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Wise Central shines at Arby’s Classic

Tanner Cook • Jan 1, 2020 at 8:15 PM

As fans shut the cover of their programs from the 37th Arby’s Classic, they can take away a better understanding of the local basketball scene.

Spectators were treated to quite a contest in the title game between two nationally ranked teams. No. 16 Mountain Brook took down No. 19 North Mecklenburg 77-66 after trailing at halftime and held Georgia Tech signee Tristan Maxwell to just four points in the second half.

The Spartans became the first Alabama team to win the prestigious holiday event.

The 3-pointer to close out the first half proved to be a huge momentum boost for the Spartans and propelled them to an outstanding second half.

The local teams that participated were Hampton, Tennessee High, Wise Central, Dobyns-Bennett and Elizabethton. Some teams had better fortunes than others, but none of the teams placed this year.

WISE CENTRAL

The Warriors showed a lot of resiliency after falling on the second day of the tournament to a solid Fayetteville, Arkansas, team.

Central won close game after close game, and it was behind the scoring duo of seniors Elijah Hayes and Isaiah McAmis. Hayes especially had a breakout tournament and showed all of Southwest Virginia he is tough on both the defensive and offensive end.

T.J. McAmis’ squad has everything it takes to win the Mountain 7 District this season, but the Gate City Blue Devils will have something to say about that.

The rivalry between Central and Gate City is heated to say the least, and the two could end up playing six times this season like J.I. Burton and Eastside did last season.

The road to Richmond will likely run through Region D this season since Radford is a bit down. But John Marshall — a former Class 5 team no more than five years ago — will most likely await their victims from the western side of the state at the Siegel Center.

If Central wants to end Gate City’s long reign over the district, the defense will have to play lights out and either Brody Allison or Jordan Bishop will have to step up to make big buckets in key moments.

DOBYNS-BENNETT

The Indians surprised nearly everyone in Viking Hall pulling off a big win over Georgia’s Southwest DeKalb on the opening day.

Then the Indians were pretty much run off the floor after the first quarter by a hard-nosed Mentor, Ohio, team and lost by 21.

In the fifth-place elimination game, the Tribe snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, falling 58-57 to The Webb School. The meltdown came with less than 15 seconds left and up two points when all they had to do was hold on defense and not throw away the in-bounds pass.

If anything, that game teaches Chris Poore’s young team to play the entire 32 minutes. Other than a few stretches in the Mentor game, D-B played outstanding defense and was in every game. Abiah Releford played well and Zane Whitson came up big in some spots, but the true shining light was freshman Brady Stump.

Stump showed out against Webb, scoring eight points — all in the second half — and did not commit a single turnover. He might have earned himself a lot of playing time in the near future.

The Indians can be the second-best team in the Big 7 Conference behind Science Hill, but they still need to find a true rhythm on offense, and sophomore Malachi Hale could be a good second option to Releford.

TENNESSEE HIGH

Roby Witcher’s squad played well enough to win the second game against Wise Central but came up just short in an up-tempo game.

The Vikings have enough firepower to be one of the top three teams in the Big 7, especially when Blake Fauver, Nolan Wishon and Cole McBrayer are all hitting shots.

Wishon is not only a good defensive presence, but he showed his outstanding passing ability in the tournament. He was one assist shy of the elusive triple-double in the Central game.

Tennessee High also showed it can win close games, coming out on the good end in the consolation game against a hard-charging Hampton team.

HAMPTON

The Bulldogs had some highs and lows in their return to the Arby’s Classic for the first time in more than five years. Jordan Bentley played well under the bright lights in all three games.

Matt Hughes had some moments, but Ned Smith needs him and Rocky Croy to step up more when it comes to playing the top teams like University High in the Watauga Valley Conference.

The defense played well for Hampton in stretches, but the Bulldogs had a couple of stretches in the Tennessee High game where the shots were not falling.

The good thing for Hampton is it will not see teams like Concord First Assembly down the road in the postseason. Seeing that length, size and skill can only help them.

ELIZABETHTON

This might have been one of the tougher weekends of the season so far for the Cyclones. Both losses were by more than 20 points, and there didn’t seem to be any true team chemistry.

Some of that is probably due to Bryson Rollins and Parker Hughes still being out with injury for Lucas Honeycutt’s squad. The players on the bench are on varsity for a reason and need to compete better.

Nico Ashley played well in stretches, but he needs to do more in helping along the players with less playing experience.

Elizabethton has the talent and skill to be competing in the Three Rivers Conference, but this tournament needs to serve as a wake-up call. Sullivan South is quickly becoming one of the best teams in not only the Three Rivers but Northeast Tennessee as a whole.

If the Cyclones aren’t careful and can’t turn it around in a hurry, they will surely fall even further behind the Rebels.