HALLS—It appeared as if Campbell County was going to have a runaway victory.
The game plan was working, as the Cougars took an early 9-0 lead in the first three minutes of the ball game.
However, two bucketed free throws by J.J. Corvette with 5:03 remaining sparked a 13-0 Halls run to take back control of the game.
Campbell County answered with a 6-0 run of their own, before going to the second quarter up 15-13. Halls would take the win, however, 53-42.
“We were just executing the game plan, really,” head coach Matt Housley said. “We feel like there’s not a lot of teams in the district that can guard Trey (Torres) or Roston (Letner). We tried to do that early, and we did a really good job, not only with the 9-0 run, but we got their point guard, their shooting guard and their post in foul trouble in the first quarter. We executed that well, and we handled their ball pressure well. We just shot some silly shots early, and that fueled their fast break run. They hit us with a 13-0 run. We finished it with a 6-0, so kind of back and forth. That’s the kind of team they are. They can put points up in a hurry.”
The Red Devils took away Campbell County’s offensive weapon in Darrin Gillenwater, holding him to only eight points.
The Cougars couldn’t manage a trey in the first half, while only knocking down three in the second half.
“That was big,” Torres said. “We knew they thought we could shoot, so they were going to guard us out far. They don’t play help defense. They started about the second half, because we were driving, and it opened it up for the three. It opened up the second half, and we started getting a couple threes up.”
Torres and Letner driving the ball helped propel the Cougars. While the long ball was lacking, the duo hit the paint, as Torres found himself at the line most of the night.
“They know. The word’s got around,” Housley said. “Darrin and Seth, they’re good shooters. Trey and Roston knew that tonight, and they knew that help wasn’t going to be there to cover down. They both did a really good job for us. I felt like the first half, the refs gave Trey a lot of the fouls that were fouls. The second half, he was getting bumped the entire way up the floor. We’re not saying that if he’d got the calls we’d have won, but we did a really nice job of isolating those guys and getting them the ball going to the rack.”
Torres finished the game with a team-high 14 points. Seth Pebley added nine points, while Gillenwater finished with eight. Letner contributed seven points and Tucker Cain four.
For the Red Devils, it was Kenny White who finished with 25 points. Peyton Booker added 13 points.
“They’re really good at layups and long range,” Housley said of Halls. “Guys that are usually scoring a lot for them didn’t have anything tonight, because we took the three game away. [White] just hit some really tough shots on us. He’s a good player, and he had a hand in his face on all of them.”
The Cougars fall to 6-12 overall, while posting a 2-7 record within District 3-AAA after winning three of the first four on the season.
However, Housley said he’s not worried.
The progression his team has showed over the past months have been enough to see what could happen.
“We’ve talked, and we know if you told us back in November when we played Lenoir City that we’d be 2-7 in the district, we wouldn’t have believed you,” Housley said of the 105-94 win in the first game of the year. “We’re not where we want to be, and we’re not where we expected to be.”
Over the past two seasons, the No. 6 team in the district has upset the No. 3 seed in the tournament in order to make it to the regional tournament.
In 2012, Campbell County did it, while Clinton took the honors last year.
“We know that we’re not happy where we’re at right now,” Housley said. “Seventh place or sixth place will never be accepted here, but I am proud of the way we’re playing right now. I told the guys tonight that if we’d played Halls back in November or at the Maryville tournament, they would have beaten us by 35 points, just because we weren’t playing as a team. Although the sting of it hurts and we’re not where we want to be, we are improving each and every day.”