SOUTH PITTSBURG, Tenn. — The longest dry spell in District 6-A boys' basketball is over. For the first time in 30 years Sale Creek owns the district tournament championship, after claiming a wild 74-71 win over top-seeded Marion County.
"It's an awesome feeling, to be part of the team that finally won it again," said Panthers senior Chase Janow, who scored a team-high 21 points and was named tournament MVP. "We had a big lead, lost it, then had to come back from pretty far down, but we had been close with them before and that gave us confidence."
Whitwell won the consolation game, rallying from a double-digit second-half deficit to beat Lookout Valley 49-48 on Logan Burdette's running jumper that banked in at the buzzer. The Tigers will now face Arts & Sciences in Saturday's Region 3-A tournament, while Lookout Valley will play Boyd-Buchanan.
Also in the region tournament, Sale Creek will host Grace Academy and Marion will host Copper Basin.
"If we had made free throws it wouldn't have been as close there at the end, but we won't worry about that now," said Sale Creek coach David Helton, whose team made just 7 of 22 free throws in the fourth.
Marion hadn't lost to a district foe in the regular season but needed overtime to hold off Sale Creek in their last meeting.
The Panthers built an 18-point second-quarter lead Wednesday but saw that whittled down to just three by halftime and Marion continued to ride the emotion it had built late in the second quarter to lead by as much as 11 midway through the third.
Sale Creek, which hadn't even advanced to a district title game since 1984, then countered Marion's streak with a 14-2 run to finish the third, capped by Spencer Hodge's layup at the buzzer to reclaim the lead. The Warriors never got closer than three in the fourth quarter.
"I think the pace was more to our liking," Helton said. "We're used to having those streak runs to get a lead and sometimes lose it, but we feel like we're eventually going to wear you down with our depth and the pace and I think that's what we did tonight."
Contact Stephen Hargis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6293.
Stephen has covered local sports in the tri-state area for more than 24 years, having been with the Times Free Press since its inception, and has been an assistant sports editor since 2005. Stephen is among the most decorated writers in the TFP’s newsroom, winning numerous state, regional and national writing awards, including seven in 2013 and a combined 12 in the last two years. He was named one of the top 10 sports writers ...