On Tuesday night, the Indians won their 15th game in a row, beating Sevier County 53-47 in the Region 1-AAA semifinals at Jefferson County.
The victory moved D-B (21-8) into Thursday’s championship contest against Jefferson County and earned the Tribe a berth in next Monday’s TSSAA sectionals.
“It’s not how you start that counts, but how you finish,” said D-B coach Charlie Morgan. “Now in close games the guys don’t panic. Tonight we had some guys come out and really play well for us. ”
The Indians had four players in double figures against the Smoky Bears, led by John Fulkerson’s 12 points. He also pulled down six rebounds and blocked three shots.
Paul Gadson added 11 points with Makale Foreman and Matt Halvorsen scoring 10 apiece.
Sevier County (21-10) led 5-2 early in the first period before the Indians went on an 11-2 run to move on top 13-7. When the quarter closed, D-B found itself ahead 16-12.
Using an effective zone defense to stifle the Tribe, the Smoky Bears moved on top 21-20 midway through the second stanza. D-B rallied, though, and by halftime held a narrow 25-23 advantage.
“We knew coming down here that they would use that zone,” said the Tribe’s Tyleke Love, who pulled down 10 rebounds. “We just had to be patient.”
That patience paid off in the third quarter and the Indians moved out to a 41-32 lead heading into the final eight minutes of play.
Sevier County roared out of the gate to start the fourth quarter. An 8-0 run by the Smoky Bears pulled them to within 41-40 with 3:54 left in the contest.
Fulkerson and Love answered by producing key baskets that stretched D-B’s lead to 45-50 with 2:47 left.
Jacob Whaley, who had a game-high 18 points, hit a bucket with 2:30 showing on the clock to bring Sevier County to within three at 45-42.
But again the Tribe responded. An 8-0 run widened the lead to 11 points, 53-42, and gave D-B enough cushion to withstand a late push by the Smoky Bears.
“We knew that Sevier County would be aggressive and were good shooters,” Gadson said. “When they made that rally in the fourth quarter, I just told myself that we were not going to lose another game in the fourth quarter. We just had to step up.”
Next up will be a third meeting with the Jefferson County Patriots, with whom D-B split during the regular season.
“We want to play to our potential against them,” Gadson said. “We’re connecting as a team right now and feel good about our chances.”
Jefferson County (29-4) upended Tennessee High 58-44 in the second regional semifinal contest to earn the right to host D-B in the championship game.