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Family Affair

A Marsh leads as Tornadoes claim elementary title

100_5267The Alcoa Elementary Tornadoes celebrate their American Conference championship.

By Stefan Cooper
Blount Press Row

As a family, they may not have written the book on Alcoa basketball, but you can bet there’d be several chapters dedicated to them in any such chronology.

Here comes another one.

Nate Marsh put on a head-turning display of ball handling, slashing drives and slick passes Monday night to help Alcoa outlast Coulter Grove, 36-29, in the American Conference championship game of Blount County Elementary Basketball Tournament.

Both Alcoa High state championship basketball teams, in 1959 and 1967, were led by a Marsh — Freddie in ’59 and David, a high school All-American guard, with the ’67 Tornadoes.

Another relative, Micah, held the high school’s all-time scoring record for a time in the 2000s and later returned as coach. Former Lady Tornado Dawn Marsh won a national championship with Tennessee’s Lady Vols.

Nate Marsh, Freddie’s grandson, shared team-best scoring honors with Isaiah Cox-Penson with 10 points each on Monday at Heritage Middle.

Jaden Jones and Ronald Jackson had eight each for the Tornadoes, who would need the balanced attack to hold off Coulter Grove sharpshooter Caden Williamson.

The Hawks guard ripped the netting for a game-high 18 points, including a fourth-quarter 3 that brought on a late Coulter Grove rush. Ahmaud Sankey had six, Taki George three, on a trey, and Carter Cox two.

Coulter Grove sprinted to a 9-2 lead after a period of play. Alcoa turned the tables to close within a bucket, 13-11, at the half.

“We got really tough in the locker room and told them what we needed to do,” Tornado coach Micah Jennings said. “Our pressure defense gives us an edge because we’re a little bit quicker than most teams.”

“They just wanted this and never gave up. Coulter Grove is a good team and Williamson … Gosh! He’s good.”

A tough championship game loss did nothing to dampen a great season, Hawks coach Keith Burroughs said.

“You win some; you lose some,” he said. “What can you say?

“They played a good game. Alcoa’s a good team. They started pressing us, and we couldn’t handle it.”

Both teams found their scoring touch in a big way in the second half, Williamson running red-hot for a time. With the Tornadoes leading, 26-21, to start the fourth, Marsh’s ball handling and distribution against the Hawks pressure proved a difference-maker.

“We started to relax and pass the ball really well and got our shots off nice and smooth,” Marsh said.

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