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HVA boys basketball makes history, wins
Hawks win in OT versus ’09 state tourney program

LENOIR CITY — That seemingly huge victory barrier Hardin Valley Academy boys basketball had yet to penetrate in 34 games, spanning two seasons, finally came crashing down Monday.

The victims were fellow “Valley brethren,” a Walker Valley program just one year removed from a Class AAA state tournament trip.

Hardin Valley’s boys program claimed its first-ever varsity win, in game No. 35, needing overtime during opening round Lenoir City Christmas Classic 2009 action Dec. 28 at LCHS. The Hawks hung on, then went wild with joy, after a 67-64 victory.

“We basically proved that we’re not a losing team,” said senior forward Dominic Ratliff, who pumped in a game-high 29 points. “If we compete hard we’ll win games.”

Keys to success? “We played real hard on defense,” Ratliff said. “We knocked down shots, and we held the ball when we were ahead to wind down the clock.”

HVA sophomore forward Tevin Gunn, who scored 15, said the win “just feels incredible.”

“Coach [Keith Galloway] has been pushing on us to play four quarters,” Gunn added. “We had been playing three quarters the whole season, and this one we put the fourth quarter together.

“I’m more than proud of my teammates, who just did amazing. We all worked as a team, which is a struggle that we’d been having.”

Guards Hunter Smoak and Justin Wakefield, both seniors, each scored seven, followed by V. J. Brown with four, Sherrius Smith three and two from D.J. Kellogg.

Kellogg, a junior guard, said the win “means a lot to the team, to the school, to the whole program because we worked so hard in the off-season.”

Galloway said he was “proud of our boys for just going out there and sticking to the gameplan ... being patient on offense, playing their tails off on defense.

“That was the best we’ve competed all year.”

About winning, Galloway added, “When you can win a game and get that monkey off your back — and win a close game — and when you get other situations like that it just makes it so much easier.”

With HVA leading by just one point, 65-64, and only 10.8 seconds left in OT, Hawks sophomore guard V.J. Brown converted two free throws. A WVHS three-pointer at the gun misfired.

“V.J. Brown hit two big free throws at the end,” Galloway said.

Trailing 47-41 early in the fourth quarter, the Hawks used a Smoak jumper and eight straight points from Ratliff for a 10-0 run, going up 51-47 with 4:03 left in regulation.

But a 6-0 Mustangs run put WVHS up 54-51 with 1:22 to go.

Ratliff hit one of two technical foul shots, then Brown’s driving lay-up from in front tied the issue 54-54 at the 1:08 mark.

Smith rebounded a Walker Valley miss, and the Hawks stalled for the last shot. But HVA lost possession in the last couple of seconds, forcing overtime.

Wakefield’s driving basket, drawing a foul and converting a three-point play, gave HVA a 57-56 lead it would not relinquish.

Ratliff converted a fast-break lay-up and Wakefield added two free throws and a defensive rebound with the Hawks leading 62-58 and 1:10 left. A Ratliff offensive rebound and two Smoak free throws made it 65-60 at the 42.4 second mark.

“Walker Valley is a good team, they lost a lot of kids from last year but they went to the state tournament last year,” Galloway said. “And that team is better than a lot of the teams that we’ve played.”

Hardin Valley’s girls (5-5) fell to Walker Valley (13-1) in LC Classic action 46-33 Monday despite being tied 29-29 late in the third quarter.

“In the fourth quarter they just out-hustled us,” HVA interim head coach Brianne Dodgen said. “We started out real slow ... didn’t have our legs. I don’t think we were ready to play in the first half.”

Individually, “Tiffany Cantrell (seven points) and Jennifer Schilling (two) played well inside,” Dodgen said. “Defensively they crashed the boards well.”

The Lady Hawks overcame a nine-point second quarter deficit to tie the game 24-24 at halftime.

“We did a good job moving the ball around, looking for the open people,” said junior post Emily Cornelius, who scored seven of her nine points in the first half.

Junior guard Lauren Trent nailed three 3-point baskets for her nine points. “Lauren Trent had a pretty good shooting night,” Dodgen said.


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