If there was one player who defined Chattanooga Central’s dominant second quarter, it was guard Jaylin Teague and his long arms and quick hands. After a haphazard first quarter that featured a parade of free throw attempts for the visiting East Ridge Pioneers, the score was only 12-10 in favor of the Purple Pounders. Central needed a spark, and Teague was going to provide it.
He began the quarter with a steal and a quick layup. And then, just a few seconds later, he found himself behind the defense after another East Ridge turnover and scored again! And then, just for good measure, he picked a Pioneer pocket, controlled the ball, zoomed downcourt, and put home his third layup in about 60 seconds.
Central’s dormant offense had been jolted awake by Teague’s defense, and the Pounders went on their way to secure a 79-43 win in the first round of the District 6-AA playoffs.
“He had great intensity, and he has great length which helps us a lot on defense,” Central coach Kantonio Davis said. “Jaylin gets a lot of deflections and steals in the open floor, and a lot of times those turn into points.”
It wasn’t just Teague that starred for the Pounders in a second quarter that saw East Ridge go without a bucket for almost seven minutes. After sinking a couple of midrange hanging pullups in the first quarter, the speedy Donovin Taylor-Wade hit a corner three as part of a 13 point night. Bigman Jailon Jackson hyped up the crowd with three baskets, each of which seemed to raise the volume in the stands a little more.
His first basket showcased his nimble feet, with him hopstepping around his flatfooted defender as he went in for two. On the second basket, Jackson went baseline, missed the bunny, and then kept at it and stuck the putback. On his third bucket, the power forward went coast to coast before finishing with his left hand around the defender. And on defense, he and the lanky DJ Sanderfer were the interior linchpins for a defense that never stopped changing shape.
“We try to switch it up and see what the best defense for us is on a nightly basis,” coach Davis said. “Sometimes we’ll be in a zone and we may not get a lot of intensity out of that, so we’ll stretch it out and press a little bit.”
Instead of settling for contested looks, the entire Chattanooga Central offense seemed to be playing with joy. Even on non-makes, like a Teague dime to an open Drew Williams that led to free throws, the ball moved from side to side and whipped up and down the court after a turnover. That slim first quarter lead morphed into a 39-20 halftime margin.
“As the season has progressed Donovin has gotten a lot better at passing,” coach Davis said about his lead guard, who only made that one basket in the second quarter. “He’s starting to have his head up more, and he knows he pulls a lot of defenders, so he’s just finding he has to make plays for other guys.”
East Ridge had trouble handling Central’s pressure, but guard Tyree Smith had himself a fine day despite being accosted at every turn. He put up 14 points and did what he could to contain the Central guards. He and Malachi Garmany and Jarius Ware and the rest of the Pioneers continued to fight and scrap even as the deficit ballooned to over 30.
The clock may have been running in a “garbage time” fourth quarter, but neither team stopped trying to defend or score. That went for the coaches as well. When the Purple Pounders second-string made a careless error or were a step slow in rotating, turnover Coach Davis’ booming voice could be heard chastising and then correcting his players.
“I want them to be proud of every game and every practice, going out and giving everything you got for 32 minutes both mentally and physically,” coach Davis said. “We practice for a reason. I don’t want them to just come out here and play like their heads are cut off. I want them to be structured and able to execute during the game.”
Central will play at Brainerd on Thursday.
EAST RIDGE 10 10 12 11 - 43
CENTRAL 12 27 22 18 - 79
EAST RIDGE (43) - Adair 7, Sanders 1, Harris 5, Anderson 6, Morrison 2, Ware 3, Tyree Smith 14, Hamilton 1, Garmany 4.
CENTRAL (79) - Donovin Taylor-Wade 13, Kenneth Steward 7, Hubbard 7, Jaylin Teague 14, Williams 3, Kyree Steward 6, Sanderfer 4, Jailon Jackson 13, Patillo 6, Jones 5, Glover 1.
3-POINT GOALS: East Ridge 2 (Harris, Smith); Chatt. Central 6 (Taylor-Wade, Steward, Hubbard, Teague, Patillo, Jones).
(Email Joseph Dycus at firstname.lastname@example.org)