By TREY WILLIAMS
Daniel Boone senior Chad Heglar was named Most Valuable Player after leading the Trailblazers to a Hardee’s Classic title at David Crockett in November, and he was the most valuable player on the court when Boone returned to Pioneer Gym for a Big Seven Conference rematch on Friday.
Heglar, a 6-foot-4 wing receiving interest from Milligan College, Emory & Henry and Berea College, led all scorers with 25 points and tallied a team-high 12 rebounds while propelling the Trailblazers to a 76-66 victory.
He scored nine straight points during one stretch in the fourth quarter for the ‘Blazers (3-4, 8-10), who salvaged a regular season split after losing to Crockett in Gray on Nov. 30.
“He’s a big-time player,” Trailblazers coach Chris Brown said. “You can put it in his hands and I trust him. And he’s gonna make the right plays. He did tonight. He’s been doing it for us for four years. … At crucial moments in the game you want the ball in your best player’s hands, and that’s what we did tonight.”
Revenge was on the minds of the Trailblazers players after the Pioneers’ Mack Hensley piled up 32 points in Crockett’s 69-60 win in the previous meeting, and Heglar couldn’t think of a better venue to get it.
“We haven’t got beat here yet (this season),” Heglar said. “It felt good to come back here and get a win when they beat us at home. So I mean this feels good, because this is a huge rivalry.”
Heglar’s mid-range jump-shot gave Boone a 65-60 lead with some three minutes remaining, and the score wasn’t a one-possession margin afterward.
“Heglar doesn’t miss in clutch time,” Crockett coach John Good said. “He might miss in the flow of the game, but when it’s clutch time he don’t miss.”
The victory completed what’s almost certainly an unprecedented sweep. David Crockett transfer Ayden Begley scored six points for Daniel Boone after playing for Crockett (2-5, 6-15) in its win at Boone in November.
Begley, a sophomore shooting guard, made an early 3-pointer and scored six points while chants of “Crockett reject” came from the Pioneers student section when he touched the ball.
“He’s got that ability to stretch the floor and hit shots,” Brown said. “He’s confident in his shot, and you can tell by the way he plays. We knew coming in here it was gonna be a difficult situation for him. But I thought he handled himself great and I thought he played through it.”
Begley, who also collected a team-high three steals, appears to have been received with open arms by the ‘Blazers despite arriving in mid-stream.
“We know what he’s capable of,” Heglar said. “He can shoot the ball, he plays great defense and he helps the team a lot.”
Cade Norris, Boone’s athletic sophomore forward, made 5 of 7 field goal attempts and scored 12 points.
“I thought he was huge,” Brown said. “And Chad will tell you he (Norris) has been showing glimpses of that in practice. He just gives us another dimension with his length and athleticism.”
Senior point guard Derek Percell had a team-high five assists and no turnovers.
“Derek’s not the biggest guy in the world, but he’s just tough,” Brown said. “He hit some free throws down the stretch for us, made some plays.”
Athletic 6-foot-4 Donta Hackler scored a team-high 24 points for the Pioneers. Senior wing John Kollie scored 13 points and freshman point guard Dawson Wagner and Hensley added 10 apiece for Crockett, which missed 18 of 32 free throw attempts.
“You miss 18 (free throws) you’re not going to beat anybody,” Good said.
Boone appeared to be the team with a chip on its shoulder.
“They were better prepared, better coached,” Good said. “They were the aggressive team. They came in here wanting to prove the last game was a fluke — and they did a good job.”
Boone lost 73-52 at Gate City on Saturday. Judah Hilton and Heglar scored 12 and 11 points, respectively.
Daniel Boone’s girls completed a regular-season sweep of Crockett with a 54-38 victory. Kayla Gibson scored 14 points after tallying 14 points, six rebounds and five assists in a win at Tennessee High on Tuesday.
The score with Crockett was tied at the half, but Gibson scored 11 points while helping the ‘Blazers outscore the Pioneers 20-7 in the third quarter.
She’s begun to blossom while opponents concentrate on teammates Bayleigh Carmichel (17 points against Crockett) and Jaycie Jenkins (10 points).
“Kayla kind of broke it open for us there in the third quarter (against Crockett),” Boone coach Beau Hauldren said. “She’s gotta continue doing that. We need another scorer … when people focus on Jaycie and Bayleigh.”
Jenkins’ steal and lay-in gave the Trailblazers a 39-28 with 1:11 left in the third quarter and Crockett’s deficit was double digits for the game’s remainder.
First-year coach Tony Gordon’s Pioneers opened the game on an inspired 12-2 run. Jenkins and Carmichel appeared unfazed.
“They’re battle-tested,” Hauldren said. “Sometimes I wish they would be a little bit more vocal. But they did it on the court tonight.”
On Saturday in Gate City, the Trailblazers emphatically avenged a home loss to the Blue Devils with a 68-43 victory. Jenkins (23), Carmichel (20) and Madi Runnels all scored in double figures for Boone (17-7).
Gordon continued to applaud his first Crockett team’s determination and passion.
“It’s never for a lack of effort,” Gordon said. “It comes down to physicality. We’re just biting ankles and they’re over top of us. … I’m encouraged by a lot of things, and I’m encouraged by the fact that these girls are very disappointed.”
Hauldren commended the Crockett players’ effort.
“Obviously, Crockett’s gotten better,” Hauldren said. “Man, they’re tough. Coach Gordon gets ‘em going. They go to the boards hard. They’re just a tough physical team.”