Hitting the boards, ‘D’ lift Ads at HVA

HARDIN VALLEY — During Farragut’s undefeated November hoops stretch to begin the season, “We were defending and rebounding really well,” Admirals skipper Jon Higgins said.

With much emphasis on rebounding in practice, his FHS varsity boys re-discovered their November formula on the road, against rival Hardin Valley Academy no less, and the result was a 23-point lead after three quarters.

“For three quarters we were doing both of those things awfully well,” Higgins said about hanging on for a 79-69 District 4-AAA victory at HVA Friday night, Feb. 7.

“I think our biggest thing was rebounding. We’ve struggled getting out-rebounded,” said FHS sophomore wing Isaiah Smith, leading his team’s red-hot third quarter of shooting and crisp execution with 14 points, scoring a team-high 22 at game’s end. “… In practice and before the game, coach Higgins was really on us about boxing out.”

“I thought Isaiah played pretty well. When he gets hot and he gets going, it opens up the floor for us a little bit,” Higgins said.

“Farragut was able to get Smith going again, which hurt us,” HVA head coach Shane Chambers said.

About that huge Ads third quarter, pushing a 37-30 halftime lead to 65-42 after three frames, “We know we can score, and so we decided to get a little momentum, and some of our shooters hit shots,” said senior guard Robby Geron, who scored 17.

“Robby was moving. He wasn’t a point guard this game, and I think that helped us,” Smith said.

“Carter (Mayfield) played really well,” he added about the FHS sophomore point guard (16 points).

Mayfield’s solid play at the point allows Geron to operate at the wing “and attack from positions that are closer to the basket,” Higgins said. “… I thought Robby played extremely well tonight. I thought he rebounded well.

“I thought Carter Mayfield played an excellent game — especially for 29 minutes,” he added.

“… His inexperience showed right there in the last three minutes. But he’s never been in that position before where he’s the lead guard trying to finish a game.”

“Coach Higgins has been telling us weekly in practice, we need to work on getting the rebound and pushing it,” Mayfield said. “I felt we did a good job securing the rebounds so they didn’t get those second-chance points.”

While Farragut improved to 13-14 overall, 6-6 in district, after the win, HVA fell to 12-12 overall while also starting the week 6-6 in district.

FHS senior wing Kaleb VanAcker scored 10 points, Jake Wallace six, Noah Pack five and Saish Malluri three points.

While Hardin Valley senior wing/post Jack Niezgoda led all scorers with 27 points, Hawks junior guard Justin Sharp was quite effective driving to the basket in the fourth quarter, scoring 12 of his 16 points in the fourth to lead a rally.

“Justin Sharp, when he gets going offensively like that, that really opens up things,” Chambers said.

Overall, “In the first half we just couldn’t get going offensively,” he added.

“We weren’t really playing team ball.”

Sophomore wing Hudson Stokes scored 10 for HVA, Avery Sonenshein eight, Skyler O’Neal five, Nick Liakonis a two-point basket and Tanner Grantham a free throw.