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Reserve St. Clair leads South to Citizens Bank Classic championship

Bill Lane • Dec 31, 2008 at 12:00 AM

KINGSPORT — Most successful basketball teams have players who come out of the woodwork at opportune times and decide games.

Tuesday night for Sullivan South, it was Caleb Anderson.

Wednesday night, it was Aaron St. Clair with the hot hand that led the Rebels to a 64-48 victory over Elizabethton.

It was the fifth straight win for South (9-6).

St. Clair entered the Citizens Bank Holiday Classic championship game in the second quarter when starting point guard Bailee Dick picked up his second foul. He immediately nailed three 3-pointer, allowing the Rebels to build a 33-21 halftime lead.

“Aaron gave us a huge boost when he came in with Bailee in foul trouble,’’ South coach Mark Pendleton said. “He hit some really big shots.

“It’s been that way this year. Different people have been stepping up to lead us. It certainly helps when those shots fall.’’

St. Clair, a 6-foot-1 junior who has spent the last two football seasons backing up all-state quarterbacks, spearheaded South’s attack with a 13-point effort.

“I found myself open by going inside with the ball and getting it back on kickouts,’’ St. Clair said. “I wasn’t afraid to shoot after hitting that first one.

“I’d been struggling a little with my game. I’d like to think I’m coming around. We played great as a team in this tournament. We all came together. It didn’t matter who scored. We passed the ball around and got it to the open shooter.’’

South’s Tyler Moore also hit three treys. Two were from NBA range. He finished with 11 points and Dustin Sims got 10.

Tyler Ashworth led the way in rebounds with nine as South won the board battle 32-20. The South scoring was distributed among 10 players, bringing a smile to Pendleton’s face.

“It was a heckuva way to end the year 2008,’’ he said. “Our defense did well enough tonight to keep us in contention. In fact, we got after it pretty well in all three tournament games. Offensively, we did well scoring fast break baskets in transition.

“I told the kids in the dressing room they’ve now got to get focused on Big 9 Conference play. We’ll be playing Dobyns-Bennett on Tuesday.’’

Spencer Bradley, a super sub, was the top scorer for the Cyclones (8-5) with 14 points. Clint Hoilman added 10.

“We had matchup problems against South,’’ Elizabethton coach Marty Street said. “Defensively, we had a lot of mismatches. We even tried three posts and an all-guard lineup at different times.

“We didn’t play well. All teams change — we’re hoping to get better. South has a pretty good team and deserved to win. We couldn’t execute what we wanted to on defense. If (the Rebels) didn’t score outside, they’d hit a putback or something.’’

In the consolation game, Mitchell County (8-4) came out firing 3-pointers against defending champion Morristown West (5-7) and won 69-56. The Mountaineers from Bakersville, N.C., hit six 3-pointers in succession to open the contest.

“We got out of control the first two nights,’’ Mitchell County coach Daron Williams said. “Tonight, we penetrated and kicked the ball out for open shots. It sort of set the tone for us by making those 3-pointers early in the game.

“This was a good tournament. The quality of basketball is good over here.’’

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