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The Year It Clicked

Heroes of ’07 see themselves in renewed Rebel title chase
The Maryville bench braces as Ryan Click’s 3-pointer at the buzzer in double overtime makes it way to the basket in the 2007 state championship game. Click’s father, Mo, is at rear of bench in black sweater.

By Stefan Cooper
Blount Press Row

It was interesting to see them there.

Click and Tyler Maples, right, celebrate the '07 title.

Click and Tyler Maples, right, celebrate the ’07 title.

What did they think?

“They definitely feed off each other and a different guy can hurt you every night,” 2007 state tournament most valuable player Jordan Damron said, “and that’s how we were.”

Can the Rebels of 2015 recreate the magic of eight years ago?

Is there another Ryan Click in this group?

First, Maryville’s run to the 2007 state basketball championship was no magic.

You could see it coming the whole time.

Not only is there another Click, there’s a whole bunch of them.

Maryville (26-6) opens against defending state champion Blackman (24-6) as the Class AAA boys state tournament gets underway this afternoon at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro.

Tipoff is 1:15 CST.

Maryville won its way into the tournament with a convincing, 74-58 sectional win over Dobyns-Bennett a week ago. There in the stands at James Campbell Gymnasium was a fab four representation of 2007’s title team – shutdown defender Tyler Maples, shooting guard Kent Basile, Damron and Click.

A fifth, assistant coach Derek Hunt, was on the Rebel bench.

Jordan Damron cuts for the basket in the championship game.

Jordan Damron cuts for the basket.

State isn’t about the teams you play; it’s about the team you’re on, Click said.

“It’s one of those things where, going into it, you have to believe you’re as good as anyone,” he said. “You take it one game at a time once you get there and let the tournament play out.

“One thing that stands out is how much fun that team was. We had so much fun together.”

As a group, they like the 2015 Rebels, Click said. District most valuable player Easton Upchurch conjures memories of Damron’s all-court arsenal – more than just a shooter, a consummate ball handler, unselfish, crafty.

Most remember Aaron Douglas – God rest his soul – as a football star at Maryville. At the 2007 state tournament, he averaged a double-double for the three games and was named to the all-tournament team.

Bryce Miller came into his own as a post player as Maryville first knocked off No. 2-ranked Bearden then No. 1 Oak Ridge, at Oak Ridge, to win the region title two weeks ago.

Sophomore T.D. Blackmon, like Basile in ’07, knows instinctively when it’s time to attack the basket.

Maples and former Rebel Wes Lambert, now an assistant coach at Blackman, put on a clinic of defensive basketball during the championship run. These Rebels have Jake Headrick, Andrew Petree and, perhaps the team’s top on-ball defender, Tristan Upchruch, Easton’s older brother.

“Anytime you get to this point in the year, you want to be playing together and sharing the basketball,” Maryville coach Mark Eldridge said. “You can’t look ahead. These are such good teams. You just try to advance and move on.

“If we make some shots, I think we’ll be a tough out.”

Aaron Douglas throws down a dunk at state. (Editor: Rest in peace, big guy.)

Aaron Douglas throws down a dunk at state. (Editor: Rest in peace, big guy.)

Paradoxically, it’s where the 2015 and 2007 Rebels differ most they’re most alike – namely Click and the player in his role this season, senior Dalton Price.

Click took only two shots in the ’07 tournament, both coming in the championship game. On his second one, with Maryville inbounding beneath its basket with seconds to play in double overtime, the Rebel sixth man took a lob feed left of the key, fired and swish!


Final: Maryville 69, Clarksville 66.

“I was kind of a last resort,” Click said. “I was just hoping we could get some kind of basket to win it.”

The Rebels’ top shooter off the bench, Click was just a sophomore then. He’d earned the role as sixth man during the regular season as the guy who could come in and, on a moments notice, get the fire going.

Price can sure handle that. Big-time.

Price could have sulked when the Upchurchs moved from Mississippi to Maryville over the summer. Easton’s where he would be in the starting lineup.

Instead, Price made these Rebels a team.

When Eldridge motions him to the scorer’s table, he’s on his feet, six-shooter at the ready.

“It really didn’t matter who made the shot (in ’07),” Lambert said. “We were just glad it went in. It’s about the team. It really is.”

Maryville coach Mark Eldridge shows off the championship trophy.

Mark Eldridge holds the trophy.

The 2007 Rebels got scoring from all sides during the tournament. In a 73-68, quarterfinal win over Bradley Central in overtime, Basile poured in 21 points and grabbed six boards, Maples right behind him with 16 and nine assists.

The Bears were 33-4.

Damron came to the fore with 19 points and three assists in a 65-55, semifinal win over Whites Creek. Douglas had his second double-double, finishing with 10 and 12, nine of his rebounds on the defensive end.

Whites Creeks was 31-3.

In the championship game, Damron drove Maryville home with a double of 29 points and 11 rebounds, eight of his caroms defensive. Again, Douglas was right there with 17 and 10.

Clarksville was 33-2.

It’s doable, Damron said.

“It was definitely the time of our lives,” he said. “Pretty hard to believe it’s been eight years ago. You get down there, you’ve got a shot. Take it from me.”

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