Thirteen different CSAS Patriots scored in a 61-31 semifinal win over the visiting Sale Creek Panthers on Friday night. The Patriots led the entire game at home on their grey Coach Mark Dragoo Court.
As the first quarter got under way it was clear Sale Creek had shown up with a plan to control the pace of the game. The Panthers did their best to keep the ball in their offensive half, using a pass and cut strategy designed to wear down the defense, draw fowls and keep the clock moving.
After eating up huge chunks of clock on offense, the Panthers would backed up into a tight zone defense, allowing the Patriots to shoot. If their shots fell CSAS would jump into a full court press to try and establish their own pace for the game.
The Panther’s strategy worked, Sale Creek may have ended the first quarter with only two points, but they were still only four behind CSAS who had only managed to score six. Both teams made plenty of subs throughout the game, with full-squad substitutions happening quite often.
Sale Creek’s offensive strategy also meant they were able to draw plenty of fouls early as the Panthers entered the bonus with 2:47 left in the first half.
“Getting young guys to play defense for minutes at a time can be difficult,” CSAS head coach Zach Dragoo said, referring to Sale Creeks’ game plan.
The Panther’s strategy started to fall apart however in the second quarter as their turnovers mounted. CSAS guard #2 Ethan Brown also broke his teams’ scoring slump by hitting two three pointers in quick succession, he would end the game with eight points. Meanwhile the Panthers continued struggling to find the basket.
The first half ended with the Patriots leading 25-7.
The second half played out in much the same fashion as the first, except for the emergence of Sale Creek center Korbyn Brown. The big man hit two jumpers from the high post, added several lay ups and a free throw for a total of nine points in the quarter. He would end the night with a game high 14 points.
On the other side of the ball CSAS guard Justin Brown also started to make an impact. He scored six in the third and added four more in the fourth. Along with the two he scored in the first half Brown wound up with a team high 12 points and was the only Patriot in double digits on the night.
By the end of the third quarter the score was 46-22 in the Patriots favor.
CSAS kept the pressure on in the final quarter, using every made basket as an excuse to press high. Sale Creek was forced to change up their game plan, but I was too little too late. The Patriots closed out the night with a commanding 61-31 win.
“We were focused,” Coach Dragoo said, “We knew they would come in with something different and we handled it well.”
Sale Creek head coach David Helton said his guys controlled the tempo and played good defense but were just a little outmatched in the end.
CSAS will host Tellico Plains, 57-35 winners over Copper Basin, in the 4-A championship game on Monday at 7:00 p.m. Sale Creek will travel to Copper Basin for the consolation game that same night.
SALE CREEK 2 5 15 9 - 31
CSAS 6 19 21 15 - 61
SALE CREEK (31) - Korbny Brown 14, Moore 5, Billingsley 4, Howard 3, B. Penny 2, C. Penny 2.
CSAS (61) – Justin Brown 12, E. Brown 8, Bell 6, Pride 5, Cameron 4, Gaines 4, Pace 4, Ramsey 4, Wright 4, Few 3, Grudzinski 2, McFarland 2, Wilson 2
3-POINT GOALS: Sale Creek 1 (Moore); CSAS 3 (E. Brown 2, Pride 1)
(Contact William Shelton at email@example.com)