South’s boys won over Volunteer 64-47 in a Big 9 Conference basketball mismatch dictated by unusual circumstances.
Volunteer’s girls came out on top in a double-overtime preliminary 67-62, thanks to the heroics of Shanque Price.
At a distinct disadvantage before the game even started, Volunteer’s boys showed some spunk by battling the heavily favored Rebels to the end with a makeshift lineup.
Seven Volunteer players had been ejected from their game at David Crockett on Friday night after a bench-emptying melee. They were suspended two games by the TSSAA. Falcons coach Todd Whittemore was forced to promote several jayvee players and freshmen to fill out the roster.
A fight erupted between Crockett’s 6-foot-10 Zach Garland and Volunteer’s 6-8 Cameron Trent. Spontaneously, six other Falcons got involved in the incident.
“Our kids went on the floor and we’ve paid the penalty,’’ Whittemore said. “We got outmanned by South tonight.
“(The Rebels) didn’t play down to us. They played at their level. They were too big for us inside and shot well from outside.’’
The Tylers were hot for South. Tyler Ashworth, a 6-5 forward with college potential, fired in 21 points. Tyler Moore followed with 14.
“That’s the second game in a row Ashworth has scored big,’’ South coach Mark Pendleton said. “He had 28 against Sullivan East.’’
Pendleton was concerned that his fast-breaking Rebels might take the game for granted.
“These kids had a pretty good focus. Any time a school is going through difficult times, it could go either way,’’ he said. “I’m proud of the effort they gave. We were lucky to have a little cushion. Unlike a few other games, we were able to hold on to it.’’
Volunteer’s leading scorers were Aaron Bennett with 14 points and Ethan Pearcy with 13.
The crowd was set abuzz by the thrill-a-minute girls game.
After trailing by as many as 12 points and consistently by 10, the Lady Falcons came alive in the final minutes of the game to catch up and force an overtime. Fierce competition on both sides led to a second overtime.
Freshman point guard Ashley Lindholm spearheaded Volunteer’s comeback. She scored 20 points before fouling out.
That left it up to Price, who scored 21, to show the way in the overtime sessions.
It was Price who brought the Lady Falcons even at 49 with a free throw just 47 seconds before regulation expired.
Her 40-foot desperation shot tied the score at 60 as the buzzer sounded, sending the game to double overtime.
“I came down with a rebound with 4.2 seconds remaining after a missed free throw on the other end of the court,’’ Price said. “I dribbled down the floor knowing I didn’t have much time. I looked at the clock as I crossed mid-court and shot the ball. I was so excited when I saw it go in.’’
Volunteer coach Jerry Myers said: “We were out of options. It was the only shot we had.’’
South coach Josh Tate envisioned the shot coming.
“It was a 40-foot prayer,’’ Tate noted. “I knew it was good from the time the ball left Price’s hands. I could see it going as soon as she released the ball.’’
Price put Volunteer ahead to stay, 64-62, with two free throws and an 8-foot jumper in the lane. Mykala Porter finished the job with two free throws in the last 45 seconds.
The Lady Falcons’ miracle comeback overshadowed an outstanding performance by South’s Makensey Campbell, who got eight of her team-leading 18 points after regulation.
Tate bemoaned the loss as another in a series of hard-luck finishes.
“We’ve had at least seven overtime games. This is the second one to go two overtimes. We’ve won just one of the seven,’’ he said.
Myers said it capped a successful week for the Lady Falcons.
“We won two of three games and played well in the other,” he noted. “We had a lot of people making big plays tonight. We’ve shot free throws well lately and this game was no exception.’’