published Sunday, February 23rd, 2014

Rams clamp down, rout Polk County

By Greg Carter

Moving toward the serious rounds of the TSSAA basketball playoffs, Tyner boys' coach Gerald Harris knows any weakness will be chopped at by opponents. A weak spot can equal a loss.

Saturday night's 73-29 Region 3-AA win over Polk County provided a perfect opportunity to shore up Tyner's defensive intensity.

The Rams (22-3) applied a vise grip on the visiting Wildcats and advanced to Tuesday's Region 3-AA semifinal at East Ridge against the host Pioneers.

"Defensive intensity will take you a long way in this tournament, and I don't know any other way to do it,'' Harris said. "We did a good job early of getting on the same page. We started the game just the way I'd hoped we would.''

DeQuan Hardwick got the Rams rolling offensively early, scoring 10 points in the first quarter. Sadik Spence added 13 in the first half.

Tyner led 23-9 at the end of the first period and 38-11 at halftime. The score was 50-11 by the end of the third period.

Spence led all scorers with 15, while Landon Strickland added nine for the Rams. Polk County, which finished the season at 8-22, was led by Devin Weber with 11 points and Coty Groomes with eight.

Harris said playing a lower-seeded team can be tricky.

"We wanted the pressure to be intense early,'' he said. "What we really want is to make them think we are as good as they think we are. That comes with good play early in the game.''

Tyner has now won 10 straight games and has yet to lose to a district or region opponent.

Contact Greg Carter at sports@timesfreepress.com

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