Dobyns-Bennett's Coty Sensabaugh, center, passes out of a double team by Morristown East during Saturday's Region 1-AAA game at the Buck Van Huss Dome. Photo by Ned Jilton II.
KINGSPORT - Dobyns-Bennett basketball coach Charlie Morgan constantly preaches to his players about being mentally tough. His dressing-room message Saturday night must have penetrated.
The 10th-ranked Indians (22-8) breezed past Morristown East's Hurricanes 86-46 in the first round of the Region 1-AAA tournament.
This was one of four satellite games played to determine the semifinalists as the tourney moves Tuesday to Sullivan South.
D-B advances to play fifth-ranked Greeneville (32-2) at 7:45 p.m. Tennessee High (26-9) meets Science Hill (30-7) at 6 p.m. The winners earn TSSAA sectional berths.
"We were hitting on all cylinders,'' Morgan said. "That poker was sizzling a little bit at times. Mental toughness is a big part of the game, and we've had to play through some things since that long layoff.
"We weren't sharp against Volunteer and we seemed to stand around against Tennessee High.''
D-B's Logan Williamson, a 6-foot-2, 203-pound center, enjoyed his finest hour. He scored a career-high 26 points to lead the charge.
Williamson hit 12 of 14 floor shots and had 25 points at the close of the third quarter.
"I just needed a good game and I put it together,'' he said. "(The Hurricanes) were kind of weak in the area where I was playing. I just took advantage of it.
"The ball kept coming to me and I put it in the basket. Morristown was not as big and physical as the teams we'd been playing.''
Williamson, Coty Sensabaugh and Josef Throp combined to score 56 points.
Sensabaugh, whose return to the lineup at midseason changed the Indians' fortunes, had 18 points. He was 4-for-9 from the field and 8-for-10 at the foul line. The 6-1, 180-pound senior also had six steals and seven assists.
With Throp controlling the throttle, D-B's fast-break attack moved at high speed. He scored 12 points and added five assists.
"We had a chance to run, and we like that kind of game,'' Throp said. "We like a fast pace. We played a solid game tonight. The defense was good.''
D-B executed 21 steals against the 'Canes.
"We forced some first-half turnovers and were able to get layups,'' Morgan said. "We shot a lot better than we did in the other two games since the layoff.
"Logan was the difference for us inside. He is a hard worker and stays after it. If we get that kind of performance out of him, we'll be in most games.''
Williamson was 8-for-9 with 17 points at halftime. His quick-handed maneuvers enabled D-B to break on top 49-23.
M-East showed signs of a comeback in the third quarter, only to see Williamson go to work again. His three straight baskets gave D-B the spark to open a 61-28 margin.
The Indians outshot M-East from the field 56 percent to 43 percent. D-B held a 23-16 board advantage, with Williamson's five rebounds topping the chart.
It marked an end to Calvin Decker's coaching career. Already M-East's athletic director, he's also been appointed assistant principal and will not be allowed to coach.
"We're better than we showed,'' Decker said, "but we got it handed to us by a much better team.
"I'm peeved right now. It won't hit me until next November how I really feel about giving it up.''
Decker had been in coaching 18 years - the last 13 as head coach.
Morgan well knows what a challenge his Indians will face against Greeneville. Antoine Wiggins, a 6-7 wing, scored 30 points in a satellite win over Volunteer.
"Greeneville has a solid team,'' Morgan said. "We may have to guard Wiggins with two players. We'll have to get a game plan.''