnasium and one was much more significant than the other.
The Brainerd Lady Panthers had a strong fourth quarter to finally pull away from Tyner en route to a 48-34 victory while the Howard Hustlin’ Tigers escaped a hungry Red Bank team by a 71-68 final that was important for two reasons.
It was a fitting way for Howard coach Walter “Moose” McGary to go out in his final game at home and the win was his 700th in an extremely successful coaching career that began at Alton Park and will conclude this season after 15 years as the Howard leader.
District champions will be crowned on Tuesday with Signal Mountain’s girls facing Red Bank in the first game and the Signal Mountain boys taking on the Tyner Rams in the second game of the evening.
BRAINERD GIRLS 48, TYNER 34: The Lady Rams broke away from a 6-6 tie midway through the first quarter to lead 12-8 when that first stanza ended and the difference was 16-10 following a 3 from the wing by Leaundra Melton with 4:34 remaining before halftime.
A three-point play by Keniah Watkins some two and a half minutes later allowed Tyner to regain the lead at 19-17, but the Lady Panthers were able to finish the half on a 7-2 run and were ahead 24-21 at the break.
Tyner hung close in the third quarter, but never regained the lead as Brainerd’s lead was 28-26 with eight minutes to play.
A layup by Keonna McCutcheon with 2:40 to play got Tyner within 37-34, but the Lady Panthers then scored the final 11 points to win going away.
“Resilience and perserverence were the keys for us, but for us get a win like this over a quality team like Tyner at this point in the season says a lot about our girls,” said a happy Brainerd coach Stanley Jackson afterward.
“Kimia Carter had another outstanding game and she helps elevate the play of the others, but we have some quality young ladies on this team. And what can I say about Tyliyah Ward, who is just a freshman and played the entire game. Those two made the difference for us tonight,” the coach added.
These two young ladies were the only Lady Panthers in double figures as Carter led the way with 21 while Ward added 10.
McCutcheon was tops for Tyner with 11 points while Watkins was close behind with 10. Melton finished with eight.
Brainerd also had an unofficial 34-25 edge on the boards with Carter snagging a dozen and Casia Jarrett eight. McCutcheon was tops for the Lady Rams with seven.
HOWARD BOYS 71, RED BANK 68: This was one of those games where you felt like the team who had the final possession could emerge as the winner.
It was back and forth the entire 32 minutes with 13 ties and 16 lead changes.
The Hustlin’ Tigers just happened to have the final possession and they emerged with the victory.
Howard’s McGary certainly didn’t get many chances to relax during this one and the significance of it might not sink in for several days, but McGary’s boys did a fine job of sending out their retiring coach on a winning note at home with another milestone victory.
“I thought we were the better team quickness wise, but there are times when it’s tough to convince my kids of that fact. We started getting a little selfish in the fourth quarter and made some boneheaded plays, but we were able to pull it off at the end,” the former UTC All-American scratched his head trying to find the right words to express just how he really felt.
“I feel like we can beat anybody if we play like we played in those final three minutes, but it’s just a matter of putting it together for an entire game. We had a decent lead and were trying to milk time off the clock, but we had a couple of guys fire up shots they had no business taking.
“The kids already knew about it being my 700th win, but to come in here right behind the late, great Henry Bowles was a special treat for me. I love these kids and wish them the best in the future, but somebody else will be in control next year. I may teach another year of two, but my coaching days are over,” he concluded with a smile.
Red Bank coach Nick Fike wasn’t real happy with the way the game ended.
Marquez Williams sank two free throws with 17.3 seconds to give Howard its final lead at 69-68. Red Bank had more than enough time to get a final shot.
Big Jamel Davis got the ball down low and appeared to get fouled as he drove toward the hoop, but the whistle never blew as Williams came away with the steal and assist to Rico Weaver, who scored a layup at the buzzer for the final three-point difference.
“I’m not a very happy person right now, but I’ll talk anyway,” Fike said after exiting the Red Bank dressing room.
“We showed up with a lack of focus and an inability to defend. We had no energy from the start and it should have never come down to that craziness at the end. We battled hard at the end and I give our guys credit for not giving up, but there’s not too much else I can say,” Fike nodded.
Williams had 21 points to lead Howard while Weaver was also in double figures with 14. Telijah Snow was next with 11.
Lucas Brown and Tory Sewell both had 13 points to lead Red Bank while teammates Davis, Mike Porter and Will Thomas were also in double figures with 12, 11 and 10 points, respectively.
TYNER 12 9 5 8 -- 34
BRAINERD 8 16 4 20 -- 48
TYNER (34) – McKenzie, Cooley, Cosey, Melton 8, McCutcheon 11, Watkins 10, Thomas 2, Wyatt 2, Crumsey.
BRAINERD (48) – Jarrett 3, Merritt 7, Smith, Carter 21, Robinson 3, Ward 10, Jones 2, Torrence 2, Coates.
3-POINT GOALS: Tyner 1 (Melton); Brainerd 1 (Carter).
RED BANK 13 15 18 22 -- 68
HOWARD 16 12 18 25 -- 71
RED BANK (68) – Brown 13, Young 4, Sewell 13, Jones 5, Thomas 10, Jackson, Porter 11, Davis 12.
HOWARD (71) – Williams 21, Weaver 14, Thorne, Bell 3, Hall 2, Snow 11, Jackson, James 4, Fitch 6.
3-POINT GOALS: Red Bank 5 (Sewell, Thomas 2, Porter 2); Howard 4 (Williams 3, Bell).
(email John Hunt at email@example.com)