Strong beginning not enough for Jr. Warriors in Area 1 championship

Published 11:02 pm Thursday, January 29, 2015

by Bryce Phillips 

Star Staff

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BLOUNTVILLE—After an explosive first quarter, the Jr. Warriors couldn’t keep up their momentum as they took second place in the Area 1 AA tournaments, falling 37-21 to the Holston Eagles.

“I am proud of my guys,” Jr. Warriors coach Daniel Carder said. “We came out strong in the first quarter and might have played one of the best quarters we have all year.”forsite

To open up the first frame, the Jr. Warriors played strong defensively as they held off the Eagles’ attacks on the goal. With Holston applying full court pressure, the Jr. Warriors were able to find gaps in the defense as Happy Valley’s Bryce Carter put up six consecutive points. The Jr. Warriors closed out the first with another six-point run to put themselves up 12-4.

It was in the second frame that things started to unravel. The Jr. Warriors went scoreless and allowed Holston to post 12 points.

“My big guy (Carter) got into foul trouble there, and it killed the momentum” Carder said. “No. 12 (Ben Williams) just took over in the second quarter for them. They took a big swing right there, and to just be down four going into halftime didn’t feel that bad.”

In the third, the full court pressure the Jr. Warriors easily fought through in the first frame became overwhelming. Holston extended their lead to 22-14 with two triples from Austin Monds, who finished the night with 12 points. The third frame ended on a three from Happy Valley’s Dakota Cochran, putting the Jr. Warriors down 25-19 going into the final period.

The fourth was the slowest period with both teams posting only two points each.

“In the third quarter they just dominated us,” Carder said. “In the third quarter we just folded to the pressure a little bit. We tried to make some difficult passes instead of just trying to do the smart thing. They are too good to do that. They are good at what they do. They knocked down some big shots on us.”

forsite2For the Jr. Warriors, it was a difficult journey to the finals, and Carder says he is proud that they made it there.

“To get to where we got, I’m not sure many people thought we could get to the championship game,” Carder said. “But me and my guys, we felt like we were capable of getting here and we did.”

Carter led the scoring for the Jr. Warriors, bringing in eight points. Cochran followed closely behind with seven. Happy Valley’s James Harmon put up two, while Will Tittle posted two points.

This was the third time out of four the Eagles have taken home the Area 1 AA championship. Ben Williams led the scoring for the Eagles with 14 points.

“We didn’t play too well in the first quarter,” Eagles coach Jared Harrison said. “That is the sixth game in a row that we have came out flat. The good news is we have been there before, and so we just cranked it up there in the second quarter. We got a lot more ball pressure and caused them to turn it over. We are averaging making teams turn the ball over 23 times a game. We are so small we have to get it back somehow.”

“We are fortunate to have really good kids, who want to listen and play the game the right way,” he added.

The Jr. Warriors will be back on the court Saturday at 11:45 a.m. as they travel to Pigeon Forge Middle School to play in the State Sectionals.