Four teams — all trailing league leader Science Hill by at least two games — entered play Tuesday night nearly deadlocked in a fight for second, but it was the Indians (13-11, 7-3) who emerged feeling best about themselves.
“I thought we played with a lot of energy, and that we had a lot of guys rotating in and doing a lot of good stuff,” said D-B coach Chris Poore. “And coming off a really good practice yesterday, I thought we carried it over and we had a really good game tonight.
“It was probably the best we’ve played.”
Daniel Boone coach Chris Brown could only agree, giving a nod to the 25-point outing of Tribe sharpshooter Abiah Releford, who hit five 3-point jumpers.
“They shot it awfully well, so credit them,” said Brown, whose Trailblazers (13-9, 6-5) could not avoid a season sweep at the hands of D-B. “I told our guys before the game that Abiah was going to be ready to go. He’s a veteran guy who knows what’s at stake, and he got it going. He’s a tough player.”
Indeed, Releford was the best player on the floor on this evening.
“Abiah has been our guy we’ve depended on in big games, and he came through,” Poore said. “He’s been struggling a little here lately, but we’ve been focusing on him and trying to get him to understand that this is his team and his season, and that this team still has a lot to play for.”
Releford, who scored 17 points in the first half to help D-B lead 37-30 at intermission, seemingly got help from everywhere.
Junior forward Jahson Dennis turned in a 16-point game off the bench. Backup freshman guard Jonavan Gillespie nailed three 3s and scored 11 points.
D-B, which made 11 shots from beyond the arc, had some rocky moments in the second quarter when Boone erased an 18-12 deficit by scoring 11 straight points for a brief 30-24 advantage.
But Releford hit three 3s, Dennis made a 14-foot jumper, Jayme Peay scored on a strong move inside off a pass from Gillespie, and the Indians were back in control with their seven-point halftime lead.
“I thought we took a few too many outside shots at that time,” said Brown, who received 27 points from Jared Atkins and 19 from Cade Norris.
BOONE GIRLS GET BIG WIN
The Lady ’Blazers avenged a one-point road loss on Jan. 10 and picked up a major win, 42-37 over the Lady Indians.
Boone (14-9, 8-3) needed to win to have any shot at finishing second in the league and got it done by outplaying D-B in the second half.
The teams entered the fourth quarter tied at 29, but D-B (20-8, 8-2) allowed Boone to score the first six points of the period.
“We were down four points (21-17) at halftime, and so we made some adjustments, obviously, and we talked about winning the second half, which we were able to do,” said Boone coach Beau Hauldren. “And this is big for the girls.
“It moves us closer to where we want to be at the end of the regular season,” Hauldren added.
Senior standout Jaycie Jenkins pushed Boone in the second half, scoring 18 of her game-high 21 points.
“She does that every night,” Hauldren said. “And I’ll tell you who else was big tonight — No. 44, Maddie Bunting. She is getting better and better and better.
“Maddie came over here from Happy Valley for her senior season, and during the preseason all fall she was in here at 6:30 in the morning working out. She’s coming along at just the right time for us here late in the season.”
Jabrea Johnson scored 16 points to lead the Lady Indians.
Boone closes its Big 7 schedule on Friday at home against David Crockett. D-B still has league games left with Science Hill and Cherokee.