‘Toughness’ pulls Fulton through in state opener
By Steve Williams
Jody Wright had a lot to fuss about after Fulton’s opening game in the TSSAA Class AA state basketball tournament, but he summed up in two words the most positive thing he would take away from his team’s struggle to get past Chattanooga Central.
“Our toughness,” answered the veteran head coach. “This game could have gone south so many times. It could have gone south at the first of the game, when we lost the lead in the fourth quarter, when the foul situation one time was 12 to 5.
“I was proud of our perseverance. We didn’t let the situation affect us. We kept grinding and that’s what you’ve got to do.”
Fulton pulled out a 52-49 win after falling behind 10-0 at the start Thursday at MTSU’s Murphy Center in Murfreesboro. The Falcons, who did not score in the first 4½ minutes, got back in the game with better shot selection and ferocious defensive play. They survived and advanced to play Fayette-Ware in Friday’s semifinals.
“We got off to a cold start because we came out and took horrible shots,” said Wright.
Freshman Trey Davis heated up to lead the way with 23 points. His output included a 60-foot swisher at the end of the third period that gave the Falcons (30-2) a seven-point lead.
Senior point guard Kentel Williams added 10 points and six steals despite foul trouble. Reserve power forward Chaton Mobley provided a huge boost at the start of the second half and finished with nine points, a team-high eight rebounds and four steals.
“Mobley had a great game,” said Coach Wright. “He was just a presence on both ends offensively and defensively. Joe Kimber (scoreless) was limited with foul trouble, but guys have to step up and that’s kind of what we’ve done all year – guys have stepped up and that’s what Chaton did today.”
Ryan Montgomery (19 points) led the Pounders, who rallied to take a 48-46 lead with a steal and layup by Jamichael Poole with 1:34 left in the game. McClendon Curtis added 12 points for Central (20-7).
A jumper by Davis tied the contest. He made 8 of 11 field goal attempts in the game, including 5 of 7 from 3-point range.
Pressure-packed free throw shooting by Davis and Williams in the final minute gave the Falcons their winning margin.
After the game, Davis noted that several players came off the bench to provide a spark for the slow-starting Falcons and Coach Wright concurred.
“In the first half, we had Kentel on the bench with foul trouble, and Larry Roe and Joe also were on the bench,” said Wright. “Guys like Markese Sheely, Donovan Filer, Mobley and Josh Berry came in and played well. When we were making a run we had some starters on the bench.”
HANDICAPPED: Wright was given a technical foul with three minutes left in the first period and by rule had to remain seated the remainder of the game.
“The official said I was out of the (coaching) box,” explained Wright. “There was a foul called and I think I had taken one step on the floor to talk to my guys about boxing out. I was not addressing anything to the officials at all. He said I told you once to get back in the box.
“Very unusual,” added Wright. “I’ve coached 30-some ball games down here (at state tourney) and never seen that, but it is what it is.”
Wright said the technical foul had nothing to do with trying to wake up his team or get his players fired up.
“No, that’s a handicap in a loud gym and game like this. That was a big handicap to us to have to sit down.”
ABOVE: Thousands of people attend Sunrise Services at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.
RIGHT: Homer Rodeheaver, an East Tennessee musician, rose to lead the nation’s largest choruses for Evangelist Billy Sunday and popularized Sunrise Services around the world.