The Greeneville Greene Devils were simply too much for the Rebels as they took home their second straight Region 1-AA title in an 87-70 win.
A 7-1 run to start the final period of play after South had cut what was a 12-point Greeneville lead to five was the final dagger.
The Greene Devils broke the Rebels’ pressure defense early and often in the second half and often exploited a huge mismatch that Reid Satterfield had on the much smaller Ben Diamond.
Satterfield was named the tournament MVP after finishing with 30 points including 13 in the fourth quarter.
Diamond almost solely kept his Rebels in the game with a Herculean effort of scoring 35 points and going 24-for-28 from the free throw line.
“We couldn’t keep anybody in front of us, and every 50-50 ball they got and we couldn’t rebound. It become tough and when we switched to zone, we weren’t active enough,” South coach Michael McMeans said. “We needed to create turnovers and it sped them up a little bit, but the problem was that when we speed them up, we didn’t get back. When they broke our front line, we weren’t hustling back as much as we needed to.”
“In the beginning of the second half, we did a really good job of breaking the press,” Greeneville coach Brad Woolsey said. “What a game of ebbs and flows on both sides. There was a lot of heart on both sides, too. … (The run to start the fourth quarter) really put us out there, but with the way (South) shoots the ball, they’re never out of it. That spurt was huge and it never got too terribly close again.”
SLOW START, STRONG RECOVERY
The Rebels did not have an ideal start to the game, falling behind 14-7, but they ended the quarter on a 14-0 run and took a 21-14 lead into the second.
The Greene Devils, however, fought back and took a 37-35 lead with 1:42 left in the half and never looked back.
DIAMOND AND LAYNE SHOW
The Rebels had a good first quarter distributing the basketball, but after the opening period, the Greene Devils made some adjustments.
Cole Layne ended the night with 19 points but scored only five after halftime.
The only others to score for South after the first period were Gannon Chase — who finished with 11 points and fouled out — and Creed Musick. He had only one bucket.
“We came to play and we competed hard, but we have to have more than three guys score the ball,” McMeans said.
OTHERS FOR THE DEVILS
Jakobi Gillespie netted 14 points for the Greene Devils and Austin Loven finished with 17. Jaydon Manuel also contributed 11.
Greeneville ended up doubling up South in the final period, 24-12.
A LOOK AHEAD
Greeneville will host Fulton (21-7) on Monday night at 7 p.m. while Sullivan South will travel to Blount County to take on Alcoa (21-10) at the same time.
“It’s going to be a battle, but at the end of the day, this was our goal,” McMeans said. “We wanted to get to the sectional and give ourselves a chance at going to the state tournament. All you can ask for is a shot at it.”
South has never made it to the state tournament and is appearing in the sectional round for only the fourth time ever.
Greeneville is 5-5 all-time in the sectional round and is 5-1 at home. However, the last two times the Greene Devils have played the Falcons this far into the postseason, Greeneville’s season has ended.
Fulton also dealt Greeneville its only home sectional loss in 2016.
“Fulton is very well coached team and Jody Wright always does a great job,” Woolsey said. “They’re a great defensive team and they’re winners. We’re glad to be at home, but we know this will be a tough game. It’s going to have to be a community crowd and everyone is going to have to be in on this one.”