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Sizzling Powell ends FHS season

Shortly after his team’s season was ended by Powell in the Region 2-AAA quarterfinals, Farragut boys head coach Donald Dodgen was eating what he described as “cold” French fries in his office.

Perhaps a metaphor for his Admirals’ shooting touchin a 71-59 setback to the Panthers Saturday, Feb. 24, in FHS’s Lynn E. Sexton Gymnasium.

Especially cold in relation to Powell’s red-hot shooting touch, nailing 13 three-point baskets while converting 23 of 26 free throws (10 of 10 in the fourth quarter), as the Panthers zoomed ahead 14-3 early and were never caught.

Powell, which entered region semifinal action 23-9, reportedly shot around 70 percent in the first half. But thanks to Farragut’s 21-point second quarter, the PHS led was only 36-32 at the break.

The Panthers ended with five scorers in double figures, led by Chris Conner with 20.

Crediting Powell for “executing well” in getting open three-point attempts and drawing fouls on drives to the basket, Dodgen added the Panthers “are a hard match-up for us. ... They move the ball well, they shoot the ball well. They did a good job of controlling the ballgame.

“We did not shoot the ball very well,” Dodgen added. “And we were tight. We just didn’t execute.”

Powell handed Farragut its only regular season home loss, 69-54, Jan. 2.

The District 4-AAA League champion Admirals, ranked eighth in the state before losing to Maryville in the 4-AAA tourney title game last week, end with a 28-6 record. Dodgen has led his team to region play in all 11 years as FHS head coach.

Five seniors played their final games in an FHS uniform Saturday: District 4-AAA MVP Will Akers, All-District posts Zach Onusic and Phil Kinney, starting guard Mason Burks and key reserve post Clay Wilhoite.

“They’re a special bunch,” Dodgen said. “I knew when we got ’em as freshmen they were a special bunch. I feel for them, it’s tough for them in [the locker room] right now.

“I couldn’t ask for a nicer bunch of kids, they’re super kids,” Dodgen added. “They’ve accomplished a lot.”

Kinney, who scored a team-high 16 points — 11 in the second frame with three 3-point baskets — remembered a close bond with his four senior teammates dating back to younger days.

“I moved here before my freshman year, and they’re pretty much the first guys I ever met,” Kinney said. “Like my family.

“I can’t believe it’s over.”

Burks scored 11, third among Admirals behind Onusic’s 14, goes back even further with team bonds.

“We’ve been together a while now, we’ve been pretty good friends,” Burks said, “We hang out when we can.

“Me, Will and Clay have been together since fifth-grade, playing together,” he added. “Phil and Zac came in our freshman year.

“We’re a close team, not just us seniors.”


Powell’s 12-point first quarter lead, 17-5, was cut to 38-37 after Onusic’s three-point basket less than two minutes into the third quarter.

But Daniel Hansen, who ended with 13 points, answered with a three.

PHS teammate Jason Seymour scored seven points in the final 2:58 of the third with a pair of threes, the last one a four-point play (free throw added after a foul) for a 50-42 lead at the 1:05 mark. It was 53-45 after three periods.

“I kept thinking, ‘if we could ever get the lead we’re going to be alright,’” Dodgen said. “But every time I thought we were going to be able to get the lead, they’d hit a three or miss a shot and put it back in.

“I kept waiting, I knew we were going to make a run somewhere,” he added. “But whenever we made a run, they counteracted it.”

The Admirals cut the deficit to four, 55-51, following Esean Phillips’ steal and fast break lay-up with 5:48 to play.

Perhaps symbolic of the night was a near-steal that turned into a Panther dagger late in the game.

Onusic was painfully close to a steal that would have left him sailing downcourt for an uncontested basket. It would have trimmed the PHS lead to three.

Instead, Tyler Howell was left open and drained a three-pointer to make it 63-55 with 2:16 remaining. Howell scored 13.

“It wasn’t meant to be,” Dodgen said, adding Farragut came into the game shooting “over fifty percent from the floor” this season.

Akers, averaging 11 points per game entering Saturday’s play, scored just two. The senior was hampered with foul problems, picking up three in the first half then getting his fourth just one minute into the third period.

Other FHS scorers were Phillips with six, Kyle Binder four and John Abraham and Jonathan Moore with three each. At the foul line, the Admirals were only 4-of-9.

But looking back on 2006-07, “I told the kids, ‘this has been a heck of a season,’” the coach said. “People picked us to be fourth or fifth in the district.

“The kids have won twenty-eight ballgames and I’ve lost six,” Dodgen added. “These kids have been a great bunch for me this year.”


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