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These Tornadoes could end the wait

Alcoa coach Ryan Collins watches over the Tornadoes during a game earlier this season. Photos by Wallace Bowden

By Stefan Cooper
Blount Press Row

Maybe it was the David Davis shot at the buzzer to win it in triple overtime.

Perhaps the fact David Marsh, a high school All-American and one of the school’s all-time greats, was on that team.

Whatever the reason, fans of Alcoa basketball have hungered for another since the 1967 Tornadoes completed a magical state championship run that season. Tiny Alcoa outlasted Holston and Tennessee signee Jimmy England in a thriller at Tennessee’s Stokely Athletics Center.

Led by new school record holder and Mr. Basketball finalist Jahvin Carter, these Tornadoes have played the schedule to weather three games in three days to end the title drought. This Alcoa team also looks balanced and battle-tested for what lies ahead.

Alcoa (27-8) meets Pearl Cohn (21-8) in a BlueCross Class 2A state quarterfinal Thursday morning at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro.

Tipoff at the Murphy Center is 10 a.m. CST.

Carter, a junior, overtook former Tornado Travis Stinnett’s record for career scoring in February. With a season to go, it’s more than okay to assume the ball-handling wizard could become the first Tornado to reach 2,000 points.

Just don’t be mistaken he’s all Alcoa has on this run.

The play of sophomore Eli Owens inside will be pivotal for the Tornadoes this weekend in Murfreesboro.

“I think we have a really good, balanced basketball team,” Alcoa coach Ryan Collins said. “I think we have a really deep basketball team. The biggest difference between this year and last is how many more threats on the floor we have.

“Yes, Jahvin is phenomenal and he’s carried us and been great at what he does all year, but we’ve got a lot of kids who can play and contribute to winning in their own way as well.”

“We don’t rely on Jahvin scoring 30, 40 points a night,” sophomore center Eli Owens said, “but, when he does … we just win by more.”

Alcoa tends to fare well against teams who bring the double team and deploy exotic defenses to stop Carter and, by consequence, Alcoa, sophomore point guard Eli Graf said.

“Obviously, he’s our best player,” he said, “but he’s also a good passer. He can distribute the ball. He averages like four, five assists per game. Every team’s tried to stop him, but no one can. Even if they contain him, we’re still winning games because other people are stepping up.”

The key has been not getting ahead of himself, Carter said.

“I just try to be level headed and stay humble,” he said of all the acclaim this season. “Anything can happen. We got to state but we haven’t won state. So, we’re not satisfied, that’s for sure.”

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