TRENTON, Ga. – Signal Mountain coach Steve Redman wasn't thinking about the 27 points his team had just scored as he angrily waved them towards the halftime locker room. Despite holding a nine-point lead in Saturday's lead game of the Santa Slam here at Dade County High School, he was thinking about the points his Eagles had left on the floor.
“We left a lot out there,” Redman said later, after Signal Mountain had righted the ship and cruised to a 69-41 win over Marion County.
“Too many missed free throws, too many missed layups. We make those and we can build a little lead.”
While the Eagles were a sorry 12 of 25 from the foul line, Redman relaxed once his team began finishing at the rim while making seven straight foul shots to open the second half. Upset-minded Marion County, which brought a 1-9 record into the game, had a five-point possession out of the halftime rate and suddenly trailed by only 27-23.
But the Eagles' B.J. Wilkerson answered with a pair of foul shots and Lannom Sowell worked his way to back-to-back buckets in the paint to put the Eagles back up by double digits to stay. Wilkerson finished with 14 points, while Sowell's big night included 16 points and 11 rebounds for the 10-3 victors. Signal Mountain posted 42 points in second half after managing just 27 the first two period.
Marion County was paced by Preston Pickett's 13 points.
Two wins = happy holidays for Mustangs
While no trophies were handed out at the Santa Slam, Coach Bob Williams' Walker Valley Mustangs could stake a claim for being the big winner of the two-day event. After shocking host Dade County Friday, the Mustangs worked their way past Ridgeland's more deliberate, half-court style of play to earn a 69-51 win and a week-long break.
A remarkable third quarter was the big difference, as Walker Valley limped into intermission leading only 26-20 with as many misses as mades on the shot chart. So Williams preached s“finishing” to his team and they took it to an extreme: the Mustangs' first eight field goals were layups as they hit 8-of-9 shots. Add a handful of free throws and the six-point lead had become 23 (47-24).
“We did stress finishing,” Williams confirmed. “We missed so many easy ones out there. We're much more comfortable play Dade's style than this.”
Lukas Korn led a dozen Walker Valley scorers with 14 points, followed by Austin Harwood with 13 points, five assists and six rebounds. A big spark was provided by Caio Hysinger, who had seven assists to match his point total (and four steals).
Ridgeland, which has not yet seen any football players suit up, got 21 points from Gannon Harris but slipped to 4-5 for the season. Walker Valley is 9-6.
Wolverines bounce back in big way
Still smarting from Friday's home loss, the Wolverines found a young East Ridge squad to their liking and ran the Pioneers into submission, 69-49. Dade's lead was 28 (44-16) at the half.
Knocking down five 3-pointers, Cole Birchfield scored 20 of his 23 points in the first half as Coach Glen Hicks' team earned its 10th win of the year against two losses. Clynt Bell hit three treys en route to adding 17 points to winning ledger. Dade's 13 3-pointers were still two below its team average for the season.
For East Ridge (5-8), Dominique Millener found the range to hit four 3-pointers en route to 19 total.
Signal Mountain 14 13 22 20 – 69
Marion County 10 8 13 10 – 41
SIGNAL MTN. (69) – Reese 5, Challener 2, Jack Teeter 11, B.J. Wilkerson 14, Lannom Sowell 16, Allison 2, Guiterrez 2, Palmer Hensley 2, McCaffrey 7, Elwell 2, Moon 4.
MARION CO. (41) – Brooks, Merrell, Preston Pickett 13, Shoemaker 6, Bible 7, Vanatta 6, J. Harveston 5, Qualls, Scissom 2, M. Harveston 2, Wildermuth, Brown.
3-point goals: SM 2 (Teeter, Wilkerson); MC 2 (Shoemaker, Bible). Records: SM 10-3, MC 1-9.
Ridgeland 11 9 15 15 – 51
Walker Valley 15 11 24 19 – 69
RIDGELAND (51) – Jalen Smith 11, Collins, Gannon Harris 21, Roach 2, Fortress 3, Jackson 5, Nicholas 6, Rutledge 5, Bolton, Hisey 3, Crawford.
WALKER VALLEY (69) – Anthony, Tucker Godfrey 11, Austin Harwood 13, Hysinger 7, Melton, Cartwright 2, Lukas Korn 14, Morrow 2, Russell 4, Crews 2, Swafford 4, Brownfield 7, Hunt 2, Williams 1.
3-pt. Goals: Ridgeland 2 (Jackson, Hisey); WV 1 (Russell). Records: Ridgeland 4-5, Walker Valley 9-6.
East Ridge 11 5 14 19 – 49
Dade County 23 21 14 11 – 69
EAST RIDGE (49) – King 8, Tillery 4, Dominique Millener 19, Talley 9, Jones 2, Johnson 3, Thomas, Hendrix 4.
DADE COUNTY (69) – Mai, Starling 2, Cole Birchfield 23, Castleberry, Howard 3, Chitwood 5, Sharp 3, Smith 4, Clynt Bell 17, Gaddis 3, Walden, Cole 6, Page 2, Lawrence 1.
3-point goals: ER 7 (Millener 4, King 2, Johnson); DC 13 (Birchfield 5, Bell 3, Cole 2, Chitwood, Sharp, Gaddis). Records: East Ridge 5-8; Dade County 10-2.