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Chop House crown an FHS omen?


Perhaps Riley Hunley’s last-second running one-hander to beat Siegel and win the Chop House Classic for Farragut was a positive omen for 2007-08?

Hunley, a senior guard, is one of five boys basketball Admirals with extensive experience returning from last season’s 28-6 team that won the District 4-AAA league title, though only one is a returning starter.

Still, the Admirals are off to a 5-0 entering this week after winning the Chop House Crown at Central High School with a thrilling 68-67 victory against a Siegel team reportedly one of the best in Middle Tennessee.

“They say they’re number two in the state, that’s what they were telling us,” FHS head coach Donald Dodgen said. “They’re supposed to be the best team in Middle Tennessee.”

Farragut rallied from a 67-62 deficit with just 70 seconds to play, aided by a John Abraham three-pointer with a minute to play then an Abraham steal and free throw with 36 seconds left setting up Riley’s winning shot.

“I thought our kids handled a lot of adversity,” Dodgen said. “We didn’t shoot the ball exceptionally well. But at the end, we made the shots we needed to, and that’s what high school basketball’s all about.”

Saying the late rally was a character-builder, Dodgen added, “We bend but we don’t break. We’re always going to play hard. … We were five down, we never gave up. We did exactly what we needed to do to win.”

Individually, “I thought Riley played so hard out there tonight,” Dodgen added, as Hunley scored nine. “He’s played so hard this tournament. He’s stepped up when we needed him to.”

While Abraham and 6-foot-6 senior post Kyle Binder were named All-tournament, Dodgen added, “We had 12 All-tournament players.”

Chris Carroll, 6-foot-4 senior forward, led FHS offensively in the title game with 16 points. Abraham scored 10, as did Binder. Jonathan Moore had eight points.

Dodgen praised his bench’s relief work, providing FHS quality depth: “With Nate [Clark] and Sam [Watson] and Esean [Phillips] Justin [Griswold] and Ben Saunders, those five kids we left in for about four-and-a-half minutes just for a purpose.

“They knew what they needed to do,” Dodgen added. “They were giving [the starters] a rest so we could make that run at the end. I think that’s the difference in the ballgame.”

“It’s a good win for the Farragut High School program.”

Watson, a 6-foot-6 junior post, scored seven, Phillips six and Griswold two points.

About the late rally, Hunley said, “The biggest part was our defense. John Abraham got a big steal, and he hit another big three. Then we got a nice rebound off a missed shot.

“Coach works us hard in the fall, so we’re prepared for stuff like that.”

Binder’s 15 points, along with 10 each from Moore and Hunley, led FHS in a 59-40 win versus Kingsport Dobyns-Bennett in the Chop House semifinals Nov. 23.

Abraham’s 12 points plus 11 from Watson led a 70-29 Admiral rout of Cocke County in round one Tuesday, Nov. 20.

SEASON OUTLOOK

Phillips, a senior point guard, is Farragut’s only returning starter, but is part of a deep guard unit that includes Abraham, Hunley and Moore. Along with Binder, all five saw extensive time last season.

One key: “Binder’s going to have to score double-doubles for us [10-plus points and rebounds per game] inside to keep the inside game honest,” Dodgen said.

Other FHS players looking to contribute are junior Zach Warnock and sophomores Nathan Gibson, Landon Hunley and Reese Browning.

 

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