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Semifinal victories set up Tribe-Trailblazer rematch in Region 1 championship

Bill Lane • Mar 3, 2010 at 12:00 AM

MORRISTOWN — The Region 1-AAA basketball championship showdown between Dobyns-Bennett (20-11) and Daniel Boone (21-9) will be a repeat of the District 1 boys finals.

D-B gave Sevier County the heave-ho Tuesday night 54-48 and Daniel Boone defeated Science Hill for the second time in the postseason, 66-62.

In reaching the region title game, both D-B and Boone qualified for the TSSAA sectionals.

D-B forced 16 turnovers to stun Sevier County. The Indians built an 18-point lead by forcing the Smoky Bears to start their offense several feet beyond the perimeter.

D-B played rings around the Bears for three quarters but the commanding lead almost slipped away late in the game. However, the Indians regrouped and held off the District 2 champions with some skillful ball handling in the closing minutes.

The 6-foot-4 Adam Denison and 5-8 Darius Davis, D-B’s senior Mutt-and-Jeff combination, spearheaded the victory. Denison got 16 points, hit the boards hard and played an outstanding floor game. Davis directed the offense superbly and kept the Bears back on their heels with his defensive aggression.

Sevier County (27-6) went on a 15-0 run in the fourth quarter, getting the deficit down to 41-38.

“Guys, you can’t panic right now,’’ D-B coach Charlie Morgan told his players in the huddle. “You did some things to get yourselves into this. Do the things we’ve worked on in practice. Come and meet the pass.’’

The Indians warded off the Bears’ comeback attempt.

“Darius was our leader out there tonight,’’ Morgan said. “He did a good job, and so did Adam. I’m proud of this team for their effort in sticking with the game plan. They played hard from start to finish. For a minute there, I thought we were the Easter bunny, trying to give it away.’’

Denison said his team is on a mission.

“Nobody knew who we were coming into this season,” he said. “We wanted to prove we’re just as good as any other D-B team. Last year at this time, it was over. We knew we were the better team tonight but just had to prove it.’’

Davis said defense was the key to winning. “Defense sets up offense, and that’s what we do. Sevier County had bigger players and we put pressure on the perimeter to keep them from getting inside.’’

D-B held Sevier County’s 6-8 center, Jordan Hendrickson, scoreless.

Boone sent Science Hill packing with two strong individual performances. Travis Keever, the heartbeat of the attack, scored 19 points and dead-eye Jordan Gray added 18 points with a steady stream of outside shots.

“Travis has played extremely well in the tournaments, scoring and distributing the ball,’’ Boone coach Ryan Arnold said. “Jordan made clutch shots, as usual. “We have unbelievable kids.

“They’re not afraid to play anybody.’’

Keever said the second half belonged to Boone.

“It was a big game and we didn’t calm down until after halftime,” he noted. “We outhustled and outplayed Science Hill.’’

Gray said Boone’s confidence continues to build.

“If we keep this up, we’re going to make it all the way,’’ he said. “We’ve been giving it 110 percent.’’

Arnold celebrated his 32nd birthday.

“It’s the best birthday present I could have had,’’ he said of the win. “Twice in high school I lost games on my birthday (at Johnson County).’’

Boone got 24 points from its bench.

“Several guys went in and played well,’’ Arnold said. “This definitely validates our first tournament win over Science Hill. A lot of people thought that one was a fluke. I felt as long as we stayed in this game we would have the upper hand. We managed to slow down Science Hill’s team in transition.’’

Jaylen Allen’s 19 points and Shannon Hale’s 18 led the Hilltoppers (27-7).

“We didn’t make plays that we’d made all season,’’ Science Hill coach Ken Cutlip said. “I look at three areas that are important to winning in the postseason — rebounding, free throws and turnovers. We didn’t win in these as decisively as we needed to.”

Because the two finalists are from District 1, the region tourney shifts to David Crockett for Thursday’s 7 p.m. title game. D-B beat Boone twice in the regular season but lost to the ’Blazers in the district finals.

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