Blount Press Row

Let The Groove In

Tornadoes need more than Harris to reach state

Alcoa sophomore Dante Harris poses with a commemorative basketball after being honored for becoming the fastest player to 1,000 career points in school history.

By Stefan Cooper
Blount Press Row

It was impressive — and worrisome — all at the same time.

After sitting much of the third with foul trouble, Dante Harris roared back into the fray with 14 fourth-quarter points, part of a 32-point effort on the night that saw the sophomore guard eclipse another of the greats on Alcoa’s all-time scoring list.

The rest of the Tornadoes in that fourth quarter in a 53-44 loss to Fulton in last week’s Region 2AA championship game?

Zip. Not a point.

Jalen Carter’s two free throws accounted for all of Alcoa’s scoring in the third.

Even Rick James had the Stone City Band.

Tonight would not be a good night for an encore as Alcoa (21-10) visits Grainger (23-8) for a Section 1AA clash, a berth in next week’s boys state tournament on the line. It’s all hands on deck for this one, Tornadoes coach Joel Kirk said.

“Oh, it’s huge for all 14 of our guys, playing or not,” he said. “It will take a full team effort. (We’re) going into a hostile environment, but our guys will be pumped and also know what’s at stake!”

Tipoff is 7 p.m.

Harris moved past former Tornado David Marsh, the only high school All-American in the history of the boys program, with last Thursday’s outburst.

Harris’ 1,064 points has him 14th on Alcoa’s all-time list. Former Tornado Travis Stinnett sits way off in the distance at No. 1 with 1,748 points.

(Editor: See updated table below.)

Harris subbed out with his third foul with three minutes to play in the third against the Falcons. Fulton held a 34-30 lead at the time. By the time the Alcoa point guard returned for the fourth, the Falcon lead was 13.

Nick Roberts gets locked in at the free-throw line during the region semifinal against Union County.

More telling, when Harris collected his fifth with 26 seconds to play, the ground to make up for the Tornadoes was only three.

“They (the Tornadoes) got open looks,” Kirk said. “We just didn’t hit ‘em.”

It’s not that the Tornadoes don’t have the scoring options if tonight becomes a shootout. Sophomore forward Nick Roberts is as versatile an inside/outside threat as they come. Mekhi Carter is Alcoa’s top 3-point option, but the senior swingman also has a nice floor game.

Isaiah Cox, Jalen Carter, Tristan Blankenship, each has had a big offensive night for the Tornadoes in recent weeks.

If the Tornadoes are to return to state after a lengthy absence, tonight would be a good time for a reprise.

Alcoa 1,000-point scorers

Travis Stinnett (1994-98)
Micah Marsh (1990-94)1,674
Dennis Godfrey (1970-73)1,469
David Davis (1963-67)1,374
Brian Davis (1990-94)1,367
Ronnie Pittard (1966-70)1,343
Jim Riddick (1955-59)1,313
Jeremy Stache (1998-2002)1,309
Chad Smith (1986-90)1,226
Mark Burnette (1974-77)1,182
Chuck Ogle (1972-75)1,153
Richard Marsh (1960-64)1,128
Eddie Williams (1974-77)1,111
* Dante Harris (2017-present)1,110
David Marsh (1964-67)1,061
Bucky McGill (1957-61)1,017
Steve Cobble (1962-65)1,002

* Updated with state tournament results from March 15 against Livingston Academy.

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