Johnson City Press: Hunley's buzzer-beater lifts Volunteer over North
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Hunley's buzzer-beater lifts Volunteer over North

Jeff Birchfield • Dec 27, 2018 at 10:49 PM

KINGSPORT — Brody Hunley hit a 12-foot shot at the buzzer and Chance Johnson scored 27 points to lift Volunteer to a 72-70 overtime victory over Sullivan North in Thursday's opening round of the Kelly Services Christmas basketball tournament at J. Richard Carroll Gymnasium.

It was the nightcap of day one that included Sullivan South beating Chuckey-Doak 60-41, Cherokee defeating Happy Valley 68-47 and West Greene rallying for a 58-55 win over Cloudland.

Hunley's game-winner came after North's Yancy Dolen had tied the contest just seconds earlier. It was also after the Raiders' Isaiah Pruitt hit a big 3-pointer near the end of regulation to send the game into overtime.

"I got super excited and started running to my teammates," Hunley said about hitting the game-winner. "We have a never give-up attitude and try to get that win every time."

The Falcons (4-8) rallied from a 34-24 halftime deficit, which saw the Golden Raiders (2-9) control most of the action. Volunteer trailed by just one (43-42) heading into the fourth quarter, setting up a back-and-forth battle throughout the final eight minutes of regulation and into overtime.

Johnson had taken over for Volunteer, scoring the team's last five points of regulation and its first four of overtime. It included an old-fashioned 3-point play the North side thought was clearly a charge instead of a blocking foul.

Regardless, it marked the third time this season the Falcons have won on the last possession.

"They play hard and they just keep playing," Volunteer coach Mike Poe said of his players. "They don't care what the score is, they keep playing. It's easy to get frustrated, but you had two teams out there playing as hard as they could play, and in games like that, you're going to have emotions. Our kids just happened to make one more play at the last play of the game."

The emotions were running wild on both sides at the end. It was a night, however, that saw North's Trey Williams score 22 points and Pruitt end with 18. Tyler Depriest and Dolen each scored seven.

"Isaiah made a really big shot in a clutch moment to put us into overtime and Trey Williams played the best he ever had tonight," North coach Travis Cain said. "The kids played hard with great effort. We had a lull in the third quarter, when we had a 10-point lead, that really came back and hurt us. The whole team, we're seeing improvements. At times, our inexperience came back and hurt us — but I'm really proud of the boys. They deserved to win tonight."

In addition to Johnson's big output, Ethan Dean scored eight and Hunter Skelton had seven for the Falcons.

Sullivan South 60, Chuckey-Doak 41

The Rebels wasted no time gaining an advantage over the Black Knights and coach Michael McMeans liked the effort throughout the contest.

South jumped out to a 12-2 lead and was ahead 20-7 at the end of the first quarter. The Rebels maintained a double-digit lead, going up 34-16 at halftime and 48-30 heading into the final period.

"It was our effort tonight defensively," McMeans said. "We met them at the half-court. I challenged Gannon Chase and Gavin Parker today to really be good. We knew No. 3 (Jordan Morelock) and No. 22 (Alex Maupin) were good players on what we saw on tape. We challenged them to step up and defend those guys. They got them out of what they normally do."

Chase Bowery led the way on the offensive end with 16 points, followed by Ben Diamond with 12 points, Cole Layne with 10 and Chase with eight.

"Chase is a great kid and he's worked hard," McMeans said. "He gets a lot of his points off second chances with the offensive rebounds and put-backs. He ran the floor well tonight and outworked everybody. That's a testament to the type of kid he is."

Morelock led the Black Knights with 13 points. Ethan Palazzo finished with 10 points.

Cherokee 68, Happy Valley 47

The Chiefs scored the first nine points of the game and got out to a 13-2 lead in the tournament opener.

Cherokee's 6-foot-11 center Wyatt Watson dominated the inside early. He scored 10 points on the offensive end and contested many shots on the defensive side.

"That's twice this season that Wyatt has shown that capability. Both those games we came out with wins," Cherokee coach Ty Webb said. "We need him to do that on a consistent basis."

Freshman point guard Carter Metz paced Cherokee's balanced scoring attack with 14 points. Ryan Bledsoe, Jason Satler and Watson all finished with 10, while Bailey Broyles and Brayden Gilliam each scored eight.

"Carter Metz had a big game and we had scoring up and down the bench tonight. That was big for us," Webb said. "The balance is what we want. I thought we did a good job tonight of executing the offense and taking what the defense gave us."

Bryce Carter scored 12 to lead the Warriors, who got eight each from Dakota Cochran, Luke Roberts and Blake Young.

West Greene 58, Cloudland 55

Lucas Bennett scored a game-high 21 points, including a crucial layup in the final seconds, as the Buffaloes rallied from eight points down to defeat the Highlanders.

Grayson Potter contributed 12 points and Allen Vaughn added 10 for West Greene, which overcame a 42-34 deficit near the end of the third quarter.

Robert Leeper had 14 points to lead Cloudland, which got 10 points from Hunter Shell and eight from Bentley Gilbert.

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