By Carey Phillips
Smoky Mountain rallied from a 14-point deficit late in the first half to defeat Rabun County, Georgia 68-56 in non-conference men’s basketball action Dec. 30 at the SM gym.
Zeb Sink led the Mustangs with 19 points. He was joined in double figures by Mitch Wike with 15 and Conner Seagraves with 11.
Ethan Clark scored 19 for the Wildcats. Clayton Dixon added 12, and Connor Mc-Kay had 10.
“Our kids showed a lot of grit,” Coach Adam Phillips said. “I was very proud of them. We were down double digits in the first half. We came storming back late and played extremely hard, especially defensively. I can’t say enough about our kids. At no time in that game did we panic. We had that edge and showed a lot of resolve coming back.”
“We just came down to the locker room at halftime and gathered our thoughts and prepared better,” Parker Flynn said of the turnaround in the second half. “We needed to get a little more aggression going. We were kind of soft in the first half, not taking charges and not going to the basket hard. We came down and got our minds right and came back out and got the job done.”
There were four lead changes and five ties in the first quarter. McKay scored the period’s last five points giving Rabun a 19-14 edge.
Clarke hit a trio of three-pointers in a 10-0 run giving his team a 29-16 lead with 5:33 left in the half.
His three-pointer at the 2:49 mark extended the margin to 36-22.
SM scored the half’s final 11 points, including three apiece by Wike and Sink, cutting the gap to 36-33.
Grayson Carver’s basket gave the Wildcats a 44-37 lead with 6:27 to play in the third period.
The Mustangs took the lead by finishing the quarter with a 14-2 spurt, including four by Wike. Ryan Waliezer’s three-pointer as time expired gave SM a 51-46 advantage.
The lead didn’t dip below five the rest of the way.
A 9-3 run, including four by Seagraves, made it 64-53 at the 2:06 mark.
The final represented the largest lead of the game.
Sink’s points came on nine field goals and a foul shot. Wike hit six field goals, including a three-pointer, and two free throws. Seagraves made five field goals, including a three-pointer.
Parker Flynn added eight points, Clayton Frady followed with five, Waliezer and Michael Todd both scored four, and Hunter Cabe had two.
Flynn and Todd both had six rebounds. Todd and Sink each handed out five assists.
Rabun came from behind to win the JV game 57-55. SM led at quarter breaks by scores of 12-8, 23-22 and 35-24.
Max Buchanan scored 15 points. Brylen Conlin added 13, and Vaughn Ellis had 11.
“We played hard the whole game,” Coach Tyler Mulligan said. “We let two of their kids score 39 of their 57. Outside of that it’s little situational things we need to work on. It’s basketball IQ things that come from playing the game and watching the game. We played hard, but at the end we’ve got to finish games.”