TUNNEL HILL —
Three players for White County High School’s boys basketball team did quite a number on Dalton’s defense.
Cade Crosland, Kordell Henderson and Dalton Nash combined for 71 points and didn’t need any other scoring help to beat the Catamounts. White County traveled from Sparta, Tenn. to Northwest Whitfield’s gym and beat Dalton 75-60 in the first round of the three-day State Farm Christmas Classic tournament Thursday.
Henderson led all players with 34 points, Nash added 23 and Crosland helped with another 14. Only three other players for White County (10-1) scored.
“That’s my three main scorers,” White County coach Eric Mitchell said. “Everyone else plays their roles well. We’re off to a pretty good start.”
In other games from the tournament: Coahulla Creek outlasted Howard (Tenn.) 56-52; Walker Valley (Tenn.) won 56-25 against Murray County and the host Bruins fell 66-52 to Riverdale.
Against White County, Dalton (2-3) grabbed a 19-18 lead with Mark Sims’ steal and layup halfway through the second quarter. That was the last lead for the Cats.
Henderson’s 3-pointer made it 23-19 with 3:39 before halftime and White County led 33-27 at the break.
White County’s 2-3 zone gave Dalton fits in the first half, and Mitchell said that worked against Dalton’s “inside-oriented” offense. Dalton coach Mike Duffie explained the best way to beat a 2-3 zone is to move the ball and have guards cut through the middle and along the baseline. After that, you have to make shots. Dalton shot 5-for-21 from 3-pointers but 19-of-36 on other attempts.
“When we got the ball in there, we scored,” he said. “It was making the one more pass.”
White County’s lead stretched to double digits, 40-29, when Crosland nailed a 3-pointer with 6:07 left in the third quarter. Lyle Durham brought Dalton to within eight, 46-38, after making one of two free throws with 3:36 left, but Nash’s 3-pointer on the next possession ended the Cats’ last hopes and started a game-clinching 12-4 run.
Braxton Thomas led Dalton with 16 points. Sims added 15 and Emier Bowman tallied 13.
It was Dalton’s third consecutive loss — all playing teams that clinched their 10th wins of the season — after losing to Gilmer and Alabama’s Section. White County finished this game shooting 48 percent on 3-pointers.
“About five of them were deep and contested,” Duffie said. “We’ve just got to play better defense. Our last three games we’ve lost and the other team hit about 10 3’s on us. We have to change the way we play, I guess.”
Duffie added playing in holiday tournaments is about “finding out what we can and can’t do.
“I told them, ‘We may have to adjust some things,’” he said. “We may need to make some changes. These tournament games will tell us a lot about where we’re headed, and then we’ll have a week to prepare for region games.”
Dalton plays Murray County today at 4 p.m.
• Coahulla Creek boys 56, Howard (Tenn.) 52: After building a seven-point lead entering the fourth quarter, the Colts were clinging to a one-point lead in the final minutes.
Coahulla Creek never gave up that lead and made a little history for the third-year school. It is the first time the boy’s basketball team has ever been above .500. The Colts are now 6-5 on the year.
“I think it wasn’t necessarily the prettiest game to watch on either side,” Coahulla Creek coach Matthew Queener said. “They had a kid who got them back into the game in the fourth quarter.”
The Colts led after each quarter — 11-7 after the first, 24-15 at halftime and 42-35 entering the last — and Levi Wilson led with 19 points. Dee McCord added 14, and Michael Ward led with 10 rebounds.
“I don’t know that either side was hitting a lot of shots,” Queener said.
Coahulla Creek plays at 8:30 p.m. today against Riverdale, while Howard plays Northwest at 5:30 p.m.
• Riverdale boys 66, Northwest 52: Despite leading 17-11 after the opening quarter, the Bruins (4-4) watched their advantage dissipate by halftime as Riverdale grabbed a 28-25 lead at the break with a half-court 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Levi Mosteller had 13 points for Northwest and Tevin McDaniel added 10 points and seven steals. Caleb Branson helped with nine points.
Riverdale led 46-40 entering the final quarter. Northwest coach Ryan Richards said his team chipped the fourth quarter deficit to four points but free throws kept the Bruins at bay.
“We struggled with foul trouble all night long,” Richards said. “We had a couple starters out of the game early. Once we felt comfortable putting them back on the floor, I think they were a little stiff. Levi Mosteller came in and played a lot of minutes for us and played great.”
• Walker Valley (Tenn.) boys 56, Murray County 25: Wyatt Stuckey had seven points and Alex Hicks added six points as the Indians (1-9) fell behind 20-3 in the first quarter, 30-10 at halftime and 43-18 entering the final period.
Murray County coach Greg Linder said Walker Valley’s early lead “set the tone” and despite playing better in the second quarter, the Indians “had a setback” overall.
“My main goal — and I have this goal every year for the tournament — is not so much to worry about our opponent but about us and how we’re playing,” Linder said. “We have an opportunity to play three games and improve as a team. ... We didn’t have a lot of energy and we can’t afford to do that.”
• Johnson Central (Ky.) girls 60, Northwest Whitfield 57: In a game that went back and fourth throughout the fourth, the Lady Bruins (9-2) led by four points in the fourth quarter in the opening round of the Smoky Mountain Classic tournament in Gatlinburg, Tenn. but let it slip away. With Johnson Central leading by a point in the waning minutes, Northwest got a steal, but the Lady Bruins turned it right back over. Johnson Central made game-clinching free throws to end Northwest’s seven-game winning streak.
“It was quite apparent we haven’t been in many close ball games,” Northwest coach Greg Brown said. “Our inexperience in a tight game showed. It was a good game and it was tied back and forth all night. That is good. We need to be in games like that. I’m not mad, I just want us to learn from it.”
Halle Ford and Mallory Souther each scored 14 points, while Ford also had five assists. Macy Weeks scored 12 points, and Mary Kate Allen tallied seven rebounds.
Northwest plays at 1 p.m. today against Tennessee’s Smith County.
• Heritage-Catoosa boys 61, Christian Heritage 42: In first-round play of the Alfa Insurance Mistletoe Madness tournament at North Murray High School, Christian Heritage coach Anthony Moseley classified his team’s performance as the worst in either of the two seasons coaching the program.
“We played the worst game we could’ve played,” he said. “We played horrible. We couldn’t make a shot. We couldn’t make a rebound. We couldn’t block out. We didn’t rebound. We played horrible.
“Hopefully, we can use it as a learning experience and see the things we did wrong.”
Chase Tidwell and Tyler Tipton were the leading scorers for the Lions (4-4), but Moseley didn’t know how many points either player scored.
Christian Heritage plays Morris Innovative at 5:30 p.m. today at Bagley Middle School in the consolation bracket.
• Calhoun girls 89, Christian Heritage 55: Sarah Massengale had 24 points and pulled down 15 rebounds, but Calhoun’s full-court press wore the Lady Lions down in another first-round game from the Mistletoe Madness tournament.
Christian Heritage (1-9) led early in the second quarter before getting outscored 26-15 to trail 42-25 at the end of the first half. Pressley Poag added 11 points and six assists.
“We were very proud of our effort,” CHS coach Heather Lowery said. “They got us with some fatigue. We didn’t do a bad job breaking the press, but they just wore us out. They shot the ball well, but we are making some great strides. There are some good things happening.”
The Lady Lions will play at 7 p.m. tonight in the consolation bracket of the tournament against Gilmer at Bagley Middle School.
In the tournament’s other Thursday game, Gordon Lee’s boys won 66-31 against Sonoraville.