Patriots rally to trip Hampton

By Matt Hill

   JONESBOROUGH- Saturday night at David Crockett high school, some people were in the hospitality room filling up on hamburgers and hot dogs.
   But in the case of the Sullivan East Patriots and Hampton Bulldogs, they were busy filling up on made baskets in the fifth-place game of the Hardee's Classic.
   In the end the Patriots won this shootout by a score of 79-72 in a game that saw 10 made three-pointers.
   It was a revenge game for the Patriots, as they lost to Hampton by 16 points last week.
   "We're getting better," Sullivan East head coach John Dyer said. "We're a whole lot better than we were a week ago."
   East led throughout most of the contest, but were back in a dogfight by the game's end.
   After a Jeremy Hall bucket put Hampton up 19-17 in the opening minute of the second quarter, the Patriots started their first run. East went on a 26-6 spurt to build a 43-25 lead with just 2:00 to go before the intermission.
   During one stretch of that run, Sullivan East hit four consecutive threes. They finished the night with six.
   That lead wouldn't last as Hampton came all the way back. After the Bulldogs trailed 44-31 at the break, they then proceeded to hit some big shots in the third quarter to cut East's advantage to 58-55 at the end of the period.
   "I was proud of the fact that we came back and made a game out of it," Hampton head coach Jerry White said. "At one point we had a chance to go ahead on a three. They didn't quit, and that's what you want this time of year. I'm just proud of the way they hung in there."
   However, a 15-2 Patriot run to start the fourth quarter would be the killer for Hampton, as East went ahead 73-57 with 3:51 left.
   Hampton mounted another comeback late, as the 'Dogs rallied to within 77-71 when Zack Ensor made two free-throws with 1:00 to go. But East held on down the stretch to preserve a hard-fought victory.
   White thought the Bulldogs had their opportunities in this contest.
   "We had real open looks," White said. "We couldn't get one to fall right when we needed to."
   Despite the loss, White was still proud of the effort given by the Bulldog squad. "We played hard," White said. "That's what I wanted them to do."
   There were several standout performances by Hampton players in this game. Kevin Harrison led all scorers with 25, while Jeremy Hall and Zack Ensor netted 19 and 16, respectively.
   Hall also had double figures in rebounding, giving him a double-double.
   "I thought he did an excellent job," White said. "We were without our post-player (Ryan Deskins). I was proud of Jeremy. I thought he hung in there pretty good. He was outsized quite a bit, but I thought he did a good job."
   Adam Hughes led the Patriots with 23 points, while Seth Hayes poured in 16. Freshman Dusty Elmore showed flashes of stardom in this one, as he put out a 14-point effort.
   With the win, East improves to 2-3 on the season. Hampton now has that same mark following the loss.
   It was obvious that these two coaches have a lot of respect for each other. White is certainly a legend, while Dyer will probably be one some himself someday.
   "They're very well-coached," White said. "John is a great guy, a great coach, and a good friend of mine. I think a lot of John. He does a real good job. Everywhere he's been he's done a good job."
   Said Dyer: "I'm proud to have coached against Jerry White. He's a class act. He's just one of the best of all-time. I know people in Hampton really appreciate him. He is something special."