Throughout last season the Farragut High School boys basketball team lost more than its share of close games.
But the Admirals were able to come up on the winning side of a nailbiter against Alcoa, with senior Chris Dalton the hero.
Dalton’s free throw with two seconds remaining, after his steal and three-quarters-court drive to the basket to draw a foul, provided the winning margin.
Farragut’s 74-73 victory over the Tornadoes came in front of a spirited crowd Thursday, Nov. 16, in FHS’s Lynn E. Sexton Gymnasium.
The Admirals darted out to an early lead and looked poised to blow past the Tornadoes with a 15-point advantage early in the final quarter.
Alcoa, however, had other ideas. The Tornadoes never led after halftime but tied the game at 73-73 when Dante Harrison knocked down two foul shots with 1 minute, 45 seconds left.
Tied 73-all, Alcoa [1-1 after the loss] ran more than a minute off the clock, stalling for the final shot, before Dalton made a steal in the lane and was fouled finishing a fast-break lay-up attempt. He was awarded two free throws.
He missed the first but buried the second to give the Ads [2-0 after the win] the one-point lead.
Farragut would prevail when Alcoa’s last-second desperation shot, from three-quarters-court, went awry. Admirals players celebrated with their fans.
“This feels great,” Dalton said. “We were a little sloppy at the end of the game but this is just a great feeling.”
Farragut had a 62-47 lead after three quarters before the Tornadoes made their comeback.
Alcoa forced a handful of turnovers in the fourth quarter to help spark the rally.
“I told them after the game that as long as they came in here ready to work, that I would be fine with everything,” Jon Higgins, first-year FHS head coach, said. “They’re excited and I’m excited for them.
“They came in here and they worked hard and I’m happy for all of them because they’ve all improved and they’ve all gotten so much better,” he added. “But I also told them that we still have a lot to work on and we still have plenty of room to grow.”
Farragut had four players post double figures in scoring.
Nick Stedham led the way with 21 points. Center Caleb Thompson, one of the county’s most improved players in the early-going this season, added 18. Dalton, who scored 15, was hot after halftime — burying four consecutive 3-point shots to open the third quarter.
Tharrin Shuler finished with 10 points for FHS, which opened the 2017-18 campaign at home earlier last week with a lopsided win versus White County Tuesday, Nov. 14.
Harrison led all scorers with 26 points, including 12 in the final stanza, where he was a perfect 10-for-10 from the free throw line. Alcoa’s Mekhi Carter added 25 and buried six 3-pointers.