The rim on one end of the gymnasium at Hixson High School may still be rocking. For certain much of the crowd was when Howard's Cudjoe Young drove the lane for a thunderous dunk with a little less than two minutes to play in the boys' championship game of the District 6-AA high school basketball tournament Tuesday.
Young's basket came with the Hustlin' Tigers leading by five, and it started a run of seven consecutive points that was enough cushion to enable them to hold off Brainerd 75-64.
Howard (23-5) will host Polk County in one of the Region 3 quarterfinals Saturday. Brainerd (18-12) will host Sequoyah in another.
Center Brandon Walters, who had three dunks, again led the Tigers with 25 points. Young came off their thin bench and scored 12 in addition to providing a defensive spark.
Lorenzo McCauley is out with a sprained ankle and starter Rashad Brummitt had oral surgery recently but is hopeful of being back for the region tournament.
"He's an athlete," Howard coach Walter McGary said of Young. "He gave us a tremendous lift when he was in there. The dunk was just icing on the cake."
The Panthers had a couple of five-point leads early but played from behind the rest of the way after Shalique Cameron's three-point play at 2:18 of the first quarter made it 17-15. He finished with 17 points.
Brainerd stayed within single digits throughout the second half until Howard's late surge.
"We had a breakdown on defense in the last four minutes," Panthers coach Robert High said. "We were supposed to be playing a tight man-to-man, and we let them drive to the basket about five straight times. You can't win like that."
Marques Tipton had four 3-point goals and led the Panthers with 23 points. Substitute Tyree Stubbs chipped in with 10.
Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or firstname.lastname@example.org.