Tipoff event opens door to new season

By Marvin Birchfield

STAR CORRESPONDENT

   MOUNTAIN CITY -- The tipoff for the tournament at Mountain City took place on Friday night, as six area teams did battle against one another.
   It was Hampton taking on Sullivan East in the first game, with the Bulldogs pulling away by the final of 74-58.
   "I thought we could have played better, but individually we handled the pressure and ball well," said Hampton coach Jerry White.
   Hampton sprung out to an 18-13 advantage after the first quarter of play. The 'Dogs were led by Jeremy Hall, who had eight points in the first before finishing with a total of 22 on the night.
   Adam Hughes was the big playmaker for the Patriots, pumping in 30 points in the game, but it was not quite enough for them to keep pace with the Bulldogs.
   Hampton continued to control the game throughout, as the relentless pressure took its toll on the Patriot front court.
   The Bulldogs also received offensive firepower from both Matthew Campbell and Ryan Deskins, who both finished with 13 points.
   "We're just an inexperienced team right now, and didn't play well enough to win the game," said Sullivan East coach Jerry White.
   Greeneville 71
   Johnson County 64
   The second game matched Greeneville against Johnson County in a hard-fought battle that wasn't settled until the last quarter of play, with the Greene Devils prevailing.
   "Coach Atwood did a good job, and I don't think we play as well as we could of have tonight," said Greeneville coach Bill Duncan.
   The size factor was an issue, but the scrappy Longhorns kept plugging away to almost come up with the victory.
   Matt Cornett carried the offensive load for Johnson County as he exploded to a 33-point effort.
   This was a close contest the entire game, but the big bodies of Matt Malone and Ben Cooper became the deciding factor for Greeneville, as both players combined for more than half of the Greene Devils points.
   "I am disappointed for our kids, because we had an opportunity to pull one out," said Johnson County coach Austin Atwood.
   Knox Bearden 64
   Unaka 42
   The Rangers were able to hang tough in the first half, but Bearden's size and deep bench was just too much for Unaka to contain.
   "We had our shots they just were not falling, and we have yet to jell as a team," said Unaka coach Donald Ensor.
   Aaron Dugger was the leading scorer for the Rangers, finishing with 13 on the night.
   Winston Robinson was the key to the success of Bearden as he finished with 15 points, and denied Unaka of acquiring an inside game.
   "We just try to keep rotating people, and the size and freshness of players seemed to wear them down toward the end," said Knox Bearden coach Mark Blevins.
   Saturday's Games
   Knox Bearden 70
   Hampton 41
   In Saturday night's action, it was Hampton taking on Knox Bearden, where the Bulldogs whipped another Bulldog team with Knox Bearden coming up with the victory.
   Hampton managed to keep the game within grasp the first half as Zack Ensor and Jeremy Hall led the Dogs in scoring.
   The second half was dominated by Knox Bearden, with a seemingly tired Hampton team trying to keep pace with the much bigger Knox Bearden.
   It was Ryan Whitlock and Winston Robinson that produced trouble for Hampton's defense and rebounding efforts.
   Whitlock finished with 16 points, while Robinson ended with 12.
   "I'm just glad to have the opportunity to compete against someone like Jerry White, for he's one of the best coaches in this area," said Knox Bearden coach Mark Blevins.
   Greeneville 87
   Sullivan East 52
   The size of Greeneville took effect in the first quarter of play, with center Mark Malone carrying the load with four baskets and a free throw to put them ahead 27-11.
   Adam Hughes had another big game for Sullivan East, by scoring the first 13 points of the game, and ending up with 28 on the night.
   Greeneville led by 31 at the half, and another solid performance came from Ben Cooper, as he knocked down three 3-pointers and ended with a total of 23 points.
   "I'm glad to be back up here and Coach Atwood has done a good job on putting this tournament together," said Greeneville coach Bill Duncan.