HENDERSONVILLE — Mt. Juliet’s boys made history last week by defeating defending District 9-AAA champion Lebanon 63-50 for the Golden Bears’ first-ever district crown, completing an MJ sweep after the Lady Bears won the night before.
“It was a great night for the guys and all the guys who played before,” said Troy Allen, whose 13th year at Mt. Juliet was interrupted by a mid-season hernia operation, costing him several games on the bench. “We had a great week of practice, a great week of the tournament. We were locked in.”
The first half was a battle with Lebanon leading 14-12 at the first-quarter break. Mt. Juliet was up 30-26 going into halftime before outscoring the Blue Devils 15-9 in the third period for a 45-35 margin. The fourth quarter went no better for LHS, which trailed as much as 56-37.
“Third quarter, we had some turnovers, had some illegals screens, things of that nature that changed the complexion of the game,” Lebanon coach Jim McDowell said. “Mt. Juliet did a good job of taking away some of the things we wanted to do.
“In the first half, we had some momentum and (Gavin) Wilson hit some big shots when we didn’t do a god job of guarding him. They did a good job of getting the lead, and when they did, they do a good job of setting the tempo.”
Both teams will be at home for first-round Region 5-AAA action at 7 p.m. Saturday. The Golden Bears will welcome Kenwood while the Blue Devils entertain Rossview at Campbell Brandon Gym/Hester Gibbs Court. Winners will advance to semifinal action next Tuesday at Northeast.
Noah Mulaski’s steal and layup to Lebanon in front 14-12 with over a minute left in the first quarter, a margin which lasted into the second.
Two Jordan Lockridge free throws brought the Golden Bears into a 14-14 tie and two from the line by Isaac Stephens put Mt. Juliet in front.
Mulaski’s three-point play drew the Devils into a 20-20 tie. Zion Logue’s putback put Lebanon back in front and a long two-pointer by Mulaski opened a four-point spread.
But Mt. Juliet closed the first half with an 8-2 run. A Gavin Wilson three-pointer put the Bears in front 26-24 and his two free throws made it a four-point spread. Mulaski’s driving layup sliced the difference to two going into the break.
Another Logue layup brought the Blue Devils within 36-34 before Mt. Juliet closed the quarter with 9-1 run to take control. Lockridge hit his first eight free throws of the fourth period to give the Golden Bears breathing room.
Wilson led Mt. Juliet with 22 points from the backcourt, including two threes. Lockridge knocked down 9 of 10 free throws in the fourth quarter on his way to 16 while Stephens finished with 15. Tournament most valuable player Will Pruitt put in four and J.C. Crawford, Bryan Aiken and Riggs Abner two each.
Mulaski led Lebanon with 24 points while Gaven Reasonover added eight, including a pair of threes. Logue scored six, Jeremiah Hastings five, Malcolm Logue two and Eddie Jackson a free throw.
“Isaac Stephens did a pretty good job on (Jackson), beat him to his spots and trying to limit his touches,” Allen said.
Top-seed Mt. Juliet rolls to region win
MT. JULIET — Mt. Juliet enjoyed the fruit of being a No. 1 seed by taking out Kenwood with some ease 58-38 in the opening round of the Region 5-AAA tournament Saturday night.
The Golden Bears, who have twice knocked off a No. 1 as a No. 4 during coach Troy Allen’s 13 seasons, led 16-7 following the first quarter, 29-18 at halftime and 43-28 through three periods as they moved into Tuesday’s semifinal against West Creek, which knocked out Gallatin 54-42, at Northeast.
“I never felt bad about (tonight’s game), but I was wanting to put them away and we never could until late,” Allen said.
Big man Isaac Stephens scored 22 points to lead Mt. Juliet while Jordan Lockridge notched nine, Gavin Wilson seven, Bryan Aiken six, Will Pruitt five, Reggie Grimes four and Gage Wells two.
Kenwood’s season ended at 13-12.
Wildcats knocked off by Northeast
CLARKSVILLE — Wilson Central hung within striking distance of District 10-AAA champion Northeast until the defending Region 5-AAA champion Eagles pulled away in the fourth quarter of a 55-39 win over Wilson Central in the opening round of the regional Saturday night.
Starting some 20 minutes late due to a tardy official, Northeast led 12-10 following the first quarter, 27-19 at halftime and 35-27 going into the fourth before Alec Kegler connected on eight fourth-quarter free throws and 12 points in all down the stretch as the Eagles advanced with a 26-5 record to Tuesday’s 7:30 p.m. semifinal with Lebanon on their floor.
Kegler totaled 28 points while Jaleel Fletcher finished with 19, including two first-half three-pointers and eight during the second quarter.
Gavin Johnson, possibly the only Wildcat to play for all three of Wilson Central’s three head coaches – Troy Bond, Tyler Brown and current coach Chris Carney – scored 11 points in his WCHS finale. Kyzick Schweppe sank three first-half three-pointers while Kito Aruh added eight, twin Kene Aruh six in the second half, Daniel Jackson four in the fourth and Naz Czeskleba a first-period free throw as Central ended a 13-18 season.