KINGSPORT — Dobyns-Bennett basketball coach Charlie Morgan insists that his players do two things: play tight defense and find an open shooter on offense.
The Indians (19-11) did both of these extremely well Saturday night and defeated Morristown East 88-64, advancing to the second round of the Region 1-AAA tournament.
All five starters scored in double figures. Tyler Ailshie led the way with 21 points, followed by Darius Davis (20), Adam Denison (17), Juwan Johnson (10) and Ben Riggs (10).
“It’s probably the first time this has happened all season,’’ Morgan said. “This was a complete game. The guys shared the ball well. I was pleased with every phase.’’
The Indians shot a blazing 61 percent from the field. Davis was 8-of-10, Ailshie 8-of-11, Denison 6-of-11, Johnson 4-of-8 and Riggs 4-of-9.
“We got the ball out, pushed it down the floor and tried to wear (the Hurricanes) down a little bit,’’ Morgan said. “We did a good job of setting screens. In tournament play, you need to do this because it gives you offensive options.’’
Ailshie, the playmaker, took charge early in the game after D-B fell behind 4-0. Precision passes enabled the Indians to hit a stream of layups.
“We moved the ball really well,’’ Ailshie said. “Coach Morgan stressed feeding the post. We got the ball inside a lot.’’
Defensively, the Indians targeted Aaron Wheeler and Austin Gardner. Wheeler scored 22, Gardner 15.
“We wanted to make sure we kept those two in check,’’ Morgan said. “Both scored quite a few points the other two times we faced them. Wheeler got most of his points tonight in the paint.’’
D-B’s pressure defense caught the Hurricanes off guard at times, and East had 18 turnovers. The Tribe executed 13 steals — three each by Riggs and Johnson.
“Their press really bothered us,’’ Hurricanes coach Dag Berquist said. “We didn’t look to the sideline enough.
“We dug a pretty good hole in the first quarter but cut the margin down some in the second. We didn’t make any strides in the third. We got in a situation in the fourth where we had to press. When you’re trying to press a stronger and more athletic team, it usually doesn’t turn out good for you.
“Our press pretty much turned into a layup drill for them.’’
The teams split in the regular season. Both games were decided in the final seconds.
“I think we scored enough tonight to win a game,’’ Berquist said. “When you give up 88 points, it’s kind of hard to win.’’
D-B outrebounded the visitors 28-21 with Ailshie collecting eight.
Denison added to the excitement with a pair of crowd-pleasing dunks. Davis and Derrick Steele each had six assists.
“The hardest-working team is the last one to surrender,’’ Morgan said. “We’re still playing.’’
D-B will take on Sevier County at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday in the region semifinals at Morristown’s Isenberg-Siler Gym. Sevier County eliminated Tennessee High 60-52.
This was win No. 2,083 for D-B since the program started. The Indians should be in position next season to reach 2,100.
East finished the season 19-11.