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Trailblazer Classic sees big action, wraps up this week

For the basketball enthusiast, the 2010 Trailblazer Classic is a must-see event. The five-day tournament includes 64 games with 36 participating teams.
The Classic doesn’t just include high school teams. It also opened Boone’s doors to a significant number of boys’ and girls’ middle school teams.
Although the middle school section of the event is set up with an actual tournament format, the high school teams are structured for pool play across three nights.
Boys’ varsity high school teams participating in the event include Daniel Boone, David Crockett, Greeneville, Cloudland, Sevier County, Sullivan Central, South Greene, West Greene and Virginia’s William Fleming.
Due to inclement weather, a dynamic 7-footer and two exciting performances, David Crockett stole the spotlight from their county rival, turning the Trailblazer Classic into a Pioneer party.
While the hosting Blazers were forced to take Friday night off as their opponent remained home among poor road conditions, Crockett (8-3) eeked out a thrilling victory over Sevier County 57-55. In the nightcap Saturday, the Pioneers continued to excite spectators as 7-foot front man Zach Garland led the team to a 80-71 come-from-behind win against Greeneville.
In their game against Sevier County, the Pioneers shook off a sluggish first quarter in which they trailed 16-8, to grab a 2-point halftime lead.
Crockett opened the third quarter by exceeding the efficiency on offense and intensity on defense displayed during the previous segment.
Garland dominated the boards on both sides of the ball and guard Anthony Campbell was relentless on defense, forcing the Sevier County backcourt to turn the ball over.
Campbell finished with seven takeaways to pace an 11-point offensive performance.
Crockett appeared to have the game won heading into the final 8 minutes with a 44-31 lead, but the Smoky Bears’ offensive effort in and around the perimeter put the game in limbo.
With the Pioneers doubling their turnovers for the entire game in the final quarter, Sevier County strung together a 9-0 run, trimming the 13 point Crockett lead to just three points.
But the Pioneers woke up, stretching the lead to seven points with under a minute remaining.
Sevier County kept pressure on the Pioneers with a deep trey, cutting the lead to four points. With a chance to tie the game, Sevier County missed from behind the arc and the Pioneers prevailed 57-55.
The Pioneers capped off an exciting Saturday night with a come from behind victory against Greeneville, 80-71.
Greeneville jumped to a 10-point first quarter lead that they held at halftime 42-32.
As the third quarter began, Crockett continued to feed Garland inside, eventually cutting the halftime deficit to seven points entering the final quarter.
With the fourth underway, the Green Devils who connected on an impressive 16 three-pointers for the game couldn’t find an answer for Crockett’s big man.
Garland and his Pioneer teammates routed their hot-shooting opponents in the final stanza, putting up 31 points.
Garland scored a career high 38 points to help the Pioneers stage another dramatic finish. Campbell and Sam Tarlton reached double-figures offensively, scoring 15 and 12 points, respectively.
Crockett will return to the hardwood at Sullivan North in the New Peoples Bank Classic on Dec. 27.
Boone hitting stride as tournament host
As host of the Classic, the Blazers once again faced adversity but continued to work past it, much as they have all season.
With Coach Ryan Arnold still awaiting his team’s transition from football to basketball, a cancelled Friday night game against William Fleming High School and a Tennessee All-Star football game just a couple hours before the tipoff of their contest Saturday night, wasn’t expected to help in progressing the switch between the two sports.
Despite the adversity, Boone rolled in their first game of the tournament, defeating South Greene 65-44.
With Kevin Connell, Hayden Chandley and Ethan Good selected as Northeast Tennessee football all-stars and playing in the afternoon football game Saturday, most coaches would worry about the performance and endurance of having to play a basketball game that tipped off almost immediately following, but not Arnold.
“Being selected to the all-star team was a special thing for a few of our players and they wanted to play in both games,” Arnold said. “I wasn’t concerned. These guys have a tremendous work ethic and are really special athletes.”
In a first quarter exhibiting little offensive firepower, the Blazers maintained a 10-4 lead over South Greene going into the second.
The offense picked up for both teams, with the Blazers maintaining a double-digit lead at the half 26-15. Boone finally hit stride in the third quarter scoring 26 points, completely overwhelming South Greene on defense, allowing only three baskets.
A big fourth quarter by South Greene in which they outscored the Blazers 22-13 helped keep the contest from being a total runaway with the final score of 65-44.
Boone was led offensively by Austin Reppart, who scored 16 points and Ryan Gaitor, who added 9. For the football players in the all-star game, Chandley was second among Boone scorers with 11 points and Connell contributed 6.
Boone will play their final game of the Trailblazer Classic on Monday against West Greene.
After a short break for Christmas the Blazers will resume play on Dec. 28 in the Father Lopez Tournament in Daytona, Fla.