Blount Press Row

‘An Unbelievable Performance’

Dean delivers heroic last stand as a Tornado

Senior Kenny Dean floats the basket in his final game for Alcoa on Saturday. Photos by Jenifer Clark

By Josh Glasgow
Staff Writer
Blount Press Row

Niko White glides in for two.

Even with a big night from their senior star, even with former Alcoa great and current Green Bay Packer Randall Cobb in attendance, Alcoa saw its season come to an end Saturday night.

Kenny Dean led the Tornadoes with 31 points and had a shot to tie the game at the buzzer, but his jumper from just beyond the foul line found the iron and bounced off as the buzzer sounded, host Alcoa falling in the Region 2AA quarterfinal, 61-59.

“Just an unbelievable performance by Kenny Dean,” Tornado coach Tony Jones said. “He scored from any which way, had guys hanging on him all night long and he still found a way to put it in the basket.”

Dean had 24 points in the first half, but Gibbs head coach Tim Meade made a halftime adjustment by switching to a 1-3-1 zone. Dean managed 7 second-half points.

The first half was a faced paced, press-and-trap driven basketball contest with both teams exchanging big point runs. With five and a half minutes left in the second period, Gibbs, down 24-16, went on an 11-0 run to take a 27-24 lead with just over three minutes remaining before half.

From that point on, it would be all Alcoa (16-13) to end the half as the Tornadoes went would on a 10-0 run of their own to take a 34-27 lead to the locker room.

Alcoa held to a slim lead for most of the third period with the help of a couple of baskets by Brenden Teeter and Nick Miller. A charge call on Dean with just under four minutes to play in the period seemed to shift the momentum in Gibbs’ favor.

Peyton Wall eludes a pair of Eagles.

Led by senior point guard Aaron Corum, 18 points, and senior Jay Cade, 22, Gibbs (22-8) took control in the third period and held a slim lead at 46-43 going into the final eight minutes.

The Eagles extended their lead to 49-43 when Dean began to find the basket again. Along with a bucket from Peyton Wall with five minutes remaining, Alcoa regained the lead by one, 50-49.

The lead changed hands seven times from there the next four minutes, Gibbs holding a 58-57 lead as the clock went under a minute. Cade was fouled with 16.7 seconds to play and hit both shots as the ball touched nothing but the nylon on its way down.

Dean hit a runner in the lane with six seconds to play to bring the Tornadoes within one. Corum hit one of the two free throws with five seconds left. Jones wanted the ball in his Dean’s hands on the inbounds.
“I told him, ‘Make a play. If you think you’re comfortable pulling up from three, then pull up from three,’” Jones said. “He thought he could get closer to the basket, which he did, and got off a pretty good look that was right there, but it didn’t go in.”

It just wasn’t to be Jones said he told the Tornadoes in the locker room.

Promising prospect Nick Miller returns for Alcoa next season.

“I told them I appreciated the effort, and the ball didn’t bounce our way tonight, and sometimes that happens,” he said, “and I’m proud of them as a team.”

Jones said he’s already looking to next year.

“The players that played this year will be a lot better next year because the game will slow down for them next year and they’ll be stronger and more mature,” he said. “It’s just gonna seem funny going out there without number 10 (Dean).”

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