Crockett finishes fourth in Hardees Classic
By Chris Shields
The tournament allowed each team a chance to engage in tournament play in the early part of the 2012-13 prep basketball season.
The Pioneers were joined by seven others: Sullivan South, Unaka, Sullivan East, Greeneville, Happy Valley, Unicoi County and University High.
The teams opened play at the tournament on Nov. 20 for first-round contests before breaking until the Classic’s conclusion on Nov. 24 and Nov. 25.
Despite winning in the opening round, Crockett dropped their final two games, finishing fourth at the event.
off Happy Valley
in final seconds
Trailing by nine points midway through the fourth quarter against Happy Valley High School, the Pioneers found themselves on the verge of a loss in their tournament opener.
But Josh Saults and Isaac Mango were determined not to let that happen, taking over the game in the last few minutes to give Crockett a 60-59 victory.
Mango knocked down two three-pointers and Saults added a third of his own to cut the Happy Valley lead to one point, 57-56.
The Warriors stretched the lead back to three on their next possession, with just 14 seconds left on the clock.
On the Pioneers possession, Saults was left open behind the arc and took advantage, knocking down the big shot to tie the game at 59 with just 2 seconds left to play.
Following a Happy Valley timeout, the visitors were whistled for a turnover on the inbound play after stepping past the baseline.
Crockett received possession under their goal. Mango drew a foul on the inbound pass, sending him to the line to win the game.
After missing his first free throw attempt, the Pioneer post knocked down the second, giving Crockett its 60-59 win.
Saults and Mango paced the Pioneer effort, with the duo combining for 39 points.
Mango led the team with 20, and Saults finished with 19.
The win catapulted the Pioneers to the semifinals on Nov. 23 against University High.
University High denies Crockett championship game
Just as Crockett had snatched a win away from Happy Valley in the final minutes of the first round at the Hardees Classic, the Junior Bucs of University High did the same with a 71-63 win over David Crockett.
After building a seven-point lead in the first quarter, the Pioneers went into the half with a 35-31 advantage.
Crockett maintained a four-point lead through the third quarter, entering the final stanza on the cusp of a championship berth.
But University High snatched the game away in the final minutes.
University High relied on Marcus Taylor, who led all scorers with 22 points.
Taylor and the Junior Bucs supporting cast captured the lead in the final quarter and closed out the contest on a 7-0 run to slam the door on Crockett’s championship aspirations.
Saults led the Pioneers in the loss with 16 points.
Dustin Day was the only other Pioneer to reach double-figures in scoring, with 10.
Unaka too much
for Crockett in third place game
Crockett’s loss against University High pushed the Pioneers to the third place game on Nov. 24 against Unaka.
Their disappointing final quarter from the day before carried over in the third place contest, as Unaka pounded the Pioneers 76-49.
After a close first quarter, Crockett struggled in the second and Unaka took advantage, outscoring the Pioneers 21-4.
Crockett went to the half trailing 37-18.
The third quarter continued to go in the visitors’ favor as Unaka stretched their lead to over 20 points.
The Pioneers played a close fourth, but the contest had already been decided.
Crockett managed to score just 49 points and had no answer for the hot shooting and high pressure defense of Unaka.
The Pioneers were led in scoring once again by Saults, who finished with 11. He was also selected to the All-Tournament team for his effort over the course of Crockett’s three games. Saults was the only Pioneer selected.
Greeneville High School was crowned the Hardees Classic champion after defeating University High 73-64 in the tournament’s championship game held Nov. 25.