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Falcons right ship, upend Patriots

JACK GOODSON • Feb 7, 2007 at 12:39 PM

CHURCH HILL - Volunteer just wanted a second chance.

The Falcons grabbed 20 offensive rebounds and put together a superb second-half performance in a 60-51 win over Sullivan East in Big 9 Conference play Tuesday night.

After a first half to forget, Volunteer (19-9, 9-6) got back to basics over the final two frames to secure a key conference victory on senior night.

"We tried to simplify it," Falcons coach Todd Whittemore said. "We wanted to limit turnovers, play great defense, block out and rebound and hit our free throws.

"Sometimes you just got to make it easy. This is an easy game."

Now, with one league contest remaining, the Falcons trail Tennessee High by a half-game for third place.

Defense and a decisive edge on the boards helped Volunteer erase what was a horrible night offensively. The Falcons shot just 22 percent for the game (16-of-57), 4-for-19 from beyond the 3-point line. They even struggled at the foul line, finishing 24-for-40 (60 percent).

Most of those problems surfaced during a first half in which the Falcons trailed by as many as 10. Still, Sullivan East (11-18, 5-10) failed to distance itself and Volunteer, thanks to a small run to close the second period, trailed by only six at the break.

"We were playing like crap and were still in the game," Whittemore said. "I asked the kids how we had played and they said terrible. I told them to look at the score and that kind of clicked with them. Then, they started playing Volunteer basketball."

Obviously lacking on the offensive end, the Falcons buckled down defensively to immediate results.

The Patriots, after a fairly decent shooting half compared Volunteer, had just four field goals after intermission. Guard Isaac Snapp, who posted 11 of East's 17 first-quarter points, scored just four in the second half - all coming from the foul line.

"Our guys poured their hearts out," East coach John Dyer said. "I felt like foul trouble killed us. But we competed against a good basketball team. I'm just proud of my team."

The Falcons opened the third period on a 12-2 run, grabbing their first lead since the opening minute. They never relinquished it the rest of the way.

"We knew we weren't getting the job done," said senior Chadd Browder, who had a team-high 15 points for the Falcons. "In the second half, we focused and got it done."

Aaron Bennett added 10 points and Keith Cradic nine for Volunteer, which travels to Blountville on Thursday night for a crucial Big 9 date with Sullivan Central.

Earlier, the Volunteer girls picked up their second consecutive Big 9 victory, a 67-56 decision over East.

"We picked up a big win last week against (Daniel) Boone," Volunteer coach Dennis Anderson said, "and we built off it tonight. These kids are really coming together at the right time."

The Lady Falcons (7-20, 4-11) trailed by two points at halftime, but responded by outscoring the Lady Patriots 18-6 in the third frame.

All eight Volunteer players who entered the game scored, led by Brandy Barton's 18 points. Cynthia Lawson notched 14 and Chanoa Bledsoe had 11 in the win.

Kaycee Roberts and Jessica Keck each had 14 to pace the Lady Patriots (8-20, 4-11).

"We've had our share of distractions this year, but we've played hard and I'm proud of them," Anderson said. "We deserved to win."

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