There were a few bumps and scrapes but no bruised egos for the Jellico High School boys during their Region 2-A Basketball Tournament opener Saturday against visiting Midway.
District 4-A MVP Cody Malicoat powered in 22 points as the No. 1 seed Blue Devils (19-12 overall) pounded the Green Wave, 72-45, while advancing to Tuesday’s semifinal round at Harriman.
Jacob Parkinson scored a team-high 11 points for Midway, the No. 4 seed from District 3-A.
“From the second quarter on, we got after it pretty good,” said Jellico coach Mike Reynolds.
“I thought our kids played well and with a lot of focus and intensity.”
Early on, Midway gave the Blue Devils fits. Parkinson scored 9 of his 11 points in the opening quarter to carry the Green Wave out to a 13-12 start. The lead changed hands half a dozen times until Jellico got rolling halfway through the second quarter and took a 35-21 halftime advantage.
“Obviously, you never want to take anything for granted, but I knew that we could (take over the game),” said Reynolds.
“It was just a matter of going out there and doing it.”
A smothering 1-3-1 half-court trap helped the Blue Devils break open a tight game.
Jellico had three big surges: an 18-4 run over the last half of the second quarter, a 20-6 run in the third quarter and a 9-0 spurt to open the fourth.
The Blue Devils enjoyed their largest lead, 67-32, before Reynolds emptied his bench early in the fourth quarter.
Malicoat scored 9 of his points in the second quarter. He also bombed in a 3-pointer and was a perfect 5-of-5 from the charity stripe. Point guard Lee England got 11 of his 15 in the third quarter; and Brent Ayers had 6 of his 10 during the second quarter.
In all, 10 players scored for Jellico. Point guard Gabe Mitchell finished with 7 points, Devin Oakes 6, Dustin Smiddy 4, Jerry Walker 3, Ethan Shelley and Jaspar Budd 2 each and Michael Smith 1.
Ayers was sidelined for brief time in the opening quarter after being hit in the mouth by an opposing player’s elbow. Walker played well in a mop-up role, and drained a 3-pointer in the fourth quarter before leaving the game with a broken nose.
Rounding out the scoring for Midway was Matt Jarvis with 10 points, including a pair of treys; Caleb Ruffner with 8 points; Adam Houser with 7; Clay Clower 5 and Josh Brummitt 4.
Not long after the final buzzer sounded Saturday night, the Blue Devils learned they would be playing an Oneida team they’ve already beaten three times this year in the region semifinals.
“Some people say that it’s hard to beat a team four times, but I feel that, if you’re good enough to beat ’em the first three times, you can beat ’em again,” said Reynolds.
Jellico defeated Oneida, 52-44, less than two weeks ago at Wartburg while en route to a district tournament championship.