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First round losses sour Hardees Classic for Crockett, Boone

As families came together last week to celebrate holiday traditions, another tradition was taking place at David Crockett High School — the Hardees Classic. The basketball tournament, in its 22nd year, brings eight teams to Crockett, allowing each a chance to jumpstart their respective seasons. This year, opening round losses for Boone and Crockett ended any chance the rivals had at repeating last year’s championship matchup.
Boone, Crockett fall in round I
Both Boone and Crockett would have liked to send their fans into Thanksgiving break with wins, but University High and Sullivan East had other ideas as the Pioneers lost to the Junior Bucs, 55-50, and the Blazers fell to the Patriots, 49-35.
Despite controlling a three-point halftime lead, Crockett struggled to begin the second half. By the end of the third quarter, Crockett trailed by 10 points.
While Crockett was more efficient in the fourth, they couldn’t overcome the deficit. Crockett was led in scoring by Joe Ganger’s 21 points. Anthony Campbell and Austin Street reached double figures in the game.
In the final game of the night, the Blazers found themselves behind early.
With the Patriots controlling the boards and holding Boone in check on the interior, East raced to a 12 point lead by the end of the first quarter.
The Blazers improved in the second, but the Patriots maintained a 14-point advantage at intermission. In the third, East stretched the lead to more than 20 points, locking down Boone’s offense.
A 12-3 scoring advantage for Boone in the final quarter kept the game respectable, but the Patriots lead was too much to overcome.
Chris Jones led Boone with 13 points. Ryan Gaitor, the Blazers only returning starter, finished with 12.
Crockett Beats Boone in thriller
Crockett and Boone met in the 2010 Hardees Classic championship a year ago, needing overtime to decide a winner. Ganger, one of the few left from a Crockett team that reached the regional tournament last year, iced the game for the Pioneers in that contest, hitting several crucial free throws to win.
While the 2011 tournament championship wouldn’t feature the Blazers or the Pioneers, the two did renew their rivalry on Nov. 25.
Despite trailing much of the game, Crockett found a way to come from behind and steal the win at the end as Ganger once again sank two final free throws to give the Pioneers a 51-50 victory.
The Pioneers opened the contest with the lead, outplaying the Blazers to stretch their first quarter lead to 12-9 before a Boone three-pointer knotted the score.
From there, the Blazers held the advantage until just 1.2 seconds remained.
With less than 30 seconds left and still trailing, Crockett was forced to foul Boone players to prolong what seemed the inevitable. But Boone couldn’t convert at the free throw line, missing six straight.
Campbell eventually gained possession on the sixth miss with under 10 seconds left in the contest and trailing by one. He pushed past Blazer defenders and found an open Ganger around the basket. Not allowing Ganger an easy shot, Boone fouled the Crockett guard with just 1.2 seconds left.
After Ganger hit his first shot to tie the game, the Blazers took a timeout, but it was to no avail. Ganger’s second shot was as true as his first to seal the win for the Pioneers.
Gaitor finished with a game high 17 points.
Crockett was led by Tyler Page, who scored 15 points. Ganger and Campbell each added 11.
Disappointing
losses On final day
In the Nov. 26 contests, Crockett fell to Cherokee 70-49, while Boone lost another nail biter on a final shot 62-60 in overtime.
The Pioneers couldn’t overcome an eight point first quarter deficit to the Chiefs in the fifth place game. Despite a better second quarter, Crockett still went into the half down by nine.
In the game’s second half, Cherokee continued to pound the Pioneers inside, which allowed for open looks behind the arc. The single digit halftime deficit eventually grew to 21.
Campbell and Isaac Mango were the only Pioneers to reach double figures.
Boone’s 2-point loss to Sullivan South marked their third defeat in the tournament.
Boone held a four-point halftime advantage and still possessed the lead late into the fourth quarter. Free throws were once again the difference as the Blazers missed three critical shots out of five attempts at the line in the final minutes of regulation and overtime.
With the game tied at 60 in OT, Boone was called for traveling with just over 4 seconds to play. South was able to take a final shot which banked in to give the Rebels the win.
Gaitor led Boone with 18 points. Jacob Littleton added 13.
Sullivan East defeated Unicoi County 66-61 in the tournament’s championship .