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Panthers turn back Warriors on final day of Arby's

Tanner Cook • Dec 31, 2019 at 7:47 PM

BRISTOL, Tenn. — Five games in six days can weigh heavily on any basketball team.

In the sixth-place game of the 37th Arby’s Classic, Wise Central fought back from a late eight-point deficit to pull within three but fell to Georgia’s Southwest DeKalb 56-49 on Tuesday at Viking Hall.

One momentum-shifting play Central coach T.J. McAmis pointed to came with the Warriors down by just four, 51-47, when they failed to box out on a missed free throw. The Panthers got the ball and scored on the next possession, putting the game out of reach.

“There was a little fatigue, but those guys that we played today were really athletic,” McAmis said. “I hope that this pays off when the conference play starts. Having Elijah (Hayes) in foul trouble early really hurt us. He didn’t shoot well tonight and maybe played some harder defense that led to some fouls trying to lead the team back.

“The message was to keep playing, but the one thing that we didn’t do was box out on the free throw. I’ve seen more games won and lost on not a free throw, but that rebound. They just went in there and got it and that’s what broke us.”

Hayes, a senior guard, had a brilliant tournament up until Tuesday when he found early foul trouble. He finished with nine points and 10 rebounds.

Isaiah McAmis netted a game-high 27 points for Central but shot 8-for-22 from the field, including 4-for-13 from the perimeter. For the game, the Warriors shot just 32.7% from the field and 47.6% from the free-throw line.

Southwest DeKalb had a hand in that. The Panthers seemingly had a hand in the face of nearly every Central player who took a shot, and the biggest shot-altering presence was 6-foot-10 Mohamad Diallo, who totaled three blocks.

Ohio State signee Eugene Brown III led the Panthers with 14 points and 11 rebounds, helping the team complete its rebound from its 48-45 opening loss to Dobyns-Bennett.

“In the first game, we didn’t come out focused or prepared and underestimated our competition,” Brown said. “We wanted to finish out with three wins in a good tournament with good teams.”

In the third quarter, Brown went up for a beautiful alley-oop dunk on a backdoor cut that drew a lot of “oohs and ahhs” from the crowd.

“That play is something we like to run and I’ve never seen anyone stop it,” he noted. “It’s something that we run to give us a boost.”

Kusamae Draper scored 12 for Southwest DeKalb.

The Panthers, from just outside of Atlanta, are traveling to another tournament that starts Thursday in New Orleans. Coach Eugene Brown Jr. says such a gauntlet prepares his team for a tough postseason.

“This has been a great tournament for us and we got to do some bonding on the off day,” the coach noted. “We want to use this tournament and the one in New Orleans to help propel us into the second half of our season.”

McAmis, Hayes and Brown made the all-tournament team.

Concord First Assembly (N.C.) 93, Mentor (Ohio) 48

A sluggish second quarter cost Mentor in the third-place game. The Cardinals, who led 23-21 after one quarter, scored just five points in the second. The Eagles went on a 20-5 run and blew open the game before the half was over.

Mentor shot 4-for-14 from the perimeter in the first half against a pesky 2-3 zone.

Concord’s Trae Benham was again a force from long distance, knocking down seven 3-pointers and totaling 27 points. Benham made 17 shots from beyond the arc over five tournament games, two shy of the record, in his team’s Arby’s debut.

Concord also made the most of its size advantage and won the rebound battle 36-21. Big man Garret Hien, a 6-9 Furman commit, finished with 14 points.

Luke Floriea led the Cardinals with 17 points. In four Arby’s appearances, Mentor has finished runner-up twice, third and fourth.

Webb School 60, Fayetteville (Ark.) 44

Down by eight at halftime in the fifth-place game, Fayetteville made a big run to go up 41-39 with a little over three minutes left in the third quarter. However, Webb School finished the period on a 9-0 flurry and took a 48-41 lead into the fourth.

“The Feet” stomped the Bulldogs in the final eight minutes, outscoring them 12-3. A diamond-and-1 press frustrated Fayetteville continually and when the Bulldogs got off a shot, it was contested.

Alex Garrett had a game-high 17 points to pace Webb, and J.J. Platt had 12.

Trey Releford, with 10 points, was the only player in double figures for Fayetteville.

Tennessee High 58, Hampton 53

In the consolation game, the Bulldogs had a five-point lead at halftime following a Jordan Bentley 3-pointer off a steal. But the Vikings’ size — in particular that of the 6-foot-7 Nolan Wishon — got to Hampton.

Wishon finished with 14 rebounds, six points, five blocks and five assists. Cole McBrayer led Tennessee High with 15 points, Blake Fauver had 14 and Mchale Bright added 10.

Bentley had a game-high 19 points and Matt Hughes scored 11 for Hampton.

Fun Factory 3-Point Shootout

North Mecklenburg swept the top two spots in the 3-point contest. Cameron Gates won with 19 points and Shamman Artis was the runner-up with 18.