KNOXVILLE — Saying he “pleaded” with his guards “to get the ball inside” during a halftime speech, coach Jon Higgins got the message across to his Farragut Admirals varsity boys team.
Senior post Nick Stedham scored 16 of his game-high 23 points in the second half, and fellow senior post Caleb Thompson added 17, as FHS overcame a 6-point halftime deficit at West — going on a 24-5 run for an eventual District 4-AAA road win.
Farragut fought off a Runnin’ Rebels’ fourth quarter rally, scoring the game’s final five points from the free throw line in the last 50 seconds, to edge West 50-46 at WHS Friday night, Dec. 1.
Meanwhile, breaking out of an offensive slump, the Farragut Lady Admirals more than doubled up West on the scoreboard.
Claire Wyatt, sophomore wing, scored 12 in the second quarter and ended with a game-high 17 points in an easy 59-29 district win. (More on Farragut’s girls later in this story).
About Stedham and Thompson, “I thought Caleb and Nick played fantastic. They played really big in the second half,” Higgins said. “We made a conscious effort at halftime to get the ball inside. That’s where our advantages were in this game.
“I pleaded with our big men to run the floor so they could create opportunities for themselves,” Higgins added. “And when they got those opportunities tonight they made do with it.”
“My teammates had my back, just hyping me up and telling me to ‘keep shooting it,’” Stedham said. “Caleb did a good job, he really got me going on the offensive boards.
Also referencing “our good defense,” Stedham added, “It’s just fun to see everybody playing well.”
“They changed up their defense and went to zone, and we didn’t execute in our zone offense very well,” said West head coach Chris Kesler, whose team fell to 2-3 overall, 1-2 in district. FHS improved to 3-4, 1-1.
“For us the key was we needed to stop turning the ball over,” Higgins said. “That’s what dug us that hole in the first half. We had 13 turnovers in the first half against the zone [defense]. We only had five in the second half.”
Keeping their composure after blowing a 39-31 lead early in the fourth quarter — West went ahead 56-55 after a steal-turned-layup with 50 seconds to play — was something the Admirals had failed to do in recent games, Higgins said.
“It’s all just up here in your head. You’ve got to be ready mentally and you’ve just got to be strong,” Thompson said.
“Luke Moeller came in in the second half and really played big for us,” Higgins said about his senior post. “Both defensively and grabbing some timely offensive rebounds.
“I was impressed with our guards [seniors Chris Dalton and Ethan Sherrill] as far as taking care of the basketball in the second half.”
Trevion Moreno had four points for the Ads. Dalton, Sherrill and Tharrin Shuler each scored two.
Jason Mayfield, FHS girls head coach, said his team “played better offensively tonight. We took smarter shots, we moved the ball around a little bit more. I think we made nine 3[-point baskets] tonight.
“Claire Wyatt obviously stepped up a big way,” Mayfield added. “I’ve been trying to get her to be more aggressive with her shot.”
“My teammates did a really good job of getting me the ball,” Wyatt said.
Brooke Christian and Morgan Carbaugh each scored nine for the Lady Ads (4-2, 1-1). Other FHS scorers were Sydney Chapman with seven, Madison Hodge six, Kenyonna Bourne five, and three each for Hailey Johnson and Saige Carbaugh.