The Patriots made sure the rematch wasn’t nearly as close.
They used a stifling defense to methodically pull out an emotional and hotly contested 58-43 nonconference win Tuesday night at the Dyer Dome. The Lady Patriots did avenge an earlier loss to the Lady Falcons with an impressive 66-35 triumph.
Volunteer and East struggled offensively to find any rhythm in the boys’ game, which turned into a defensive battle. The Patriots (10-8), coming off a solid performance in the Arby’s Classic, rode free throws from Dustin Bartley and Ethan Whitley to a 14-10 advantage after the first quarter.
An inside basket from Dayne Davis, followed by a 3-pointer and another jumper from Bartley, gave East its largest lead of the half at 29-19. Peyton Baker's basket at the buzzer brought Volunteer to within 29-21 at the intermission.
Twenty fouls were whistled in an intense, physical opening half.
“It was kind of a choppy game,” noted Volunteer coach Greg Barnett. “We knew that coming in that was the way it was going to be. We’ve got to learn to play through it and strive to play better basketball.”
The Falcons (7-11) opened the third quarter with baskets from Jeremiah Shearer and Grayson Hurd to cut the Patriots’ lead to 29-25, but East used a 16-5 push to end the frame to put away the game.
The Patriots held Volunteer’s inside threat — Jacob Deal — to 10 points after he had torched East for 26 in their earlier meeting.
“That number 34, the post player, had 26 in the first game,” said East coach John Dyer. “We held him to 10. That was the difference.
“This was a very hard-fought basketball game. Volunteer has a good team. They came in here with lots of momentum and playing well. They have good weapons. They are a good team. Coming off the Arby's and lost a couple in a row, this was a big win for us.
“I thought our defense played great,” Dyer added.
Bartley paced the Patriots with 19 points, Davis added 13 and Adam Davison contributed 10.
“They executed a lot better than we did,” Barnett noted. “We kind of got down early and were on our heels and we were playing catch up all night long.
“I think our guys played hard. But for whatever reason we couldn’t hit any 3s and against a team that shoots the 3 as well as they do, it’s hard to make up the ground.”
In the girls’ contest, Sullivan East outscored the Lady Falcons 15-3 in the second quarter to seize control and never looked back. They held a commanding 33-14 advantage at the intermission.
“You can’t win anything like that,” said Lady Falcons coach Tracy Cloninger. “All year long we’ve had a quarter where that’s happened and we’ve had a lull. ... We’ve yet to put four full quarters together and it’s hard to beat good basketball teams when you can’t do that.”
The Lady Patriots (9-10) were clicking on all cylinders behind the inside play of Kassidy Nelson and the 3-point shooting of Kylee Wolf. Nelson scored 21 points and Wolf netted 20, hitting six 3s.
East avenged its earlier 72-55 loss to Volunteer.
“We really challenged our kids to play defense because the first time we played Volunteer we didn’t play any defense at all,” said Lady Patriots coach Allen Aubrey. “We came out and played really well defensively in the first half and held them to 14 points and took them out of everything they wanted to do."
“I was really proud of our effort, especially on the defensive end.”
Kenady Knittle had nine points to lead the Lady Falcons (6-11), who are without one of their top players, Bryna Minton, because of injury.