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Rally at ORHS fails, but Ads rally past Clinton with defense

Looking to complete a memorable rally at Oak Ridge against the powerful Wildcats Jan. 3, Farragut came up empty late when needing critical points and fell by four. But 24 hours later in the friendly confines of Lynn E. Sexton Gymnasium, the Admirals clamped down defensively and held Clinton scoreless the final 4:52 of the fourth quarter — rallying for a 60-53 win Friday, Jan. 4.

“We were down 10 in the third quarter, and we bowed our backs and we fought and we came back,” said FHS head coach Donald Dodgen, whose team stood at 14-4 entering the week. “We did what we needed to do to win. Our defensive pressure came alive and we got them in a panic mode a little bit.

“They played so hard last night [Oak Ridge] in a game that was 64-60 and you play one of the best teams in state of Tennessee, so we came in just a little tired,” Dodgen added. “We had no emotion, our jump shots were short ’cause our legs were tired.

“But that’s the mark of a good team. We’re down ten — some teams would just fold and go to the house, but we fought back.”

Two huge baskets from John Abraham midway into the fourth quarter, 5-of-6 free throws made by Esean Phillips in the final 1:24 of play, a pair of Kyle Binder blocked shots and key steals from Riley Hunley propelled the Admiral rally.

“I hadn’t done anything all game, and I thought it was about time I hit something,” said Abraham, a starting senior wing, about his three-point basket that cut Clinton’s lead to 53-50 with 4:13 to play, then his 15-foot jumper that gave FHS the lead for good, 54-53, with 2:38 remaining.

About the Admirals late-game defense, Abraham said, “We just picked up the intensity and [made sure] number three [Clinton standout Quentin Young] wouldn’t get the ball to shoot, and pulled it out.” Young led CHS with 15 points.

Individually, Dodgen said, “Riley Hunley had some big steals, John Abraham made some big shots. Esean [Phillips] made some big free throws. Chris [Carroll] had some big rebounds and Kyle Binder had some big rebounds. … He had some big blocks for us. … Just a good team effort tonight.”

Hunley ended with seven steals, while Abraham had three. Carroll was the top boards man, grabbing 11 rebounds.

Ahead 44-34 late in the third quarter and 47-41 after three, Clinton was up 51-44 when Carroll’s short basket and foul shot on a three-point-play cut the lead to four with 5:01 left.

Farragut’s post players carried the Admirals’ offense in the first half. Binder, a 6-foot-6 senior who ended with a game-high 17 points, scored 10 of those in the second period as Clinton led 33-32 at the break.

Carroll, a 6-foot-4 senior post, put the FHS offense on his shoulders in the first quarter with eight points, and ended with 16.

Abraham had six points, Hunley four and Sam Watson and Jonathan Moore with two each.

About making critical free throws late, Phillips said, “You’ve just got to make them at the end, it’s crunch time.”

Despite the Dragons’ record dropping to 5-11, Dodgen said, “Clinton’s not a bad ballclub.”


With Farragut ahead by one point late, Dodgen said, “We had four trips and we didn’t get anything out of it. You can’t do that on the road. Oak Ridge is a fine ballclub, they’re one of the best teams in the area.

“We had ’em, and we didn’t finish ’em off,” he added. “I think we can learn from this. We just needed somebody to step up real quick right there.”

Down 53-42 in the final seconds of the third quarter, Dodgen labeled Farragut’s rally “one heck of a run.”

The Admirals defense also clamped down against the Wildcats (14-1 after the win), holding Oak Ridge scoreless for more than five minutes while its 12-0 run, ending with two Watson free throws, put FHS up 54-53 with 5:36 left.

Watson’s fast-break slam-dunk following a steal gave Farragut a 58-57 lead with 2:31 showing, but the Wildcats answered. Two jumpers, a seven-footer and 17-footer following a steal, put ORHS back ahead 61-58 with 1:25 to play.

Carroll’s low post pass to a cutting Moore for a lay-up cut the lead to 61-60 at the 1:04 mark.

Oak Ridge’s Quinche Dowdell then made a free throw but missed the second, but after a long rebound and scramble it was jump ball — possession Oak Ridge.

Jakari McClanahan’s basket on a driving pass from Jared Stephens made it 64-60 with only 26.7 second remaining.

Farragut’s inside duo of Binder and Watson, a 6-foot-7 junior, combined for 31 points — Binder 17, Watson 14. “I thought Sam Watson had a real good game for us,” Dodgen said. “Kyle Binder played well. [Oak Ridge] did a good job of cutting some of our other kids out.”

Seven of Moore’s 11 points came in the fourth quarter. Phillips added six points, Abraham and Carroll four each, and Justin Griswold and Hunley two apiece.

Dowdell led Oak Ridge with a game-high 20 points, followed by Stephens with 17.


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