Out in the cold: Sans McCall, Oak Ridge too much for Maryville
By Grant Ramey | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
OAK RIDGE — Mark Eldridge found out 15 minutes before tipoff of the Region 2-AAA championship that his Maryville basketball team would be without a sick Clark McCall.
Five minutes into the game, Maryville saw just how big of a void the Rebels’ leading scorer and leading rebounder left in the lineup.
Rian Hall’s 16 points led a fiery Oak Ridge attack, helping his team to a 16-0 lead to start the game and from there the Wildcats made the quick start stand up in a 71-54 win over Maryville for the region title.
Hall was one of five Wildcats in double-figures on the night. Cory Fagan added 15, Issac Merian had 12 and Jaylin Henderson and Rashad Grey added 11 each.
Maryville was led by TJ Kimble’s game-high 20-point effort. Bryan Landers had 14 and Nick Myers and Isaac Edmiston each had 5.
Both teams stay alive in postseason play.
Maryille (27-5) will travel to Johnson City on Monday night for a 7 p.m. sectional round game against Region 1-AAA champion Science Hill (37-2). Oak Ridge (27-5) will host Sevier County (28-5).
The winners of each game will advance to next week’s TSSAA state tournament in Murfreesboro.
“I was proud of them simply for the fact that, with your leading rebounder and your leading scorer out, that affects you,” Eldridge told The Daily Times after Thursday night’s loss.
McCall led Maryville with 22 points in a semifinal win over Powell on Tuesday. Against Oak Ridge it was Grant Wilson starting in place of McCall, who became ill during pregame warmups.
The Wildcats scored on their first three possessions — field goals from Gray and Merian and a 3-pointer from Fagan — to quickly build a 7-0 lead.
Oak Ridge would add a bucket from Hall, three more from Merian and another from Henderson to make it 16-0 with just over three minutes left in the first quarter.
“Just keep playing,” Eldridge told his team, “do what we do.”
Landers broke the ice for Maryville with the Rebels’ first bucket at the 2:25 mark of the first quarter.
Kimble didn’t score the first of his 20 points until 2:45 left in the first half, with Maryville trailing 33-16. He scored 9 of Maryville’s next 11.
The Rebels cut the Oak Ridge lead down to 48-41 on a Kimble 3-point play after a pair of treys from Landers, but that was as close as it would get.
“We cut it to 7 and had the ball in the third by doing what we do,” Eldridge said. “We had a great look at a 2 to cut it to (a) 4 (point lead) but we missed it.
“Then they made their run.”
It was a 12-0 run that spanned the close the third quarter and opening minutes the fourth for Oak Ridge, building the lead back to 60-41 before Tyler Vaught added a 3 for Maryville.
Johnson City, where Maryville will try to get back on track Monday night, is where the Rebels’ season ended last year, in a 69-60 sectional loss to Science Hill.
“Monday night,” Eldridge said, “is the most important game we’ll play.”