By Carey Phillips
Top-seeded Hendersonville turned back second-seeded Smoky Mountain 64-49 last Thursday in the finals of the Mountain Six Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament at East Henderson.
Keenan Wilkins scored 17 points for the Bearcats. Carson Redden and Dwight Canady both added 13, and Alex Lemmons had 10.
Redden was named the tournament’s most valuable player. Wilkins and Canady made the all-tournament team.
Michael Todd led the Mustangs (14-10) with 16 points, and Mitch Wike had 11. They were both chosen all-tournament as was teammate Conner Seagraves.
“We had some point blank looks that didn’t go in,” Coach Adam Phillips said. “We squandered opportunities. We missed a lot of layups and free throws. I was proud of our effort. There was no quit in them.”
Hendersonville never trailed and took the lead for good at 5-2 on Redden’s three-pointer a minute and a half into the game.
Canady had a pair of baskets in the final minute for a 16-10 advantage at the quarter break.
The Bearcats reeled off 11 straight points for a 27-14 lead on Wilkins’ layup with 1:45 to go in the half.
SM scored the half’s final eight points, four each by Wike and Clayton Frady, cutting the gap to 27-22.
Hendersonville led 45-32 going into the fourth period after Lemmons’ buzzer-beater.
The margin never dipped below 11 in the final quarter. The biggest lead was 64-47 on Wilkins’ two foul shots with 38.2 seconds remaining.
Todd hit six field goals and four foul shots. Wike made five field goals, including a three-pointer.
Zeb Sink added eight points, Clayton Frady followed with six, Seagraves scored four, Parker Flynn had three and Ryan Waliezer made a free throw.
Mustangs clinch second
The Mustangs overcame a five-point third period to defeat Pisgah 55-49 in the semifinals Feb. 18 at East.
Not only did it put them in the championship game, but it also clinched the second seed from the conference into the state 2-A playoffs. Pisgah and SM had tied for second and split two games in the regular season, so this game was the tie-breaker.
Seagraves led a balanced scoring attack with 12 points, Frady followed with 11 and Sink had 10.
Matthew Roberts topped the Bears with 16, and Trent Devlin added 12.
“We played pretty well for three quarters,” Phillips said. “We had a cold streak in the third when we couldn’t buy a basket. In the fourth quarter we turned it on and made some shots. I’m very proud of this group of kids.”
“We started off real hot then I think we got kind of cocky and started letting up a little bit,” Seagraves said. “We should have kept pressing the gas. We couldn’t hit anything in the third but started hitting again in the fourth, and it came together for us. It was a hard fought game.”
It was the last time that Seagraves, a senior, will play against the rival Bears.
“It’s a great part of being a senior,” he said. “It’s exciting, but it’s also sad at the same time. I love playing them. It’s always the best game we have all season, and the fans are crazy. It’s a lot of fun.”
SM took a 10-6 lead on Flynn’s layup with 2:31 left in the first quarter.
Pisgah rallied to take a 13-10 edge after Devlin made two foul shots at the 1:31 mark.
The score was 15-15 entering the second period.
The Mustangs went on a 12-3 run, including four by Frady, to lead 27-18 after Seagraves’ three-pointer with 3:24 on the clock.
They were on top 31-26 at halftime.
Roberts scored seven as the Bears started the second half on a 9-1 run to lead 35-32 at the 2:02 mark.
Devlin made it 39-34 with 31 seconds left, and the Bears led 39-36 at the quarter break.
SM regained the lead at 41-39 on Seagraves’ three-pointer a minute into the final period.
He hit another trey at the 4:54 mark putting the Mustangs ahead to stay, 46-43.
The lead grew to 52-45 when Frady scored with 3:12 on the clock, and Pisgah came no closer than five the rest of the way.
Seagraves made a trio of three-pointers and three foul shots. Frady hit five field goals, including a trey, and Sink also made five field goals.
Flynn totaled seven points, Wike netted five, Waliezer and Todd both scored four and Jameson Madden had two.
JVs end season
The Mustang JVs ended the season 9-15 with a 61-29 loss to Franklin in the tournament finals at East. The Panthers led at quarter breaks by scores of 15-7, 33-18 and 51-26.
SM’s Chase Gribble had nine points.
“We had a great season,” Coach Tyler Mulligan said. “We wanted it to end differently, but Franklin has a great JV team. We finished strong and played well the last little bit of the season. I’m looking forward to next year.”