Recap of the TSSAA State Championship Tournament
If you hadn’t heard by now,East High School won the Triple A State Championship over the weekend in Murfreesboro over Central, 71-61 but I wanted to do a recap of the weekend leading up to Saturday and all the teams that represented Memphis. I didn’t make it till Friday afternoon however I did get a chance to see Mitchell High take on perennial power Liberty Tech who won the state tournament last year in Double A and knock them out to advance to the state championship game. My second game that day was Central versus a tough Clarksville team who came out of tunnel not looking very imposing but then I remembered this same team gave White Station a fit last year but then they had Monte Burney who was a lights out shooter but they returned Daijon Williams who was pretty good in his own right. After the first half,Central was up 7, 28-21 and Clarksville waso n the verge on being down double digits but a late run including at one point 10 straight points by Williams and the Clarksville was in business with 1:21 left in the 4th quarter as Central got into survival mode, 62-60 however Central limited Williams by putting much bigger Andre Applewhite on him and only allowed them to score 2 more points as Central advanced to Saturday’s title game, 68-62. Applewhite had 29 points and 10 rebounds in the win. Williams led Clarksville with 34 points.
East took on Science Hill in the last Triple A game of the day after defeating Murfreesboro home town team Blackman but Science Hill early on looked like they wouldn’t let the Mustangs advance. I thought I had seen some great shooting when Bartlett played East in the sub-state game and I said to myself,no team will shoot the ball like that East will play but I was wrong in a big way. East shot a remarkable 72 percent from the field and 66 percent from the 3 line in the first half against Science Hill and you would have thought they would be up double digits but it was the opposite. The difference was Science Hill’s 7 trey balls, 4 by CJ Goods who was 4-5 in the 1st half and oh by the way,a 13 point lead for Science Hill. In order to get back in,it was simple East had to defend the 3 right? Well before they knew it, Goods hit 2 more deep ones and Zach Howard added one more as Science Hill increased their lead to 18 with a little over 5 minutes left in the 3rd, 55-36. I heard the radio announcer say that it looks like it might be a done deal for East but East didn’t go away so easily.Science Hill looked like they wanted to stall it a little bit,wrong idea and East went a big run (21-3) to end the quarter, 58-57 with Science Hill clinging to a once seemingly insurmountable lead. With 2:33 left in the 4th,Nick King who had a huge game with 31 points and 10 rebounds tied it with 2 free throws to make it 69-69. You just kind of had the feeling that East would win and they did, 81-71 outscoring Science Hill 45-16 in the second half. There you had it, Central vs East and Mitchell vs CPA,both in the state championship games on Saturday
Maybe you don’t know the story,maybe you didn’t hear right but Mitchell won 3 games last year!! To make it to the state was an accomplishment in itself,let alone making it to the state title game. CPA was strong all around with excellent guard play from Mr Basketball winner,Craig Bradshaw,Mr Basketball finalist,sophmore Jalen Lindsey and two sophmores,Braxton Bond and Vic Wharton. Being honest,I knew it would be a hard game for Mitchell but I thought if they defended out of their minds that they would have a chance but at the half,they were down 14 and they just didn’t get some shots to fall for them but the CPA team was really good as I stated. At the final buzzer,the score was 78-64 but Mitchell wasn’t embarrassed or blown out instead they kept fighting all the way till the time ran off the clock. Mario Mcneil lead them with 17 points followed by Jalen Blackwell who scored 12 points. I can’t say enough about the job that Coach Phillips did along with Andre Turner. To turn around the program after a few bad years and do it so quickly shows that it can happen with belief and pride and a winning attitude that a coach instills in his players. He preached discipline and defense and his players bought in and they made a run at the end of the year all the way to the title game. There is no shame in losing particularly when many said that Mitchell wasn’t even possibly capable of making it to the title game. Congratulations Mitchell High School and to Coach Phillips,he’s my Coach of the year regardless of classification.
East vs Central,the final game of the 2012 season,the TSSAA Triple A state championship game was held at 4:00 pm with both teams having nice crowds show up for their season finale. Did I say that both these teams are from the same district? Did I mention that both teams didn’t finish #1 in district? Needless to say,it just shows you how strong Memphis basketball is in Triple A. East got off to a much better start than they did against Science Hill and Central came out a little sluggish as they found themselves in a hole early. Without Andre Applewhite’s 11 points in the first half and Frank Herron’s 10,this game would have been lopsided but you just knew that this game would not end up being decided early only. Central went up after a 7-0 run,including a 3 pointer by D’airrius Sorrell for a 1 point lead late in the 3rd but East took command in the 4th. Central went on a drought of scoring and it cost them and by the time the game was under 2 minutes,Alex Anderson delivered a pretty dish to Earvin Morris to seal the game. The final score, 71-61,your state champions,the East Mustangs. Junior Matthew Butler hit 20 points including some clutch 3 pointers (4-7) and Tournament MVP,Nick King had 19 and 9 rebounds. Earvin Morris had 16 points to go along with 10 boards as well. Andre Applewhite had 26 points and 13 rebounds to lead Central. He along with Sorrell,Myron Johnson,Earvin Morris,Nick King and Matthew Butler were named to the all-tournament team. Another person who I thought should have been added was Jalen Selmon of East. He was great in all the game particularly the last two games. He was relentless on defense and he made a few key plays down the stretch in the title game. He made plays all weekend for East and to me was snubbed but in my book he was all tournament. For Central,their season ended in a loss but it was a victory t o me. Coach Applewhite’s team did something that I thought they couldn’t do and I will admit that,make it this far. Losing a player like they loss,losing 2 other starters and you thought it’s going to be a long season for the Warriors but yet they rose to the occasion. For,Andre Applewhite was their unquestioned leader,he scored 31 in their sub-state game to defeat Craigmont, and was huge the rest of the way. In fact I think he could have got some votes for Mr.Basketball in my opinion. He was everything I thought he would be and had a great high school career. Myron Johnson,Sorrell and Josh Jones all played key roles as well. To guys like Alex Anderson,it’s special,to the entire team it’s special and for the community,it’s that Binghampton pride restored. Congratulations East on a great season and a record 6th state title. Your 2011-2012 state champions,East High Mustangs.