Childress drops 42 on Catamounts

By Matt Hill
STAR STAFF

   JOHNSON CITY -- If there is a song that describes Dimeco Childress' final home game at East Tennessee State, it would have to be "Happy Trails."
   That's because everything about his last hurrah was good.
   Childress set a Memorial Center single-game record with 42 points in the Buccaneers' 91-77 victory over the Western Carolina Catamounts Saturday afternoon on senior day.
   Childress broke the record on a monster slam in the final minute of the contest. He then added another dunk as an exclamation point to bring his game total to 42 points.
   The last three Saturdays have been Childress explosions at Memorial Center. He broke his own career high for the third consecutive week.
   Childress, who finished the afternoon 16-of-27 from the field, wanted to go out like this.
   "I had planned to come out and get 50," Childress said. "I told my teammates I was trying to get 50 tonight. I wanted to set a record tonight, but I didn't know which one. I just wanted to do something big, so I could say I did something big my last game here and give people something to remember me by.
   ETSU head coach Ed DeChellis thought this was one night that Childress wasn't going to be stopped.
   "He's a good player," DeChellis said. "He's an All-conference guard, and people know him. I just think sometimes he gets in a zone. I don't care what you're going to do, he's going to score. If our guys will give him the screens that he needs, he can score. He's done that over his entire career."
   Despite Childress' explosion and the fact that ETSU led most of the way, DeChellis was still not very pleased with the team's overall performance.
   "We've practiced sluggishly the last few days, and we played very sluggishly today," DeChellis said. "I didn't think we were very sharp. I didn't think we played very well at all."
   Part of the problem for ETSU was foul trouble. Starters Jerald Fields, Zakee Wadood and Ryan Lawson all had to sit out much of the first half.
   This forced players who normally don't get a lot of playing time like Shannon Huffstetler and Isaac Potter to get some minutes. They did a very admirable job, and the Bucs held an amazing 45-31 lead going into the intermission.
   "I felt very lucky to be up 14 at the half," DeChellis said. "It seemed like the first six minutes of the game there were maybe 19 fouls called.
   "We didn't really adjust to how the game was being called. And we talked about that at halftime. I said if the game was going to be called tight the second half, then we need to adjust to the game. I didn't think we adjusted very well the first five minutes. We've got to adjust to how the game is being called."
   The Bucs held a double-digit lead throughout most of the second half, and were up 70-55 with 6:10 to go in the game.
   Western was not ready to throw in the towel just yet.
   Kevin Martin took over late for Western. Martin went through a stretch where he hit five shots in a row, including two three-pointers.
   The Martin barrage led the Catamounts back into it, and Western only trailed 74-69 with 2:42 left to play in the contest.
   "Western made us work for everything we got tonight," DeChellis said. "I knew they weren't going to quit. They're competitive kids. They made some big shots when they had to, and we didn't do some things we needed to do. I give the credit to them, they made a couple of big shots."
   But ETSU was money on the foul line in the final two minutes. The Bucs hit 11-of-12 free-throws down the stretch to give ETSU a double-digit win.
   "I think as a whole we played OK," Childress said. "We were kind of sluggish. We got up big, and then we let them get back into the game. But we pulled away at the end like we should do."
   Three other Buccaneer players hit double figures in this one. Wadood finished with 13, while Lawson and Tiras Wade both had 11 points.
   Wade also finished the game with eight assists and six rebounds.
   But this day belonged to the ETSU seniors. Childress is definitely going out with a bang, and hates to this come to an end.
   "I'm going to miss this place," Childress said. "I'm really just now starting to hit my stride in here with the 30 and 40-point games. But that's old news, and we've still got some games on the road to go and win."
   The other senior is walk-on guard Jon Perry. He made his first start Saturday, and has definitely paid his dues.
   "It was real exciting," Perry said about his first start. "I've been working real hard the last five years. It was a little overwhelming at first, but I felt real comfortable once we started playing. I was just glad coach gave me the opportunity to start, and that we won the ball game."
   Martin scored 23 points to lead the Catamounts, who fall to 11-14 overall and 5-9 in Southern Conference play.
   The Bucs improve to 16-9 overall, and are now 9-5 in SoCon action. The win was ETSU's sixth-straight victory.
   ETSU will be back in action Monday night at Furman.