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Roberts powers Alcoa Middle to TMSAA sectional championship

Alcoa Middle’s Nick Roberts eyes the rim as Maryville Junior High’s Ashton Maples defends in the TMSAA East Sectional championship game on Saturday at Sevierville Middle School. Photos by Keith Driver

By Stefan Cooper
Editor
Blount Press Row

Sevierville – Nick Roberts from 3 …

Nick Roberts left of the key …

Nick Roberts right of the key …

Nick Roberts off the break …

Maryville's Ashton Maples goes up for the rebound with Roberts, left, and Ty Boyd.

Maryville’s Ashton Maples goes up for the rebound with Roberts, left, and Ty Boyd.

Maryville Junior High never found a defense to slow the Alcoa Middle big man, Roberts powering the Tornadoes to the biggest prize there is in middle school basketball Saturday afternoon at Sevierville Middle.

Pouring in a game-high 14 from all over, Roberts drove the Tornadoes to a 45-29 win over their rivals in the championship game of the Tennessee Middle School Athletic Association East Sectional.

Middle school basketball does not have a state tournament.

Tornado point guard Dante Harris followed Roberts into double figures with 12 points, with A.J. Davis adding seven, Isaiah Cox and Ty Boyd six each.

The Rebels, who defeated the Tornadoes, 44-42, in last week’s Blount County championship game, struggled for the duration with an Alcoa zone that pushed Maryville shooters farther and farther from the basket for open looks. It proved telling with the semifinals only the night before.

“Alcoa had a great game plan,” Maryville coach Matt Fowler said. “They played a zone and we didn’t do a good job of getting it inside. If we make a few (3s) early, maybe it forces them to go man.”

Sharpshooter Ashton Maples didn’t connect on Maryville’s first 3-pointer until four minutes remained. The Tornadoes (26-4) held a 31-16 advantage at that point.

Luke Walker warmed in the second half en route to pacing the Rebels with 11 points, with Maples hitting again from deep in the closing minutes to finish with eight.

The two Maples 3s were Maryville’s only tallies from the arc.

A.J. Davis drives the lane as Joe Anderson goes for the steal.

A.J. Davis drives the lane as Joe Anderson goes for the steal.

“Most of their shots were contested,” Alcoa coach Dyron Bledsoe said. “We didn’t give them any easy points.”

Jayden Manaker finished with six points for the Rebels (28-2), Zane Duggar and Drew Crowder two each.

“We really stepped up our defense and moved the ball a lot,” Roberts said. “The last game we stopped moving the ball. They’re a great team. We just really wanted to distribute the ball better.”

Roberts, the tournament’s most valuable player, didn’t waste any time getting started, putting home a bucket in the lane for the game’s first basket. Cox followed quickly with a trey. Roberts then pumped in eight points, including a pair of 3s, as Alcoa commenced a 12-2 run that opened a 17-4 lead with three minutes to play in the half.

Maryville trimmed the deficit to 19-10 at the break, but the Rebels’ blistering perimeter shooting from the night before never returned.

“We played bettrer defense tonight and boxed out well,” Harris said.

First Harris, with a 3, then Davis, off the drive, revved Alcoa’s engine when play resumed. By the end of three, the Tornadoes held a commanding, 30-16 lead.

Boys all-sectional team
Charlie Browder, Robinson; Keyo Taylor, Sevierville; Jake Matherne, Liberty Bell; Ricky Guthrie, Rhea County; Jack Replogle, Jefferson; Jonathan Stewart, Jefferson; Luke Burnett, Heritage; Noah Perkins, Heritage; Luke Walker, Maryville; Ashton Maples, Maryville; Joe Anderson, Maryville; Ty Boyd, Alcoa; A.J. Davis, Alcoa; Dante Harris, Alcoa; Nick Roberts, Alcoa, tournament most valuable player.

Girls all-sectional team
Bri Dunbar, Robertsville; Jenna Kallenberg, Carpenters; Alihana Hill, Liberty Bell; Alasia Smith, Liberty Bell; Krista Crager, Meigs; Bailey Anderson, Cleveland; Katie Cunningham, Maryville; Sarah Satterfield, Maryville; Emily Ellison, Jacksboro; Madison Brady, Jacksboro; Mary Welch, Rhea County; Haley Cameron, Rhea County; Tare Stout, Rhea County; Mallory Hampton, Rhea County, tournament most valuable player.

Alcoa Middle Tornadoes, 2015-16 TMSAA East Sectional Champions

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