Blount Press Row

Father Knows Best

Shaffer’s big night carries Fairview to title

By Stefan Cooper
Editor
Blount Press Row

Fairview started fast, but it wasn’t long before Porter got it going. A rip tootin’ shootout ensued, with the Angels’ Corey Shaffer and the Panthers’ Luke Burnett literally matching each other shot for shot over the final three quarters.

When they finally hosed down the rims at Heritage Middle School, Fairview’s early burst had held up, the Angels claiming the National Conference championship at the Blount County Elementary Tournament on Friday night with a 28-25 win.

Shaffer and Burnett paced their teams with 17 points each, both finding the other team’s basket on a variety of shots. Shaffer’s early 3 gave Fairview a 5-0 head start, the Angels going on to close quarter with a 10-3 advantage. Burnett countered with a pair of deep bombs, and, by halftime, the Panthers were back in the hunt, down 16-12 at the break.

Fueling the eruptions for both Burnett and Shaffer was the fact Fairview coach Donna Houser and Porter coach Raymond Burnett were aware both teams were capable of finding scoring from other sources. Balanced, deep teams had been big in getting both teams to Friday’s championship game.

Five players cracked the score sheet for the Angels, with Bryson Goforth and May Bowers adding four and three points, respectively. Ryan Ballard and Matthew Walker added two each in the championship tilt. Bryce Belcher and Clay Norton dropped in four each for the Panthers.

Both coaches, in turn, chose to remain disciplined defensively and let Shaffer and Burnett do their thing.

“We tried pressuring them in the second half some and turned them over,” Raymond Burnett, Luke’s father, said, “but it just didn’t work. They (the Angels) came up with big plays at opportune times. They made some big shots.”

Shaffer got started right away when play resumed after halftime. “We shot the ball well last night (in the semifinals),” Houser said, “and I wondered if it would continue into tonight. I like to work inside out, but they (the Panthers) were concentrating on the inside.”

This time Porter didn’t allow a gap to open, Burnett countering quickly with a pair of free throws. After three, it was still a four-point game, Fairview holding to a 20-16 lead. To start the fourth, the Angels got the margin that would all but secure the title. Walker stuck back a rebound to start the fourth for his only points, opening the lead to 22-16. One possession later, Shaffer knifed down the right side of the lane for two more with three minutes remaining.

“We work a lot on shooting,” Houser said.

The Panthers fired back. Norton got to the bucket for a layup. Burnett, who’d gone to the bench for a breather during the brief Fairview run, quickly hit a deep jumper from the right side. Belcher’s baseline drive got Porter back within 26-22 with 42 seconds to play.

Shaffer unholstered his six-shooter one last time for a pair of free throws with 30 seconds remaining, opening just enough breathing room, a final bucket from Belcher and a free toss from Burnett not enough to get Porter any closer the rest of the way.

There’s not much the Panthers would change about the game, “except win,” Luke Burnett said.

A textbook shooter with a clinical release, uncanny for a player so young, Shaffer was asked afterward where he’d learned his stroke? “This guy,” he said, pointing to his father, Bill, nearby. Bill Shaffer should open a camp. His son’s got some skills.

Third-place game:
Middlesettlements 36, Townsend 32

They went back and forth for four quarters. When all was said and done, the Settlers just had too much firepower.

Jared Young set the pace for all scorers with 16 points for Middlesettlements. Teammate Chance Pride was right there with him, adding 11, including a trey. The Settlers got five from Will Pugh, a deuce from Eli Macon and a free throw from Hudson Clason.

Parker Rothery led the charge for the Tigers with a team-best eight points. Collin Coatney finished with six. Braden Carnes had three for Townsend, which led, 10-9, at halftime. Jarred Webb and Kurt Headrick finished with two each.

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