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Tough Arby’s road takes Tribe to best showing since 2001

By STEVE WILMOTH, TriCitiesSports.com • Dec 31, 2017 at 2:01 AM

BRISTOL, Tenn. — The road to fifth place in the 35th Arby’s Classic took Dobyns-Bennett through four states.

The final stop came Saturday afternoon in Viking Hall where the Indians led from start to finish in an 80-63 victory over Columbia, Ga.

View the photo gallery from the game

The Tribe started the tournament with a first-round upset of Mater Academy of Florida before landing in the fifth-place bracket after a loss to Columbus, Miss. On Friday, the Indians earned the shot at fifth place with a win over Lee from Huntsville, Ala.

“It speaks to our toughness, the route we had and the teams we have to go through this week,” said Indians coach Chris Poore. “Our guys showed up every night.”

The fifth-place showing was the best for D-B since 2001 and, combined with Gate City’s sixth-place finish earlier Saturday, marked the first time since that same year that two local teams finished among the tournament’s the top six.

“This is really special,” said Tribe senior Hayden Cassell. “Me and my teammates are just really glad that we can represent Dobyns-Bennett in a positive way.”

For the fourth time in as many games in the 35th annual tournament, the Indians were significantly outsized, yet fought for a 32-25 advantage on the glass.

And for the second straight game, the Indians countered the bigger opposition with spectacular offensive execution. Against the Eagles, the Tribe had five players score in double figures.

“It seems like the bigger the challenge, the higher they rise,” Poore said. “I’m really proud of their effort and their unselfish basketball.”

The Indians assisted on 19 of their 25 made field goals in the game.

“Whenever we share the ball as a team like I know we can, it’s going to be hard to beat us,” Cassell said.

D-B scored the first eight points of the game, six on a pair of 3-pointers from Brody Potter, and never trailed.

Potter hit all three of his 3s in the first half, finishing with 13 for the tournament. For good measure, he then finished as runner-up in the 3-point contest that followed the win over the Eagles.

The contest was tied only once, 20-20. D-B then outscored Columbia 18-7 down the first-half stretch to earn a 38-27 halftime lead.

The cushion grew as high as 56-33 in the third quarter with Marae Foreman and Brit Thomas both knocking down a pair of 3s in the frame.

Foreman finished with a game-high 22 points with four 3-pointers. Thomas knocked down a trio from behind the arc to finish with 11 points. For the game, the Tribe connected on 10 of 17 attempts from long range.

“Coach always tell me to attack and finish or dish to my teammates,” Foreman said. “Tonight they were really knocking down shots. We know who is hot and we try to get them the ball and get out of the way and let them score.”

Potter finished with 17 points. Riamello Wadsworth shook off foul trouble to cap an all-tournament performance with 12 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and two steals.

The 6-foot-1 Cassell was a workhorse against the bigger Eagles inside, tallying 14 points and grabbing five rebounds to go with a pair of assists.

“Hayden brings his lunch pail to work every night,” Poore said. “He goes out there and give everything he can. A lot of times outmatched and his position, yet he finds a way to be effective.”

Columbia did chip away the Indians’ lead, getting its deficit down to 11 at one point — 65-54 on a Lorenzo McGhee 3-pointer. But the Indians never got passive on the offensive end and quickly rebuilt the lead to put away the game.

“The mentality is that what got us there we are going to keep doing,” Poore said. “Our guys did a good job of stepping up and taking big shots even when we had a little bit of a lead.”

The win gave D-B three victories in the Arby’s Classic, and the Indians have now won seven of their past eight games to improve to 12-5 heading back to conference play next week.

“We still have some improvement, but we certainly take away a lot of positives,” Poore said. “This tournament is very important to us and I think we made Kingsport proud.

“But overall, it’s just another part of the journey and hopefully we’re not done yet.”

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