Home Sweet Home: Tyner Handles Sweetwater In 2AA Quarters

Rams Face McMinn Central In Semis After 67-46 Win

  • Saturday, February 24, 2024
  • James Beach

Over the last seven seasons of E'Jay Ward's rein as the Tyner head basketball coach, the lights on the home side of the Tyner Gymnasium scoreboard have moved at a pinball pace and Saturday night with the Rams hosting Sweetwater in a Region 2-AA quarterfinal the end result was a familiar sight.

Tyner (23-4) remained unbeaten on its home floor this season with its tenth win there with only two teams playing the Rams within double digits. Tyner moved into Tuesday's Region semis with a 67-46 handling of the Wildcats with the goal of getting one more game on its hardwood before the Tyner Gymnasium gives way to a brand new one in the school's new building next season.

Tyner will meet McMinn Central, a 75-48 victor over CSAS last night, in a 6 p.m. tip Tuesday as the Region event moves to CSAS. The Rams are one win away from playing in their fifth straight region title game, but only a win in Thursday's championship game would bring the Rams home for one final appearance in a state sectional game the following Monday.

And while the ultimate goal for Tyner is to be the last team standing in Murfreesboro, the first step is to guarantee a sectional game and the second one is to get that one last bounce on their home hardwood.

"We didn't play like we wanted to tonight, but we got the win. Tuesday is all we are concerned about right now, but our goal all along has been Murfreesboro and we would love to get one final game here to send this place out in style if it's in the cards," said Ward afterwards.

Of course, when you've won 64 times in 73 home games over the last seven seasons by an average margin of almost 18 points, the Rams understand the significance of a home Sectional game.

"We've talked about getting the home game for sure because we feel if you come into our gym you're going to be an underdog the way we handle business. But our first order is to get past Tuesday and play better than we did tonight. We got a little selfish out there, but we got the job done because honestly we are more talented than they were," said Adarius Brewster, who led the Rams in scoring with 21.

Tyner got out to a hot start with a 19-9 lead after one stop, and the Rams did it with defense, forcing Sweetwater into 10 first half turnovers and forcing 15 missed shots out of 20 taken. Tyner did it with a trio of 3s to close on a 13-5 run in the first period as Kohl Ward popped from deep twice and Zion Pinkerton added another.

Another 12-3 run to end the first half pushed it out to 35-17 at the break as Rodney Henderson popped for 12 first half points. The Wildcats had trouble finding holes in the Rams' first half defense with just two players making field goals and when leading scorer Chris Alford picked up a third foul in the half, things got even harder.

But the Wildcats came out energized in the third period with Nolan Dacus getting all 10 of his points in the period as Tyner lost some of its edge and energy in losing the period 15-13 to a team that has been competitive all season along against foes. Sweetwater came in with nine losses of less than 10 points and took advantage of the quicksand the Rams seemed to be mired in.

Thankfully, Brewster recognized the moment for Tyner and willed his way time and again to the basket through contact. Brewster scored 17 of his team high 21 in the second half and converted four And1s. And it was Brewster who grabbed the only two offensive boards Tyner had in the first half.

"I got two fouls early and had to sit, so when I got back out there I just wanted to contribute. I just said to myself I've got to do something, so I just started going to get the ball when it was shot," said Brewster.

Add Ward of his junior: "He brings the energy for us. The guys came into this one not ready and I will take the blame for that, but they will know by Tuesday it's time to rock and roll."

After hitting half of the 30 shots in the first half, the Rams finished shooting 44 percent from the floor thanks to a 12 of 32 showing in the sloppy second half. Sweetwater was held to 31 percent on 15 of 48 shots. Henderson wound up with 19 on the night and Ward had all 12 of his points in the first half.

"It's all about one step at a time. We need to pick up the urgency from here on out and make sure this isn't our last game on this floor," said Henderson, who was held to less than 20 for the first time since postseason began.

Sweetwater closed its year at 10-17 and was led by Alford's 13 and Dacus with 10.

Brainerd, a 61-54 winner over Tellico Plains, meets Kingston, which beat Bledsoe County, 76-53, in the 7:45 battle on Tuesday at CSAS in the other Region Semis.

REGION 2-AA QUARTERFINAL SUMMARY

SWEETWATER 9 8 15 14 -- 46

TYNER 19 16 13 19 -- 67

SWEETWATER (46) -- Chris Alford 13, Daffron 8, K.Cash, S.Cash, Nolan Dacus 10, Upton 2, Hicks 6, Houser, Cunningham 3, Burgess 5, Johnson.

TYNER (67) -- Smith 2, Allen, Rodney Henderson 19, Pinkerton 8, Adarius Brewster 21, Ford 3, Wilson, Harper 2, Dixson, Kohl Ward 12.

3-point goals: Sweetwater 5 (Hicks 2, Alford, Cunningham, Burgess); Tyner 3 (Ward 2, Pinkerton) .

Records: Sweetwater 10-17, Tyner 23-4

Up Next: Tyner plays McMinn Central (17-12) at CSAS in Region Semis.

(Contact James Beach at 1134james@gmail.com)

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