Whitwell, Tenn. – Whitwell High School and South Pittsburg High School had to postpone their originally scheduled meeting on the hardwood before the Christmas break. That anticipation was contained until Friday night
when SPHS Pirates made the pilgrimage to Whitwell’s home court. Whitwell’s Lady Tigers held their own despite a tightly contested first half to emerge triumphant 49-33. The visiting Pirate boys team carried a lead throughout the matchup to take a 60-32 win over the Tigers.
For the boys, South Pittsburg came out dominating on the offensive side of the ball with six players contributing to a 19-7 quarter for the Pirates. In the opening quarter, Kam Wellington found his range from the three-point arc twice. Nas Starkey battled with Whitwell’s Jace Wooden and Ryan Levan for the rebounds on both sides of the court. Levan dropped a wildly contested layup with what seemed like plenty of contact, but would not get the call, however, Wooden and Ben Minter each earned a call a piece to the free throw line, going 3-for-4 between them for the inaugural quarter. The Tigers showed a spark in the second quarter with Wooden continuing to challenge inside the paint for six points worth of field goals and a 3-for-4 solo performance for the second quarter from the free-throw line. Whitwell’s Bubba Smith found himself with some space from long-range and landed a three-pointer and an additional field goal. Unfortunately, the rest of the team would go 0-for-4 from the free-throw line, tempering the Tigers’ dent in the lead outscoring the Pirates 14-11 to go into the half trailing 30-21.
The Pirates re-emerged in the third, getting up close and personal on defense and caused multiple turnovers, which they would convert on fast break opportunities. Seemed even as the Tigers would succeed in a rundown for the block it ended up seeing one Pirate or another to the free-throw line. The Pirates did leave plenty of opportunity on the court going 4-for-7 from the free-throw line. The Pirates moved ahead another five points, outscoring the Tigers 12-7 in the third for a 41-28 lead going into the final quarter. The Pirates had most of their bench on the floor for much of the quarter and the bench would post 9 of the team’s 18 points with scoring from JR Hardrick, Alex Phillips, Brett Mashburn, and Kevione Robinson. Unfortunately for the Tigers, nothing seemed to go their way in the fourth. Coin flip shots would bounce out; some no-calls went against them all while the Pirates seemed to be hitting on all cylinders. However, the Tigers also had a 0-for-5 team performance from the line in the final quarter which didn’t help.
This served as the first district matchup for both teams and there will be a fast opportunity to settle the score as they meet again this Friday night at South Pittsburg High School’s “The Pitt.”