Both Tanner teams claim championships
By Bradley Handwerger
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TANNER — Demarcus King took 12 3-pointers Monday night in Tanner’s Class 2A, Area 15 tournament final against West Morgan.
Normally, that’s not a good sign.
For Tanner, it’s par for the course, and so was the fact that he sank seven of them.
King scored 23 points, stopped any West Morgan momentum with a deep trey, and Tanner won the tournament with a 77-63 home win over the Rebels.
In the girls contest, the Lady Rattlers nipped the Hatton Hornets 62-61.
“He doesn’t look much for the line,” Tanner head coach Chris Whitt said. “If he’s feeling it, he puts it up. I don’t much have a problem with it.”
And against West Morgan (19-9), Whitt had no reason to have a problem with the 3-pointers King put up beyond 22 feet.
“I was just feeling it tonight and kept shooting it,” King said. “I just got out there and really fell into the rhythm of the game.”
Seven 3-pointers isn’t a big deal for the senior. He hit a school-record 10 in a game a season ago, and followed that game up with nine. Monday, his 3-pointers played a huge part in Tanner securing a sub-region home game against Cleveland, a 69-56 loser to Westminster.
Tanner (24-5) led by four at halftime, but that lead didn’t last for long. West Morgan chipped away to begin the third, and when David Pritchard hit a layup with less than two minutes into the quarter, the Rebels were down only two points.
King answered with a 22-foot 3-pointer for a 41-36 lead.
After a West Morgan turnover, the Rattlers’ Rod Byrd assisted on a layup to Richard Nasseri giving Tanner a seven-point advantage.
On the ensuing possession, West Morgan’s Phillip Powell made a layup despite being fouled. He missed the free throw, but grabbed the loose ball and Tanner fouled him again. This time he made 1 of 2, and again the Rebels were within striking distance down 43-39.
Again King came through, sinking a 3-pointer even though West Morgan’s Grant Harbin fouled him.
He wasn’t alone, though. Byrd had another big night, finished with a game-high 25 points. After West Morgan again cut the lead to a manageable six points with 3:47 to play on Jacob Sparkman’s 3-pointer, Byrd picked up the pieces.
He scored seven points in the final three minutes, including nailing a 3-footer and the plus-one. “Rod is our go-to guy in crunch situations,” Whitt said. “But Demarcus is very, very dangerous. He’ll break your back if you let him go.”
Added West Morgan coach Ricky Bowling about King: “He’s 23, 24 feet out, we’re out there on him, and he’s knocking the eyes out. When he’s the only shooter they have, you might have chance. But not when they’ve got three or four guys.”
Latraius Mosley added 17 points for the Rattlers. It was the second game in the tournament that Tanner had at least three players score in double figures.
But the difference in the game, Whitt said, was his bench.
“When our guys came back in the fourth, they were fresh,” Whitt said. “I didn’t intend for them to sit out that long, but it worked.”
Now the road is a bit easier for Tanner. Instead of traveling, the Rattlers get to host a sub-region game in an arena they’ve lost in only once this season.
“It was a pretty big win,” King said. “Now that we’ve got the area, we don’t have to go nowhere for sub-region. That’s a big plus.”
Micah Randolph led West Morgan with 16 points, Blake Gholston added 12, Phillip Powell had 11 points and 12 rebounds, and Harbin pitched in 10 points.
Tanner girls 62, Hatton 61: Tanner led for all of three and a quarter minutes, but it led when it counts.
And the Lady Rattlers almost didn’t lead at the end. Anyone who watched the game knows they tried to give the game right back to Hatton.
Tanner (21-9) took a three-point lead at 62-59 with 1:54 to go on Cecily Woods’ old-fashioned three-point play.
Hatton (16-12) came right back, cutting the lead to 62-61 when Grace Harrison hit a layup and was fouled.
But Harrison missed her free throw. Tanner held onto the ball for nearly a minute, but lost it when Whitley Mayberry dribbled the ball of her knee and out of bounds.
After a Hatton’s Kaitlyn Fleming missed a layup, Tanner’s Woods grabbed the rebound. However, she didn’t advance the ball past midcourt and was called for 10 seconds, turning the ball back to the Lady Hornets.
Woods then fouled out with 7.9 seconds to play when she fouled Harrison.
Yet, Harrison missed both free throws. Hatton picked up the rebound, but missed a shot with 1 second to play.
“We talked at halftime that we were down 14,” Tanner head coach Larry Greene said. “We weren’t going to make up that 14 points in the third quarter.
But we wanted to chip away so we could have a shot in the fourth.”
The only reason Tanner was able to cut the lead down from 16 is Woods. Despite fouling out, she scored 25 points, 17 in the second half after shooting 2 of 9 in the first half.
“Cecily really stepped up for us, especially in the fourth quarter,” Greene said. “She had some big baskets. She didn’t play well in the first half. But that’s the mark of a good player — when you know you didn’t have a good first half but you step it up in the second half and make things happens.”
Added Hatton head coach Rheta Harrison: “ Woods, letting her catch the ball inside we’ve got to do a better job. She was the difference. She took it upon herself.”
Woods made 5 of 6 free throws in the second half, including four in a row that gave Tanner the lead late in the game.
“First half, I couldn’t hit anything,” Woods said. “The second half, coach told us we had to get the job done inside. So I posted up and went to work. I knew we could win it in there.”
Regardless of losing, though, Rheta Harrison said Monday’s experience is something the team needed.
“That game got us ready for Wallace State (where the state regionals are played),” she said. “We’re playing at that level. We’ll be ready for Thursday night even if we’ve got to travel.”
Tanner will host the loser between Westminster and Cleveland, while Hatton will travel to the winner of that game.
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