Nick Long went up with his defender for the rebound. Nick Long stayed up as his defender began to fall back to earth. Nick Long put up two hands……….and flushed a teammate’s miss back into the basket for two points on a put back jam over his defender. It punctuated another quarter of dominance for an East Hamilton team.
It was a throwback to an older, less-explosive era of basketball for the East Hamilton teams as the Hurricanes hunted the most efficient shot in basketball: a layup.
Both the boys (69-34 victors) and girls (78-19 winners) team hammered their Chattanooga Central opposition in the paint possession after possession after possession. It was hardly the most beautiful brand of basketball, but no visiting Hurricane fan could quibble about its effectiveness after the fact.
The boys’ 69-34 win was keyed, as they so often are, but their magnificent trio of bigs. Cade Pendleton, all 6-9 of him, chipped in 12 points and defended the rim as if his life depended upon it. If Central guards like Ronye Watson or Noah Collins slipped by the Hurricanes’ smothering fullcourt trap, they had to get a shot up and around Pendleton’s mammoth wingspan.
Guards like Juan Bullard and Ashton Munson made just getting to Pendleton a chore, especially in the second half, when the Hurricanes outscored Chattanooga Central 41-19. Their well-executed press forced the Pounders into making errors with the ball, and those mistakes led to even more layups and a few open threes.
“All of our wings and guards are looking for our bigs and buy in,” coach Andrew Webb said. “It’s great we have a 6-7 trapper 60 feet away from the rim, and then we have a 6-10 guy right under the basket.”
Pendleton might be the largest player on the court, but he is far from East Hamilton’s only option in the frontcourt. The Hurricanes enjoy the rare luxury of having three solid bigs that can rotate into the game with minimal to no drop-off in quality of play. If Pendleton and Smith need a breather, Zachariah Laboo is more than capable of filling in and throwing his weight around under the rim.
“It’s a huge luxury to have those three guys,” coach Webb said, “and those guys make each other better in practice every day.”
Although the young Purple Pounders couldn’t keep up with the Hurricanes’ firepower, their night was not devoid of highlights. Late in the first quarter, Matthew “Slim” Sharpe ran out in transition and beat every defender to the other end of the court. After he got the outlet, the sophomore wing rose up, cocked his right arm back, and threw down for the loudest bucket of Central’s night.
“Coach Kantonio Davis does a great job with his guys,” the coach said of Central’s coach. “I’ll tell you what, that’s as tough a test as we’ve had in the first half. Coach Davis recognized weaknesses in our personnel and forced us to play to our weaknesses.”
The East Hamilton girls made sure there was no question who was going to win the game in the first frame of their contest. The Hurricanes led 33-5 after eight minutes and 58-7 after sixteen. It was a layup line for East Hamilton, who were led by McKenna Hayes and her 23 points.
She received scoring assistance from Niya McGhee and Morgan Bone, who both chipped in 11 apiece for the dominant squad. Chattanooga Central were led by Leighana James, who put up five points.
EAST HAMILTON 14 14 20 21 – 69
CHATTANOOGA CENTRAL 11 04 09 10 – 34
EAST HAMILTON (69) – Harris 7, Bullard 8, Cade Pendleton 12, Mason 6, Ashton Munson 14, Griffin 2, Long 7, Scruggs 1, Zachariah Laboo 12
CHATTANOOGA CENTRAL (34) – Bell 6, Collins 6, Watson 8, Sanderfer 2, Williams 2, Matthew Sharpe 9, Sanders 2, Wadley 2
3-POINT GOALS: East Hamilton 6 (Munson 3, Mason 2, Harris 1); Chattanooga Central 2 (Collins 1, Watson 1).
EAST HAMILTON 33 25 14 06 – 78
CHATTANOOGA CENTRAL 05 02 08 04 – 19
EAST HAMILTON (78) – Sutton 8, Collins 2, Niya McGhee 11, Calhoun 2, Morgan Bone 11, Sutton 4, Laboo 9, Kelman 2, Moore 2, McKenna Hayes 23
CHATTANOOGA CENTRAL (19) – Glover 4, Harness 4, Walton 2, James 5, Range 4, Martin, Nixon
3-POINT GOALS: East Hamilton 5 (Hayes 3, Sutton 1, Bone 1); Chattanooga Central 1 (James 1).
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