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Tribe dominates paint against Rebels in clinching title share

Bill Lane • Feb 2, 2008 at 12:00 AM

KINGSPORT — When a basketball team scores inside, it leaves little to chance.

Heavy odds were against Sullivan South on Friday night with Dobyns-Bennett annexing the painted area in an 81-44 win.

D-B’s four post players — Bronson Flack, Marshall Hardy, Darren Riggs and Jordan Edwards — combined to score 55 points

“I loved that,’’ D-B coach Charlie Morgan said. “Scoring in the paint is what you want.’’

The Indians (21-2, 14-0), ranked No. 6 in the Class AAA state poll, clinched at last a tie for the Big 9 Conference championship.

Science Hill, the top challenger to D-B, will be coming to Kingsport for a “Super Tuesday” showdown.

The 6-foot-10 Flack, whose improvement has raised the Tribe’s stock considerably, enjoyed his finest hour with a career-high 24-point effort in the 18 minutes he played. He scored eight in a three-minute span of the fourth quarter before leaving the game with 4:12 remaining.

“I think Bronson has gained confidence lately,’’ Morgan said. “He’s really come up in the last couple of games. Bronson was catching the ball tonight — he’s had problems with that in the past.’’

Flack is a left-hander with a quick release. It takes opponents a little while to realize where his mid-range jumper is coming from.

“Coach Morgan calls it ‘money’ when I shoot the 15-foot jumper with my left hand,’’ Flack said. “I’m buying in to what he’s been teaching. I’ve been trying to get comfortable with what I know I can do.’’

Flack, who has the size to attract college recruiters, attended the Prep All-Stars Camp at Nashville last summer and returned a bit scrappier.

“I’m trying to play more aggressively this year,’’ he said. The College of Charleston has been showing a lot of interest in him.

“At first, we weren’t patient enough with our shots,’’ Morgan said. “I told the guys we had to go inside.’’

That’s when D-B began to click with flashy playmaker Jamel Williams directing the attack.

Hardy scored 13 points, Riggs 11 and Edwards seven to go with Flack’s game-high 24.

Morgan said assistant Matt Baker, formerly North’s head coach, “has done an outstanding job with our post players.’’

One glance at the scorebook revealed D-B’s penetration.

“With those four guys accounting for 55 points, D-B beat us inside,’’ South coach Mark Pendleton said. “(The Indians) are a good team — one of the best that’s been around here in a long time.’’

Weston Carr led South with nine points, all on arc shots.

“We had a problem taking care of the ball early in the game,’’ Pendleton said. “That led to a lot of transition points for D-B.’’

South (9-17, 2-13) will close out its season at home next Thursday against David Crockett.

D-B will play at 4:40 p.m. today at the Salem Civic Center against Virginia’s third-ranked Group AA team, Hidden Valley.

“This should be a challenge for us,’’ Morgan said.

Earlier Friday, South’s girls defeated D-B 52-46 in overtime.

East Tennessee State signee Natalie Pickwell, hitting from all angles, fired in 30 points for the Lady Rebels (18-6, 10-5). She seldom missed and hit one shot from at least 30 feet away.

Pickwell scored 30 last year against Volunteer in a holiday tournament.

South coach Josh Tate, whose team hit seven 3-point goals, said this has been an asset all season.

“We’re making about 40 percent from the perimeter,’’ he said. “Pickwell has been hitting 43 percent and Samantha Williams 45 percent out there. Both are starting to look like Division I players.’’

Pickwell played AAU ball last summer.

“I’ve worked at improving my outside shooting,’’ she said. “This is the best night I’ve had with it My shot has been on lately. If I’m open, I take it.’’

Pickwell scored 12 in the first quarter, when South bolted to a 15-2 lead.

“I know D-B wanted badly to beat us,’’ she said. “We wanted it more and came out strong.’’

She dribbles, passes and shoots with equal facility — using either hand. “I’m right-handed, but I handle the ball a lot left-handed.’’

Pickwell and Williams, a Georgia Southern signee, are averaging 16 points apiece. Williams got only nine against D-B.

It was South’s third game without Ashley Johnson, who suffered a knee injury. Kendra Hampton has filled in admirably.

Blaine Frohlich led the Lady Indians (16-7, 10-4) with 16 points.

“It was a wild game,” said D-B coach Roger France. “We got down early but battled back. We didn’t execute very well on the offensive end. Our shots didn’t go in. South really played well.’’

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