2020 Class A Boys’ Sectional Hampton   67   Harriman   28 Hampton packing bags for trip to TSSAA Class A Boys’ State Championship

Published 12:59 am Wednesday, March 11, 2020

HAMPTON – There are several words that came to mind after watching the Hampton and Harriman Class A Sectional contest on Monday – domination, spanking, whipped, drubbed, clobbered – but the bottom line of it all was that the Hampton Bulldogs came out bearing their teeth and taking big chunks out of the visiting Blue Devils to advance to next week’s TSSAA Class A Boys’ Championship with a 67-28 win.
The Bulldogs learned a lesson from the Region final between Oneida and Harriman where the Blue Devils scored only five points in the first half and came roaring back to lose by a bucket as Coach Ned Smith made sure to have his club keep the foot on the gas in the second half after leading at intermission 41-13.
After having an off-week by his standards in the regional tournament, senior Jordan Bentley came out ready to ball as the lanky, red-head dropped in 11 first-half points to set the tone.
Caleb Oaks, another Bulldog senior, also had a big first half pounding the Blue Devils on the inside to the tune of 10 points.
Garrett Vines and senior Matt Hughes played a large contributing role both on the floor and in the offensive column scoring seven and five respectively for Hampton.
Ethan Adkisson had six of the 13 points for Harriman in the first half.
Not much changed in the second half as the Bulldogs kept up the same intensity they displayed in the first half pushing the lead to where the fourth-quarter clock was a continous-running one closing out the 39-point victory.
Morgan Lyons was a beast in the second half for Hampton scoring 12 of his 16 points in the final 16 minutes including a pair of nifty old-fashion, three-point plays along the way to take game-high scoring honors.
Bentley finished on Lyons heels with 15 points in the win while Oaks registered 14 in the game.
Vines (7), Hughes (5), Izaak Hill (4), Rocky Croy (2), Conor Burleson (2), and Conor Jones (2) closed out the Bulldog scoring.
For Harriman, Adkisson led the way with eight points while Nick Pelfrey added seven and Brady Stubbs four points in the loss.
Smith has been around the coaching circuit for a while and was asked after the game if he had ever witnessed such a dominating performance from a team especially at a Sectional level.
“I told our kids at halftime you can’t let up even if it is a 25-point lead,” said Smith. “I told them that they (Harriman) have done that two or three times this year where they would get down 25-28 points and came back to win by five or six.
“I told them this bunch don’t quit and our kids didn’t let up. Our kids didn’t take any bad shots and they got it where it needed to be and kept the pressure on for 32 minutes and they played extremely hard tonight.”
It was nine years ago that a Hughes had a hand in leading the Bulldogs to the state tournament with a win over Harriman on the same floor as Nathanael Hughes was a big part of that team.
With the win, another Hughes will grace the floor of the Murphy Center.
“This is so unreal,” said senior Matt Hughes. “I have always heard how Nathanael did this and Nathanael did that and how special he was and it’s just awesome to say that I got to go to state as well.
“Coach Smith said from the start that they were going to be tough on defense but they had to worry about our defense too. It started when we started to pressure them and forced some turnovers and got some easy layups and made some big shots.”
After being missing offensively during the regional tournament, Bentley was enthusiastic to see his senior season continue and having a hand in the win was just the cherry on top of the sundae.
“We stuck to practice all week and was really prepared,” said Bentley. “It’s just a great feeling to be out here playing with these guys. We weren’t going to let what happened with Oneida happen again.
“Being in the Arby’s kind of prepared us for playing in the state tournament and we are going to go down there and do the best we can.”
After being named the Region 1 MVP, Rocky Croy couldn’t do anything but smile after the big win.
“This is amazing,” said Croy. “Being able to play at our place and having it packed out with not a seat left. They said we would never forget the regional night but this is just better than any other night.
“I think if we just do what we did tonight down there we will be okay.”
Smith was grateful for all the fans that came out for the game and believed they were part of being a game-changer.
“It was a packed house tonight and a great atmosphere,” Smith said. “I appreciate the fans all coming out and I think that had a big impact on the game. When you score a few and this place erupts its a great and fun place to play.”
The final eight teams that will be competing for the TSSAA Class A State Championship will be Oneida (28-7), Monterey (27-7), Clay County (25-8), East Roberson (23-10), Loretto (27-5), MAHS (21-8), Booker T. Washington (28-4), and Hampton (26-10).

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