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Tribe pays tribute to Douglass High on and off the court

Jeff Birchfield • Feb 2, 2020 at 1:00 PM

KINGSPORT — Inspired and motivated, Dobyns-Bennett scored a pair of basketball victories for the ages on Saturday night at the Buck Van Huss Dome.

Freshman Brady Stump hit a 3-point shot with three seconds for a 59-57 victory on a night when D-B players wore special uniforms to honor Douglass High and players from the former African American school were recognized between games against Jefferson County.

The boys’ victory followed the dramatic 34-33 win by the D-B girls a couple of hours earlier.

Celebrating the past with the replica uniforms, the teams played as the Tigers and Tigerettes for the evening. Stump and his teammates made sure it was also a celebration of the present.

See Todd Brase’s 📸📸 from Saturday

Zane Whitson grabbed an offensive rebound off a missed free throw by Jahson Dennis and found an open Stump for the game-winning shot.

“Before the play, I was like Zane, ‘Find me and I’m going to hit it for you,’ ” Stump said. “It felt great when it went through the net and the atmosphere tonight made it even better.”

Whitson finished with 12 points.

“Brady and I talked about it before the play,” Whitson said. “I told him that, ‘I’ve got your back and I’m going to get the ball to you.’ I knew if I could lower my defender, I could get the ball. Then, I was able to get him the shot to win the game.

“It felt great to push through. It was so awesome to represent our elders at Douglass High School and show them what Kingsport is about now as one big community.”

Another freshman, Jonavan Gillespie, made a 3-point shot to pull D-B (12-11) within a point. He led the Tribe Tigers with 13 points and Stump added 10.

“It’s fun playing out there with the big boys and I’m sure they were surprised to see us two freshmen doing our thing,” Gillespie said. “It was an honor for us to play for Douglass. It was more fun, more exciting than any other game I’ve played.”

Tribe coach Chris Poore noted that the odds were against Whitson getting the rebound, but he found a way, and was impressed by the play of his freshmen.

“Those kids aren’t scared of the big-time shots,” Poore said. “The plays they made late, the 3 that Brady made and on the previous possession, finding Jonavan behind him, those are special plays from youngsters.”

Malachi Hale and Jack Browder each contributed eight points in the D-B victory.

Noah Bowman led Jefferson County (15-10) with 11 points. Jacob Thompson had 10 and Tommy Griffen added nine.

AYERS COMES THROUGH

Megan Ayers hit a game-winning free throw with 15.9 seconds left to lift the Tigerettes over the Lady Patriots 34-33.

Down by six late in the second quarter, Ayers and Blaire Barrett knocked down 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions to tie the game at 16 at halftime.

Ayers continued to produce in the third quarter, scoring D-B’s last five points for a 27-23 lead heading into the final eight minutes. The Tigerettes built a six-point lead on Jaden Potts’ free throw before Jefferson County (20-3) stormed back to tie.

Jabrea Johnson had a tying basket before the Lady Patriots’ Alexa Gramman knotted it at 33 with 1:02 left. A turnover on Jefferson County’s last possession iced the win for D-B (20-7).

Ayers totaled a game-high 12 points. Gramman scored 11 for the Lady Patriots, who won the teams’ first meeting this season.

“We struggled when we played them at their place,” Ayers said. “It was hard to get any shots at the beginning, but it got easier to get shots off. It was a really good win, a really big game for us.”

Johnson, who had eight points, recalled how she talked with her teammates before tipoff about the significance of the game.

“It means a lot to us, to show our respect to those from Douglass,” Johnson said. “I told the girls before the game, it’s not just about us. It was about the previous players from Douglass. It was important to win this game.”

DOUGLASS TRIBUTE

The Douglass state championship trophy and other memorabilia were displayed throughout the arena. Tigers alum Calvin Sneed led the ceremonies between games and ABC News had a correspondent from Los Angeles on hand to cover the event.

At halftime of the boys’ game, former Douglass players were presented with trophies, and Kingsport Mayor Pat Shull gave a commemorative copy of the Times News to the Sons and Daughters of Douglass Alumni Association.

“It’s something that warms the heart,” Sneed said. “It’s something we should have done a long time ago because I think of the ones here tonight who can appreciate it, but then I think of the ones who have passed on and didn’t get this kind of recognition.”

Douglass’ two oldest lettermen on hand — Richard Watterson from the Class of 1943 and Bud Hickman from the Class of 1945 — received special recognition. Watterson served on the Kingsport Board of Mayor and Aldermen for 24 years and was vice mayor for well over a decade.

“It’s not Douglass’ history, it’s Kingsport’s history,” Sneed said. “We need to do this again. These players are older and they’re not going to be around that much longer. The more we can appreciate and pay tribute to them, the better we are as people, as sports fans and as the Kingsport community.”

Poore said the current D-B teams were proud to be a part of the evening.

“The whole experience was very special,” Poore said. “Our kids got to hear the stories of the Douglass players and see the passion that went into that school. To be a part of that, to be a part of the history was very special.”

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