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David Crockett comes up big against Cherokee, Jellico

Crockett’s Mack Hensley (pictured at the Hardee’s Classic) scored 15 points against Cherokee on Friday. (Photo by Ron Weaver)

By TREY WILLIAMS

H&T Correspondent

First-year David Crockett boys basketball coach Cody Connell seems to have more balance than a gymnast these days.

The Pioneers (1-0, 7-2) have three players averaging double-figure scoring and two others are knocking on the door. Senior shooting guard Mack Hensley is averaging 17 points per game, sophomore point guard Dawson Wagner is averaging 14 and senior forward Donta Hackler is averaging 12.

Crockett had five players score in double figures in a rout of Jellico on Monday after three players reached double digits – Hensley (15), Hackler (12) and junior wing Mason Britton (10) – in a Big Seven Conference-opening 60-52 win at Cherokee on Friday. Prince Kollie added nine points in that one.

Hensley also had six assists and Hackler tallied six rebounds against the Chiefs, who committed 18 turnovers.

“We’ve had three or four guys, at least, in double digits every ballgame,” Connell said. “That’s been a consistent thing. I think we’re getting better. We’re learning, starting to play better as a team and not just relying on one player to do it all. It’s a different guy every night, which I love.”

The Cherokee game wasn’t as contested as the final score might suggest. Crockett led by 17 late in the game when Connell pulled the starters.

“We were up 19 at the half,” Connell said. “We did (play well). Cherokee’s a good team. I think they’ll upset some people this year. I was really impressed with how athletic and how aggressive they are.”

Hackler scored 20 points against Jellico. Wagner had 19 points and five assists. Hensley (16), Britton (11) and Avery Letcher (10) also reached double figures.

“When you’ve got five guys scoring in double digits, that’s pretty impressive,” Connell said. “And we had 19 assists.”

Connell was impressed with touted Jellico freshman guard Hayden Llewellyn. He scored 32 points and made eight 3-pointers.

“And we were face-guarding him,” Connell said. “He can shoot it from anywhere … and he’s shifty, long and lanky, and he can handle the ball.”

The week began with Crockett having to play Sullivan South for the second straight game. After beating the Rebels in the Hardee’s Classic championship game, the Pioneers fell, 66-56, at South.

However, Connell says, there was plenty of encouraging signs in defeat.

“We were 3 of 27 behind the 3-point line,” Connell said. “That doesn’t help. They were great looks (other than a couple of late ones). And we were 17 of 40 inside the 3-point line. That’s not good either.

“But we had 15 offensive rebounds and we turned ‘em over 19 times. My guys played hard. It comes down to making shots.”

South opened the game on a 15-1 run. Crockett battled back to within 32-28 by halftime. The Rebels long, tireless Gannon Chase led all scorers with 19 points on a night standout while guard Ben Fox was hampered by foul trouble.

“They had a lot of guys step up,” Connell said. “I’ll give credit to ‘em. They’re a great basketball team, and they played hard and they wanted it.”

Wagner scored a team-high 15 points for Crockett. Hackler (14), Kollie (13) and Hensley (11) helped fuel a balanced attack.

The David Crockett girls’ team also began a 2-1 week with a loss at South. The Rebels got 22 points from McKenzie Littleton. Emily Trivette tallied a team-high 16 points for Crockett (1-0, 7-2). Halle Scott and Mackenzie Baldwin added 12 and 11, respectively.

Crockett did force more turnovers than it committed in the loss.

Second-year coach Tony Gordon’s Pioneers bounced back with a 44-30 win at Cherokee in the league opener.

Nora Walters (12), Carlie Wilson (11) and Zoe Sanders (nine) led the scoring attack in Monday’s 73-18 win against Jellico. Morgan Lewis tallied 10 rebounds.

Junior Emma Gouge is back from an ankle injury sustained during the Hardee’s Classic.