Bucs hold off Appy charge

By Allen LaMountain

   JOHNSON CITY -- Led by freshman speed demon Tim Smith, the East Tennessee State Buccaneers ran off to a 16-point halftime lead and held off a second half charge by Appalachian State in an 88-78 win.
   On Saturday afternoon at Memorial Center, Smith poured in 19 of his game-high 25 points in the first half as the Bucs forced the Mountaineers into numerous miscues and out-rebounded Appy by a 26-14 margin in almost running the visitors out of the building.
   "In the first half ETSU dictated things on their terms," said Appalachian head coach Houston Fancher. "In the second half we did a much better job, but we didn't shoot well early. When that happens it filters down to other area's of our game."
   A very good crowd was treated to the Bucs run and gun style early as Smith - along with senior forward Isaac Potter and fellow freshman Ben Rhoda - kept the Mountaineers at bay with exceptional shooting from the floor and gritty defensive pressure.
   Bucs seniors Potter, Shannon Hufstetler and Ryan Lawson were honored with a ceremony on Senior Day and each played significant minutes as well as significant roles in the games outcome.
   "I'm very, very proud of the team tonight," said Bucs' head coach Ed DeChellis. "It was a gritty, gutsy effort tonight. The atmosphere was great, both teams battled and I was thrilled for the seniors. I think it was important to them to leave here with a great game in their final home game. Ike did a great job, Lawson (as well) but Tim got us going in the first half. I tell the guys when he's going good to just get the heck out of the way and let him create."
   Appalachian State shot a horrid 8-for-35 (22.8 percent) in the first half, and had a poor 10-for-17 (58.8 percent) effort from the charity stripe as well in a first half that they would probably like to forget.
   The Mountaineers showed short memories indeed as they immediately went on a nine-to-two run to cut the Bucs lead to 47-40 at the 15-minute mark as Shawn Hall and Chris McFarland led the way.
   Hall -- who was averaging 20.6 points per game coming into the contest -- hit his average by scoring 15 of his 21 in the second half.
   "Hall made twenty on us, but it was tough twenty," claimed DeChellis. "He's a tremendous player, but we were up in his face most of the night. We had a down stretch in the second half, but then we came back to have a decent stretch where we hit some important shots."
   With Appy now breathing down their backs the Bucs stepped up to the challenge as ETSU put on a 13-4 run to open a 60-44 advantage as Zakee Wadood scored seven points in the run and sophomore James Anthony dropped a heavy three-point bomb on the Mountaineers as well.
   Once again however Appy put on a charge as the Mountaineers closed to 77-70 with just under two-minutes remaining in regulation as Hall heated up along with Matt Jones who tallied nine points on the day.
   Jerald Fields hit a pair from the free throw line to stake the Bucs to an 80-70 lead and Wadood struck the final nail in the Appy coffin with a deuce to give ETSU an 83-72 lead with time running down.
   "This was one of the most fun games this year," said a beaming Smith. "We came out with a lot of energy in the first half. In the second half we got a little tired, but we knew what we had to do, and that is keep playing tough 'd' and keep battling. I knew at some point that they would make a run at us, but we hung in."