Happy Valley, Unaka, TAD advance in Sweet Sixteen

Photo by John Wade
Cloudland Brent Powell (left) confronts T.A. Dugger’s Zach Montgomery.

Photo by John Wade
Guarded by Science Hill’s Chris Smith, Hunter’s Kelly Rapert drives toward the paint.


  JOHNSON CITY--A bumper crop of future prep stars showcased their talent Friday in the Sweet Sixteen Middle School Shootout held at Freedom Hall Civic Center.
  Boys' teams from all over the Northeast Tennessee area gathered to battle for bragging rights in the Mountain Empire, and Carter County kids were right in the thick of things.
  Happy Valley started off the second annual event in a barnburner with the Unicoi Patriots that went down to the final buzzer.
  Unicoi had the ball and a one-point lead, 23-22, with just :21 left in the game when HV's Garrett Dykes took a charge just as Unicoi advanced the ball past midcourt.
  Coach Rik Anderson used his last timeout at that point, and huddled his troops for a last-gasp attack.
  The Warriors returned to the floor and ran a play that put the ball in Travis Burchfield's hands for a three-point shot with just 10 ticks left on the clock, and the smallest man on the court came through with the biggest shot of the game, draining the three and giving his team a 25-23 victory, as a desperation shot by Unicoi missed its mark at the buzzer.
  "That was a big shot," said Anderson. "Travis is a good shooter if he can get his feet under him and not rush it. We ran that play for him, and he came through for us."
  Anderson also noted the importance of Dykes taking the critical charge that gave the Warriors their chance.
  "Garrett's one of the guys we count on defensively," the coach said.
  Bradley McVey led the Warriors with nine points, and Brandon Adams pitched in seven for the Patriots.
  Happy Valley advances to play John Sevier of Kingsport in the second-round winner's bracket Monday at 6 p.m.
  Unicoi will tangle with Johnson County in a 4 p.m. matchup.
  Coach Mark Revis and his Unaka Rangers ran their glittering record to 13-1 as they knocked off highly-touted Vance of Bristol by a score of 31-27.
  Unaka took a 7-4 lead at the end of the first quarter, then used good free-throw shooting and outstanding defense to hold off the Jr. Vikings and advance to the second-round winner's bracket.
  "That's what we stress," stated Revis when asked to comment on his team's defense. "We stress playing hard, boxing out, and getting loose balls...that's our main goal -- defense first, then the offense will come."
  Much of that offense came at the foul line, as Jeff Peters and Adam Colbaugh were fouled time and again when the physical Rangers drew contact while attacking the basket.
  Colbough scored all his points for the game from the line, hitting five of six freebies, and Peters hit eight of 10 on his way to a game-high 20 points.
  The nice double-pump in the lane by Peters gave the Rangers their largest lead of the game, 27-19, when Vance started to rally.
  Cory Young and Jon Krebs hit three-pointers that soon pulled the Vikings within two, 29-27, with under a 30 seconds to play.
  Forced to foul, the Vikes sent Colbough to the line in a bonus situation with 13 ticks left on the clock, and the tough Ranger delivered, hitting both shots to nail down the win.
  "When you shoot them a lot in practice, you learn to get your rhythm," said Colbaugh.
  When asked about feeling any pressure on his last trip to the line, Cobaugh smiled confidently and stated, "It was tough, but I got 'em."
  Revis also acknowledged the clutch shots: "We practice them a lot. In close games, it's usually going to come down to shooting free throws."
  Unaka will face Church Hill, a 40-25 winner over University School, in Monday's round starting at 6:15 p.m.
  Cloudland and T.A. Dugger faced off in another slugfest decided in the last seconds, with the Jr. Cyclones' Zach Montgomery delivering the knockout punch in a game that featured eight lead changes and five ties.
  The two teams were knotted up at 18 apiece heading into the fourth quarter when Jake Davis received a terrific pass from Kendall Wash to put the Cyclones up by two 4:38 left to play.
  Randall Johnson tied things up seconds later by hitting both ends of a bonus free throw opportunty, only to see Davis score again for TAD on a stickback following an offensive rebound.
  The Highlanders then ran off five unanswered points to go up by three, 25-22, with just over two minutes left to play.
  Big TAD post Julian Smith converted after another offensive board, and the Cyclones were down by one as the clock showed 1:13 remaining.
  Cyclone coach James Jacobs called timeout to discuss the situation with his team: "We talked about being tough. We were down by one with some time on the clock, and we knew we had to get a turnover...Zack got a hand on the ball, and we got the turnover we wanted."
  Montgomery followed with an NBA-range three-pointer to put his team up 27-25 with :14 left to play.
  Kyle Wash, who together with brother Kendall form a defensive dynamic duo for the Cyclones, then stole a 'Lander inbounds pass to dash Cloudland's own rally hopes.
  "I thought those two kids (Kyle and Kendall) did a wonderful job," said Jacobs of the Wash brothers. "And there at the end when we needed it, Zach (Montgomery) stepped up and hit a big shot."
  Montgomery led the TAD cagers with seven points, and Johnson and Lucas Clawson had seven each for Cloudland.
  The Cyclones advance to play one of Science Hill's two entries in a 7:15 p.m. game Monday, and Cloudland will face Gate City at 5:15 p.m.
  In another game of local interest, Science Hill's No. 1 team overwhelmed the Hunter Tigers 59-11 behind 13 points from their high-jumping big man, Chris Smith.
  Spencer Bradley added 11 for the 'Toppers, and Cody Cornett led Hunter with four.
  Hunter will face Indian Trail in the consolation bracket Monday at 5 p.m. in Freedom Hall's auxiliary gym.
  In other games, John Sevier defeated Johnson County 47-37, Ross Robinson defeated Indian Trail 71-26, and Science Hill No. 2 defeated Gate City 76-31.