The DeKalb Middle School Saints and DeKalb West Bulldogs each fought off slow starts to advance in the James C. Haile State Invitational Tournament on Saturday. The final outcome was not so rosy for the DeKalb Middle Lady Saints, however, as they were eliminated in their first round game.
The Saints hit the court first on Saturday at Middle TN Christian School in Murfreesboro, rallied from an early deficit and routed the Burks Middle School Panthers, 47-26. Cody Puckett led a balanced DMS attack with 12 points, as the Saints had to rally from a 10-6 deficit, midway through the second period. Using good defensive pressure, the Saints closed out the second on a 12-0 run, and led 18-10 at the half.
The rout was on from there, as the Saints scored the first four points of the second half to go up by 12 points. Burks closed to within eight at one point, but by the end of the third period, DMS owned a 34-20 lead. The Saints closed out the game with a 13-6 advantage in the fourth, and moved to Monday's semi-final game against Watertown.
Hunter Graham added eight points for the Saints, who improved to 17-3 on the season. Evan Curtis and Kalab Ferrell each tallied six points. Logan Floyd scored 13 points to lead the Panthers. The Saints will battle Watertown for a berth in the Haile Tournament final on Monday, at 11:00 a.m. The winner will move on to play for the boys' Large Division championship, on Monday, January 26th, at 6:45 p.m.
The Lady Saints were next to take the court among the local teams on Saturday, and the DMS girls fell short in their opening round game, as they fell to Pine Haven, 47-40. The game was tied, 9-9, at the end of the opening period, but the Lady Eagles opened up a 24-19 advantage at the half. DMS out-scored Pine Haven, 8-6, in the third period to pull to within three, at 30-27, at the end of the period, and the Lady Saints cut the deficit all the way to a single point, at 41-40, with just over a minute to play in the fourth period. Fouls and turnovers plagued the DMS girls in the final minute, as the Lady Eagles scored six unanswered points from the free throw line to close out the game.
Cori Jennings scored 15 points to lead the Lady Saints, who finished 10-11 on the season. Chelsea Lewis added nine points, while Lydia Foutch tossed in six.
The DeKalb West boys took the court on Saturday night, and edged out a 30-25 win over West Side school of Cannon County in overtime.
Neither team lit up the scoreboard in the first three periods, as West led, 4-2, at the end of the first period, and the Eagles rallied to tie the game, at 9-9, at the half. The Bulldogs went ahead, 14-11, midway through the third, but West Side rallied to take a 15-14 lead at the end of the third. The Eagles opened up a 21-17 lead, with 3:15 left in the fourth period, and led, 23-20, with just under three minutes to play. West School rallied, however, as Sonni Young scored five unanswered points to put the Bulldogs ahead, 25-23. With the lead in hand, West ran over a minute off the clock, late in the fourth, but the Eagles scored a pair of free throws which tied the game, with 31.9 seconds left in regulation. West Side then missed a pair of free throws with five seconds left on the clock, and Young missed a shot at the buzzer for West that would have won the game in regulation.
In overtime, the 'Dogs again ran time off the clock before putting up a shot. Taylor Leach scored what ended up being the game-winning points on a pair of free throws, with 34 seconds left in overtime, which put West up, 27-25. Young added a free throw, and Leach hit two more in the final second to seal the Bulldogs' victory.
Young tallied 15 points to lead the way for the West boys, while Leach and Braxton Atnip each added seven. Justin Tobin led West Side with 13 points. The DeKalb West boys will take on Friendship Christian, Monday, at 1:30 p.m. in the quarter-final round of the boys' Small Division.