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Pioneers edge Tribe for key Big 7 victory

Tanner Cook • Jan 31, 2020 at 10:42 PM

JONESBOROUGH — On homecoming Friday night, David Crockett closed out a huge Big 7 Conference win over Dobyns-Bennett, topping the Indians 42-40 behind exceptional defense and taking care of the basketball down the stretch.

The Pioneers seized a two-possession lead, 40-36, with 2:15 left, and the Indians couldn’t match them. Down 40-38, D-B’s Zane Whitson was fouled with four-tenths of a second left but missed both free throws.

Crockett (16-8, 6-3) tied the Tribe (11-11, 6-3) for second place in the Big 7 standings.

“We focused a lot on taking away the high post, which is what beat us in the last game,” Crockett coach Cody Connell said. “They kept getting the ball to Zane and he killed us down low. We also took away the shooters and we held arguably the best player in the conference in Abiah (Releford) to five points. As a coach, I can’t ask for anything more.”

Dawson Wagner led the Pioneers with 10 points and Donta Hackler had nine. Crockett, normally a good perimeter shooting team, shot just 16% from long range and hit only four 3-pointers.

“We won the ballgame with only one kid in double digits,” Connell noted. “If you would have told me that before the game, I would’ve said you were crazy.”

D-B had its own shooting issues. Brady Stump led the Indians with nine points.

“We don’t have a team that can blow people out, so our games are going to be close,” D-B coach Chris Poore said. “What wins close games is what we’re not good at right now. We’re not gritty and tough enough to get a stop when we have to have it. We’re passive at times and we turn the ball over too much.

“I don’t think that we’re where we need to be. Most of it is maturity and understanding. Those are areas that we’ll grow in, but we need to grow up fast if we want to have a chance.”

After a mostly defensive first half, Crockett grabbed a 21-17 halftime lead on late 3-pointers by Eric Dunbar and Avery Letcher. The Pioneers held the Indians scoreless for a four-minute stretch.

D-B GIRLS GET PAST CROCKETT

The Lady Indians used a potent inside game to earn a 40-35 win.

Jabrea Johnson, Caitlyn Wallace and Injoi Bristol all came up in big spots for the Tribe in the second half, contributing 11, six and six points, respectively.

“This is what this team has been about,” D-B coach Bill Francis said. “I thought Elle (Francis) started us off while Megan (Ayers) and Jabrea carried us in the second half. (Jaden) Potts managed the game well down the stretch and we had seven players really contribute in more ways than scoring.”

After letting Crockett (13-12, 4-5) go out front 17-15 with 7:52 left in the third quarter, D-B went on an 8-0 run to seize a 23-17 lead and never looked back.

The Lady Indians (19-7, 8-1) extended their 2-3 zone defense beyond the 3-point line for most of the night and it proved effective. The Lady Pioneers managed only five first-quarter points.

The Lady Pioneers trailed by five entering the last two minutes of the second quarter, but Crockett rallied and tied the score at 15 at the break on a Mackenzie Baldwin three-point play with no time left on the clock.

“We tried to mix it up tonight, switching between man and zone,” Coach Francis said. “We got away from the zone in the second half. Baldwin is tough and she really stepped up and scored for them tonight. We didn’t really expect that.”

Baldwin finished with a game-high 12 points. Halle Scott contributed 11 for Crockett.

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