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By BRIAN LANGLEY
Morgan County News
HARRIMAN—Sunbright head basketball coach Marty Maxfield got his high school coaching career off to a great start with an exciting 61-58 win over Harriman last Tuesday night in a TSSAA Hall-of-Fame game.
Kathryn Johnson’s coaching debut didn’t have the same outcome, but a lot of positives in her Lady Tigers’ 62-41 loss to the Lady Blue Devils.
Sunbright senior Randy Sexton fired in a game-high 26 points to lead his team to a 61-58 win over a talented Harriman team at Richard Pickell Gymnasium.
Harriman ended Sunbright’s season last year in the first round of the regionals, and the Tigers only returned two key players last year’s 15-win team.
“I was proud of the boys tonight. They needed to play good even if it hadn’t been a win. We needed some motivation after coming back from the Jellico scrimmage the other day. I seen a lot of growing up tonight. I’m always proud of them when they play their heart out, win or lose,” said Maxfield following his first career win as a high school coach.
The Tigers (1-0) used a 37-29 advantage on the backboards to help them secure the win on the road against a Harriman team that is expected to be near the top in District 3-A.
“They (Harriman) will be there in the end when it comes tournament, because they are a very, well coached team and they are a very athletic team. They got a lot of talent and a lot of potential so there going to be there when the tournaments start,” offered Maxfield.
The two teams were even at 11 after one quarter with Sexton tossing in seven points.
The Tigers held a 14-11 edge in the second quarter to take a 25-22 lead into the break. Garrett Starkey and Sexton combined for 11 of the 14 points to help Sunbright take the half-time lead.
During the third quarter, Sunbright’s Matthew Higgins dropped in a pair of three-pointers to help his team to a 39-37 lead with one quarter left.
The two teams got involved in a shoot-out during the final quarter as they combined for 43 points with the tigers holding a 22-21 edge for a 61-58 victory. Sunbright survived a failed three-point attempt at the buzzer by Harriman’s Darius Gallaher to capture the win.
During the fourth quarter, Sexton and Starkey combined for 15 points to lead the Tigers, while Harriman’s Shumaikee Phillips scored seven points to give his team a chance.
“Any win is always good. It is good to open up like this and it’s good to see the boys play good. We can’t get satisfied because we just won one game. We have to stay hungry every day, every week,” said Maxfield.
Sunbright won the game despite only hitting 11 of 19 free throws.
The Tigers were led by the scoring trio of Randy Sexton (26 points, 7 steals), Garrett Starkey (17 points, 17 rebounds, 3 steals, 3 blocks) and Matthew Higgins (13 points, 9 assists, 7 rebounds). Tyler Chambers added 3 points and 6 rebounds.
“It was a total team effort. Everybody stepped up tonight. Garrett (Starkey) was a big step up inside. His post presence was very good for us. Matthew (Higgins) being the floor general taking care of the ball for us on offense and also playing good defense for us,” said Maxfield.
Harriman was paced by Shumaikee Phillips (13 points, 6 rebounds, 5 steals) and Darius Gallaher (13 points, 3 assists, 3 steals). Dimitrique Inman added 8 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals.
TIGERS (61): Randy Sexton 26, Garrett Starkey 17, Matthew Higgins 13, Tyler Chambers 3 and William Carroll 2. Three-pointers (6)—Sexton 3 and Higgins 3.
The Lady Tigers, playing their first game under Kathryn Johnson, played well for three quarters, but ran out of gas in a 62-41 loss to Jim Cordell’s Harriman team.
“We didn’t know what to expect. We really didn’t have a chance to scout them (Harriman) or anything. So having three girls that are like five-eleven or however tall they are was a pretty tough challenge,” offered Johnson.
Only trailing 40-33 going into the final quarter, Sunbright was outscored 22-8 in the final eight minutes. The lack of depth turned out to be the difference in the Lady Tigers getting beat in the last quarter.
Harriman used a decisive 61-37 edge in rebounding to pull out the 21-point win at home.
Harriman led 14-13 after one quarter and was up 31-23 at the half.
Sunbright freshman Robbiccaa Williams scored 10 points in the first half, but went down hard on a collision with 6:31 left in the third period and her team only down 31-27.
“Rob (Williams) going out really hurt us. It hurt our transition game,” said Johnson.
The Lady Blue Devils then outscored Sunbright 9-4 the rest of the quarter to take a 40-33 advantage into the final period.
Harriman then put the game away with a 22-8 rush in the fourth quarter to pull away for a 62-41 win.
“I’m so proud of them. They gave it their all. We got to keep our composure toward the end of the quarters and the half. That is just what we got to do to get better so we’re going to work on it,” said Johnson.
Harriman was led by the scoring trio of Moriah Anderson (20 points, 5 rebounds), Kiersten Douglass (11 points, 16 rebounds) and Shantel Boyd (10 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals).
Sunbright was led by the 1-2 backcourt punch of Sunny Lavender (10 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists, 5 steals) and Robbiccaa Williams (10 points, 3 boards). Hannah McWhorter (7 points), Angelliccaa Williams (6 points, 7 rebounds) and Jessika Dyer (6 points, 6 rebounds) helped pace the Lady Tigers.
“I think Sunny (Lavender) kept us in line. She is our point guard and that is her job,” said Johnson.
Sunbright is scheduled to play at Byrdstown this Friday and Saturday in the Pickett County Thanksgiving Classic. They will play at Rockwood next Tuesday before they return home to take on Oliver Springs in their first District 4-A game of the 2008-09 basketball season.
LADY TIGERS (41): Sunny Lavender 10, Robbiccaa Williams 10, Hannah McWhorter 7, Jessika Dyer 6, Angelliccaa Williams 6 and Tiffany Eldridge 2. Three-pointers (3)—Lavender 1, A. Williams 1 and McWhorter 1.