Austin-East pulls away from Scott in district opener

Isaac Morrow draws contact and attempts a shot in the paint during Scott High's loss at Austin-East on Friday, Dec. 1, 2017. (LeEtta Boyatt/IH)
Isaac Morrow draws contact and attempts a shot in the paint during Scott High's loss at Austin-East on Friday, Dec. 1, 2017. (LeEtta Boyatt/IH)

KNOXVILLE — Scott led early, but Austin-East simply had too much offensive firepower in Friday’s District 4-AA opener here, pulling away for an 80-60 win over the Highlanders.

Christopher Hunter had 29 points to help lead his team to the win.

Hunter was particularly important in the first quarter, which saw the Highlanders hitting on all cylinders. Caleb Ball — who had a team-high 12 points — hit a couple of 3-point shots and finished with eight points in the first eight minutes, while Richie Dykes tacked on seven and Mason Tucker added six. But Hunter had 11 to help Austin-East keep things closer than they might’ve otherwise been, and Scott’s lead was just one point as the second quarter began.

There, Austin-East continued to play well, equaling its 22 points from the first quarter while holding Scott to just 11 and building a 44-34 halftime lead.

The third quarter was just as even as the first quarter was, with Logan Goodman, Bryson Russ and Kadon Babb each hitting 3-point shots to help Scott hang with the Roadrunners. But the fourth quarter saw Austin-East again surge, scoring 20 points to widen the gap until the final horn.

Scott shot the ball well, hitting 54 percent from the field, including 46 percent from long range, but Austin-East was even more effective on offense to hand the Highlanders the early loss in district play.

AUSTIN-EAST (80): Hunter 29, Pierson 15, Upton 12, Bullard 9, Allen 8, West 2, Kyle 2, Jackson 2, Foster 1.

SCOTT (60): Ball 12, Dykes 10, Tucker 8, Russ 7, Morrow 6, Babb 5, Hembree 4, Goodman 3, Lauderdale 3, Owens 2.

Cumberland Gap 46, Scott 45: The Highlanders’ final non-district warm-up before the start of district play ended in heartbreak in Claiborne County on Tuesday, Nov. 28, as Evan Jackson hit a long-range buzzer-beater to lift his team to a 46-45 victory.

Jackson, who led all scorers with 15 points, hit a long shot after an inbounds pass with 4.7 seconds left, providing unlikely offense on a night that was controlled by either team’s defense, and allowing Cumberland Gap to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

The shot allowed the Panthers to nullify a spirited fourth quarter comeback by the Highlanders, and helped Cumberland Gap overcome several missed free throws that might otherwise have returned to haunt them at game’s end.

Jackson hit four 3-pointers on the night — one in each quarter — to lead his team. Scott was led by Mason Tucker’s 11 points.

The first quarter was played evenly, with Isaac Morrow scoring five points to lead the Highlanders to a 12-12 tie with Cumberland Gap. But Jake Templin scored six second quarter points to help the Panthers pull away for a 25-19 halftime lead.

The lead was still six after three, with neither team doing much scoring. Cumberland Gap led 35-29 as the fourth quarter began.

In the final period, Scott used the free throw line to its advantage, hitting eight of 12 attempts to come from behind and take the lead. Cumberland Gap also got to the line 12 times, missing six of them to allow Scott to go in front.

Morrow had eight rebounds for Scott, while Tucker had seven rebounds and three blocked shots.

For the game, Cumberland Gap connected on just 16 field goal attempts and Scott on just 15, as neither team shot the ball well. The Highlanders were 36 percent from the field, and just two of 13 from 3-point range.

CUMBERLAND GAP (46): Jackson 15, Templin 12, Upton 8, Lake 5, Cole 4.

SCOTT (45): Tucker 11, Ball 8, Morrow 7, Blakley 7, Goodman 4, Dykes 4, Williams 4.