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Tornadoes knock off CAK in week’s second district thriller

Alcoa’s Malik Love (23) and Kenny Dean pressure Christian Academy’s Oteriah Lee into a 10-second county on Friday. Photos by Jolanda Jansma

By Stefan Cooper
Blount Press Row

Malik Love floats to the basket on Friday.

Knoxville – After an early bucket, Christian Academy of Knoxville senior Brett Kendrick turned to the Alcoa student section and gestured with his hands as if asking them to bring it.

Malik Love missed everything on a first half shot. The Christian Academy student section took him to task the next three quarters, taunting the Tornado point guard with “Air ball! Air ball!” every time Love touched the ball.

A night of juicy, District 4AA basketball ensued, Alcoa prevailing, 55-54, when Warrior point guard Oteriah Lee missed on the second of two free throws with 1.8 seconds remaining.

The win moves the Tornadoes (12-10, 6-2) into sole possession of second place in the league standings. Frontrunner Stone Memorial (15-8, 7-1) has a pair of district meetings with Kingston to close out the regular season, Alcoa a league finisher at home against Scott County on Tuesday.

Christian Academy (11-9, 5-3) remains a close third in the league race. Stone Memorial’s run as the district’s only unbeaten ended with a 64-60 loss at Alcoa on Tuesday.

“I think that (Stone Memorial win) gave the kids some confidence,” Alcoa coach Tony Jones said. “I think we got over the hump.

“I thought the pace really took a toll on (Christian Academy). I told (the Tornadoes) we’re going to make (the Warriors) run all game long.”

Team District Overall
Stone Memorial 6-1 15-8
Alcoa 6-2 12-10
CAK 5-3 11-9
Kingston 3-5 13-14
Loudon 3-5 11-11
Scott County 0-7 5-18

Tornado senior Kenny Dean led all scorers on the night with 20 points. Guard Niko White and sophomore forward Brenden Teeter balanced Alcoa with 11 points each. Junior Peyton, tossed in five, including a finishing basket on a show-stopping fast break with six minutes remaining.

Lee had the big night for the Warriors, pacing Christian Academy with 18. Nick Campbell had 13 for the hosts, Kendrick 11. Chase Cerny and Drew Homan had five each.

“It feels like we got something off our chest,” White said.

In a game charged by the football rivalry between the two schools, Love and Kendrick, unwittingly, played key roles in the closing minutes.

The Warriors have won the last two state football championships, eliminating the Tornadoes en route each time. Alcoa won the previous seven titles, bouncing Christian Academy from the playoffs each time.

Peyton Wall pump fakes in front of Christian Academy's Brett Kendrick (34) and Dylan Keck.

Christian Academy led after each of the first three quarters Friday, ahead, 16-13, after one, 32-28 at the half and 46-42 to start the fourth. At the 6:04 mark of the fourth, Wall, White and Love put together something absolutely refreshing on a 3-on-2 fast break.

Pulling up inside the key at the free-throw line, White delivered a crisply angled bounce pass to Love, knifing in from the right wing.

“I was looking at Niko, and he peeked at me,” Love said, “and I knew he was going to pass me the ball.

Cut off at the baseline, Love threaded a behind-the-back bounce pass to a trailing Wall, bolting to the basket down the lane.

The showtime break pulled Alcoa within 47-46, with Love teaming with Dean to force a 10-second count on the Warrior backcourt a minute later. A Dean free throw tied the score at 49-all seconds later. White’s 3-pointer gave the Tornadoes their first lead, 52-51, at the three minute mark.

Harper Stinnett, left, and Rylee Stephens cheer on the Tornadoes on Friday.

Poor free-throw shooting by the Tornadoes down the strech – 1-for-5, including twice the front end of one-and-ones – helped ensure the Warriors remained close enough for a final charge. Lee converted on the front end with two seconds left, Jones asking for time before the second.

Out of the huddle, the 6-foot-5, University of Tennessee commitment Kendrick, last season’s Class 3A Mr. Football lineman, went to Lee at the foul line and delivered a forceful low five, apparently looking to bolster his teammate’s confidence. Lee winced noticeably, then saw his toss strike the left side of the iron and bounce off.

Wall collected the rebound to seal victory.







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