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Admirals close to Murfreesboro — but no
Late-period collapses costly as Farragut falls at KDB in bid for state tournament appearance


Farragut wing James Hunter, left, drives to the hoop during Monday’s Sectional game at Kingsport Dobyns-Bennett. Hunter surpassed the 1,000 career point mark late in the season.- Dan Barile/farragutpress
Two outstanding efforts were spoiled by a few lousy minutes.

Farragut High School’s boys basketball team came painfully close to monumental victories in the Region 2-AAA Tournament and Sectional play Friday and Monday.

But thanks to extremely untimely turnovers and a couple of easy missed shots, the Admirals went 0-for-2 and barely missed out on a trip to the TSSAA Class AAA State Tournament.


Following a heartbreaking region championship game loss to Clinton Friday — 76-73 in overtime after blowing an eight-point lead with two minutes left in the fourth period due largely to three turnovers — the Admirals headed to Kingsport Dobyns-Bennett High School Monday and almost punched a ticket to Murfreesboro.

“We fought hard, I thought we played as well as we could play,” FHS head coach Donald Dodgen said of his team’s 58-54 loss that ended the Admirals’ season with a 22-9 record. “I was disappointed that we didn’t get to go where we needed to go, but there’s always next year.”

KEY SWING

Although the game was tied with under two minutes to play in the fourth quarter, Dodgen thought the game’s turning point came in the final 60 seconds of the third quarter.

Similar to the Clinton game except one quarter earlier, a Farragut collapse featuring two untimely turnovers and back-to-back three pointers from guard Ryan Blackwell quickly cut a 42-34 FHS lead with one minute left to 43-42 by quarter’s end.

“Those two three-pointers they made was the difference in the ballgame, I don’t care what anybody says,” Dodgen said. “And we were pushing again, trying to do things that we didn’t need to do. We get nervous a little bit, we’re trying to keep the lead. We’re trying to push it, and we can’t do that.”

Blackwell’s big shots sparked an eventual 13-1 Indian run well into the fourth quarter as KDB led 47-43 with 4:43 to play.

“We just didn’t hit some shots that we normally hit,” Dodgen said.

Though turning the ball over on its first three possessions of the fourth quarter while going almost six minutes with just one point, Farragut did rally.

Kyle Huckins, who helped carry the FHS offense in the first half with 12 points, converted a layup before Ben Wilson’s 15-foot jumper tied the game 47-47 with 3:05 remaining.

Two free throws from FHS wing James Hunter with 2:19 to play tied the game 49-49, but the Indians responded with their main man.

Star senior post Thomas Harrison, who led all scorers with 22 points, drew a foul inside and converted two free throws with 1:37 to play for a 51-49 KDB lead.

Farragut’s next two possessions featured two shots under the basket that misfired — a contested driving layup and an open rebound basket.

Three Indian free throws — two by Harrison, built the KDB lead to 54-49 with 1:02 left.

Following Greg Gibson’s three-point basket at the 44.7 second mark that cut the lead to 54-52, Harrison converted two more free throws with 29 seconds left for a 56-52 KDB edge.

The 6-foot-4 Indian senior, who converted 10 of 13 free throws in the fourth quarter, rebounded a misfired three-point shot but missed two free throws.

Hunter tipped in a misfired three-pointer with nine seconds showing, but KDB’s Jeff Morrison sank two free throws with five seconds to play to provide a two-score cushion.

FIRST 23 MINUTES

With solid offensive execution along with strong work on the defensive boards and holding Harrison scoreless in the second quarter, the Admirals built a 31-26 lead late in the second period. It was 31-30 at halftime.

Hunter, who led FHS with 15 points, joined Huckins as Farragut’s other big offensive weapon in the first half with nine points.

Though scoring only two points in the first half, Gibson converted a pair of nice spinning baskets in the lane as part of his six points in the third quarter. And his penetration also led to a pair of key assists that helped the Admirals build their eight-point lead.

Gibson’s last basket of the quarter put Farragut ahead 38-34 with 3:15 left, then his back-to-back drive-and-pass possessions resulted in layups for Michael Wright and Hunter. Hunter’s layup completed a 9-0 FHS run to make it 42-34 with 2:11 left in the third.

Another problem for Farragut was that starting posts Tim Torrence and Ben Bosse combined for only seven points Monday. Bosse, who picked up his third foul midway into the third quarter, fouled out with 29 seconds to play in the game.

Gibson scored 11, followed by Wright with five.

REGION HIGHLIGHTS

Bosse, Torrence and Gibson earned All-Region Tournament honors. In the title game Friday, Huckins led with 17 points followed by Gibson (15), Hunter (13) and Bosse (12).

Torrence and Gibson combined for 42 points in a 79-75 FHS region semifinal win against Halls Thursday. Torrence (22) and Gibson (20) were followed by Hunter’s 11 points.

In yet another down-to-the-wire FHS-Karns game – this one in the opening region game March 2 – Gibson’s 17 points and 16 from Torrence led the Ads in a 62-60 win, holding on as KHS missed a layup at the final buzzer.

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