Devin Brickey scored 18 points as the Bulldogs shot 59 percent from the field and upended archrival Powell Valley 59-32 in Thursday night’s semifinals of the Lonesome Pine District boys tournament at Pound High School.
The Bulldogs (17-7) will play J.I. Burton (11-11) in the championship game, Saturday at 8 p.m.
The Raiders beat J.J. Kelly 52-52 in Thursday’s nightcap. Both have clinched spots in the Region D, Division 1 bracket and likely will find themselves among the top four seeds.
The Vikings (14-12) and the Indians (14-11) are both locks for regional play in Division 2 and will play in the LPD third-place game Saturday at 6:30 p.m. The winner will improve its odds to host a first-round regional game.
The Bulldogs lost 39-36 to the Vikings in their first regular season meeting and were dismissed 69-52 in the rematch. But Appalachia coach Pat Jervis noted that Thursday night was one of those outings where his team was clicking on all cylinders.
“We’ve played like this several times during the year. With our lack of height and our lack of depth, things have to go our way in an up-tempo game,” Jervis said. “We can’t get anybody in foul trouble.
“We can play really well as long as we’re playing our game, but we’re only as good as we shoot. Of course, transition baskets help those percentages go up. If we can turn the ball over in our half-court trap and run the floor and get some outside shots, we’ve got a tough team.”
Cat-quick Forrest Stuart scored 15 fabulous points for the Bulldogs, while Bud Allen added 12. Tyler Hall was good for eight points.
Appalachia led by 13 points at the half, pushing the lead to 37-20 by Stuart’s unimpeded full-court drive with 2:20 left in the second period. The Vikings beat the margin back down to the halftime gap on an 18-footer by John Michael Allen with 41 seconds remaining in the third.
Appalachia crushed comeback hopes by scoring 12 unanswered points in the opening minutes of the final stanza, including transition buckets by Allen and Hall and a couple of artful fall-away jumpers by Brickey.
Jordan Martin scored the Vikings’ lone 3 en route to a team-leading 10 points. Terrell Turner scored eight points while Delmas Lawson put up six.
Powell Valley coach Zack Moore wasn’t much for the old basketball clichÃ©s.
“I’m not into saying it’s tough to beat somebody three times. I don’t believe that,” Moore said. “We beat two teams three times last year.
“Give them credit. They played better than us. They deserved to win. They shot it good. They out-hustled us and got the rebounds and loose balls.”
In the nightcap, the Raiders were the last team to blink in a floor-running gunfight, earning Burton coach Stan Wilson an opportunity to play for his 16th LPD tournament championship.
The Raiders survived a 3-for-7 showing at the free throw line in a tense final three minutes.
“There’s just no doubt about it. We made one less mistake than they did tonight,” said Wilson, whose penchant for postseason success remains utterly unspoiled by recent changes to the tournament system.
“It was a good, hard-fought basketball game,” he said. “Anybody could’ve won it. As far as any turning point, I don’t think there was any. I think both teams’ defense was enough to keep the other off balance.”
Burton did enjoy a crucial edge on the boards, outrebounding the Indians 37-30. Ethan Stewart, who scored 13 points, pulled down 19 rebounds. Pat Begley had another stellar outing for Norton, scoring 24 points, grabbing seven rebounds and distributing four assists. Jacob Caudill scored 10 points.
Justin Wilson scored 14 points for the Indians, putting Wise ahead 52-51 with his mid-range jumper through traffic as late as 1:31 left to play. Chris Strouth scored 12 points, Devan Sproles added 10 and Deven Miller contributed nine.
“It was a typical Wise-Norton game. I thought both teams played hard,” Kelly coach T.J. McAmis said. “Both teams were attacking on both ends. I was just disappointed in the result. I thought our kids played hard and we had our chances to win. We didn’t finish when we needed. But Saturday is a new day and a new game. We look forward to seeing Powell Valley.”