Coach Steven Redman was a nervous wreck following Signal Mountain's win at Soddy Daisy Tuesday night.
Granted, it was the first win for the Eagles as they somehow survived an incredible comeback by the Trojans, but Redman's mind was on something totally different than the 71-68 final score..
Cody Challener, who finished with eight points and seven rebounds, suffered an apparent head injury late in the fourth quarter. Even though he eventually walked off under his own power, he was in and out of consciousness when the game ended and Redman was waiting for an ambulance to transport him to a local hospital for further examination.
"What a nightmare," Redman said after finally exiting the Signal Mountain dressing room.
"This is the worst I've ever felt after a win. We were up by 16 points, but we have had all kinds of trouble handling the ball and nobody was willing to step up tonight.
"One of our biggest problems is between our ears, but we obviously have a lot to work on. Everything we told them at the end, they didn't do. I guess there are times when you have to win ugly and this was a classic case of that.
"At least we did win and we shot better than we had in the first two games, but we'll get better. Braxton Reese made those last two free throws after he'd missed two on the previous trip, so I was happy about that, but I'm not at all pleased with the way we played," Redman concluded.
B.J. Wilkerson had the hot hand early as he had three straight 3s to give the Eagles an early 11-4 lead.
Soddy Daisy scored nine of the final 12 points in the last two minutes for a 20-19 lead when the first quarter ended.
Grant Hensley scored on a layup with 1:07 left in the second to give Signal Mountain a 31-30 lead and the difference was four at the break when Wilkerson sank another 3 with 31 seconds to play.
The Eagles looked like they might pull away in the third stanza as they had a 41-33 lead following a 3 by Jack Teter with 5:51 showing.
The Trojans responded with an 8-2 run in the next two minutes to get within 43-41 following a short jumper in the lane by Tucker Landreth.
Signal Mountain then scored seven straight for a 50-41 lead and the difference was 54-43 with one quarter remaining.
Reese sank two free throws with 7:05 to play to give the Eagles a 59-44 lead and the difference was 16 at 63-47 about 50 seconds later following a pair of free throws by Wilkerson.
That's when things started clicking for the Trojans.
A 3 by Landreth with 2:09 to play trimmed the lead to 67-62 and the difference was one following back-to-back buckets by Andy Wright and Tre Carter.
Redman was trying his best to call a timeout and ended up with a technical foul in the process with 1:07 to play and the Eagles holding onto a one-point lead.
Wright made both free throws to give the Trojans a 68-67 lead, but the inbounds passed sailed out of bounds to give the Eagles a break.
Lannom Sowell scored on a nice inside move with 53 seconds and was fouled, but couldn't convert the three-point play.
Soddy Daisy then missed on its next possession and Reese went to the line for two charity tosses with 39.4 seconds to play.
He missed them both, but made a pair 27 seconds later to give the Eagles a 71-68 lead.
The Trojans had two long shots at the end, but neither fell as the Eagles hung on for the win.
"I'm happy with the effort, but we're a young team and still have a lot to learn. We battled the whole way, but they just made one more play at the end than we did," said Soddy Daisy coach Kevin Templeton.
"These kids gave everything they had and they want to win more than anything, but we rushed a few shots at the end. And I probably should have called a more simple inbounds play when we threw it away.
"We were trying our best to make a play at the end and I certainly can't criticize that, but we just have to trust the process. It would have been nice to win, but there are times when you win that you think you're something you're not. We just have to keep working," Templeton added.
Signal Mountain's Wilkerson finished with 25 points to lead both teams. Teammate Sowell followed with 16 while Reese and Challener both had eight.
James York scored 16 points to lead five Soddy Daisy players in double figures.
Wright finished with 13 while Landreth added a dozen. Hunter Shell and Carter both tossed in 10 points.
Signal Mountain won the rebound battle, 34-18. Sowell had nine caroms for the Eagles while Christian Amos, Wright, York and Shell all had three each for the Trojans.
SIGNAL MOUNTAIN GIRLS 60, SODDY DAISY 54: The Lady Eagles opened a 15-point halftime lead, but the Lady Trojans came back.
Chloe Mitchell got the Lady Trojans within 53-52 with a layup with 1:39 to play and she added two free throws with just under a minute to play to cut the Signal lead to one again at 55-54.
Marie Whitmire saved the day for Signal Mountain as she canned five of six free throws in the final 37 seconds for the final six-point margin.
Aryn Sanders scored 23 points to lead the Lady Eagles while Whitmire followed with 16. Kelsey McGowan was also in double figures for the winners with a dozen.
Mallory Wade scored 17 points to lead Soddy Daisy, including 12 in the second half.
Sydney Orr was next with nine points while Mitchell finished with eight.
TALON HARRIS EARNED the biggest ovation of the night from the near-capacity crowd. Harris is Soddy Daisy baseball star who was in a horrible truck wreck back in March and spent several weeks in the Erlanger ICU before an extended stay at the Shepherd Spinal Center in Atlanta.
He really lifted everyone's spirit when he got to shoot at halftime of the boys game. He made several layups and a few free throws and came real close on a couple of 3-pointers.
He may never play baseball again, but the fact that he's alive and making progress daily is nothing short of a miracle.
SIGNAL MOUNTAIN 13 20 10 17 -- 60
SODDY DAISY 8 10 19 17 -- 54
Signal Mountain (60) -- Turner, Peterson, Sanders 23, Whitmire 16, Althaus 7, Bledsoe, McGowan 12, Feldhoff 2.
Soddy Daisy (54) -- Harris 6, Orr 9, Mitchell 8, Smith 6, Ward 6, King, Hancock 2, Wade 17.
3-Point Goals: Signal Mountain 3 (Sanders 2, Althaus); Soddy Daisy 2 (Ward 2).
SIGNAL MOUNTAIN 19 15 20 17 -- 71
SODDY DAISY 20 10 13 25 -- 68
Signal Mountain (71) -- Reese 8, Challener 8, Teter 7, Allison, Wilkerson 25, Guiterrez, Sowell 16, Hensley 5, Moon 2.
Soddy Daisy (68) -- Amos 3, Landreth 12, Carter 10, Wright 13, Jeffries 2, York 16, Floyd 2, Shell 10.
3-Point Goals: Signal Mountain 6 (Teter, Wilkerson 5); Soddy Daisy 6 (Landreth 2, Carter, York 2, Shell).
(Email John Hunt at email@example.com)