By Carey Phillips
Max Buchanan’s three--pointer with nine seconds remaining lifted Smoky Mountain to a 58-57 non-con-ference men’s basketball victory Jan. 5 at Erwin.
The Warriors called time out but lost the ball before they could get off a shot and time expired.
Buchanan finished with 23 points. Darien Bird and Matthew Brown both added 14.
Carson Wallace scored 17 points for Erwin, and C.J. Morgan had 14.
“Max made a big shot,” Coach Jimmy Cleaveland said. “It was a team win, and everybody did their job. We’ve had some really good practices, and we were on the road.”
The coach said Brown had close to 20 rebounds .
“He and Darien did a great job on the boards,” Cleaveland said. “We challenged Tanner (Gerrety) on the defensive end to make some stops on their shooters, and we limited our turnovers. We got that big stop at the end of the game.”
After trailing most of the night, the Warriors took a 45-42 edge on Wallace’s three-pointer with 5:17 left in the game.
He hit another trey at the 2:34 mark for a 53-48 advantage.
Brown made a three--pointer and another basket for a 53-53 tie with 1:44 on the clock.
Baskets by Ty Johnson and Brendon Atkins put the Warriors in front 57-53 with 45 seconds to go.
Bird cut the gap to 57-55 with 33 seconds left before Buchanan hit what proved to be the game winner.
The Mustangs dominated early. They scored the first quarter’s final 11 points, including six by Bird, for a 16-3 advantage.
Erwin went on an 11-2 run, including five by Wallace, cutting the gap to 22-19 with a minute remaining in the half.
SM was up 26-21 at intermission.
Erwin opened the second half on a 10-3 spurt to take a 31-29 lead on Morgan’s three-point play with 4:40 on the clock.
The Mustangs turned things around with a 9-1 run, including four by Buchanan, to take a 38-32 lead when Brown made two foul shots with 2:42 left.
Erwin cut the gap to 40-38 at the quarter break.
Buchanan hit 11 field goals, including the game-winning three-pointer. Bird scored all his points from the floor. Brown made four field goals, including two three-pointers, and four of four foul shots.
Brylen Conlin added five points, and Gerrety had two.
The Mustang JVs won 59-40. They pulled away from a 10-10 first quarter tie to lead 30-16 at halftime and 51-28 entering the fourth period.
Malaki Smith and Jayce Stillwell, who had spent most of the season until now on the varsity, scored 20 and 17 points, respectively. Cameron Fowler added 18.
“We got off to a really good start,” Coach Zeb Capps said. “We were able to create some turnovers off of our press.”
“I wanted to make sure we finished the right way,” he added. “We got up by over 20 then had a little bit of a lull. I was certainly pleased with our effort.”
He said Fowler played “extremely well.”