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No Ordinary Joe

Maryville eighth-grader Anderson puts on show in county championship game
Driver's Portrait Photography
The Rebels’ Joe Anderson works the break against Alcoa Middle’s Dante Harris (30) and Isaiah Cox in the Blount County championship game on Thursday at Maryville Junior High. Photos by Keith Driver

By Stefan Cooper
Blount Press Row

Word to the wise to high school training staffs if there’s even a possibility your team could draw Joe Anderson next season: Order more ankle tape.

Get a lot of it.

The Maryville Junior High eighth-grader put on an exhibition of dribbling and passing that wowed the crowd — and one seasoned sportswriter — as the host Rebels held off Alcoa Middle, 44-42, in the championship game of the East Tennessee Middle School Basketball Tournament on Thursday.

Harris gets out front with Maryville's Drew Crowder (5), Jayden Manager (55) and an unidentified Rebel in pursuit.

Harris gets out front with Maryville’s Drew Crowder (5), Jayden Manager (55) and an unidentified Rebel in pursuit.

“He had an off night shooting,” Maryville coach Matt Fowler said, “but it didn’t effect his dribbling or his passing or his attitude.”

Staying in a stance in front of Alcoa eighth-grader Dante Harris isn’t going to be a lot of fun, either.

The Blount County championship duel wasn’t over until a Harris 3/4 court heave banked off the glass and rimmed out at the buzzer.

Ashton Maples put Anderson’s distribution to good use, pumping in a team-best 15 points, including three treys. Anderson followed with 10 and a 3-pointer.

“Ashton was hitting everything!” Anderson said.

“They started denying Joe and double teaming him,” Maples said. “Coach called a time out and we started moving the ball better.”

Drew Crowder hit twice from long range to finish with 8, with Seth Orren also connecting twice from downtown to add six.

Harris led all scorers with 19. He hit a 3, but it’s the way the heady guard managed the game that left the biggest impression.

Maryville's Ashton Maples (14) defends against Alcoa's A.J. Davis.

Maryville’s Ashton Maples (14) defends against Alcoa’s A.J. Davis.

A.J. Davis, grandson and son of Alcoa greats Albert Davis and Albert Davis III, respectively, pumped in eight for the Tornadoes. Big man Nick Roberts tacked on seven, including a trey.

The Rebels held a 14-12 lead at the half when the Tornadoes burst from the gates to start the third on an 18-4 run. A telling shift ensued when Anderson began penetrating the Alcoa zone and finding Crowder, Maples and Orren for open looks on the perimeter.

“Might have stayed in the 1-3-1 (zone) a little too long,” Alcoa coach Dyron Bledsoe said. “They got hot, and the 3-pointers got ’em back in the game.”

An Orren buzzer beater at the third quarter horn pulled Maryville within 31-26 to start the fourth.

Orren, Crowder and Anderson hit in rapid succession to start the fourth, with Crowder pumping in an encore 3 just past the midway point. When the dust settled, the Rebels led, 41-40, with 58 seconds remaining.

Three Maples free throws in the final 28 seconds kept Maryville clear.

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