HARDIN VALLEY --- Knoxville Catholic High School boys basketball head coach Mike Hutchens and his team are no strangers to close games. The Irish won another nailbiter Friday night, Dec. 15.
“We’ve won seven ballgames this year and five of those seven wins have been by single digits,” Hutchens said after the Irish notched a 60-51 District 4-AAA victory at Hardin Valley Academy. “This was just another game that we had to grind out. But give credit to Hardin Valley.They really played us tough.”
Catholic (7-1 overall, 5-1 in the district starting the week) extended its winning streak to seven games with the victory over the Hawks (5-6. 1-5).
The Irish dropped a hard-fought 72-61 decision to the Maryville Rebels in Blount County Nov. 21. Catholic hasn’t lost since.
With KCHS football players who also are key hoops players still competing in the playoffs, “In our first game against Maryville, we had Brock Jancek and the B-team,” Hutchens said.
The Hawks actually held a 16-15 lead after the first quarter before an offensive power outage, scoring just three points in the second quarter.
“We came out and played pretty well early but then, we go through that second quarter where we scored just three points,” HVA head coach Shane Chambers said.
“We played pretty good defense for about three-and-a-half quarters,” he added. “But we just couldn’t score in the second quarter.”
The Hawks, who trailed 26-19 at halftime, continued to defend after the break. Tristen Waite scored all 12 of his points in the third quarter and buried two long-range jumpers. One gave the Hawks a 39-37 lead with two minutes left in the frame.
“We knew that they only played just six or seven guys and we wanted to run down the floor,” Waite said. “When we did that, I was able to get open and get shots.”
The Hawks had a 41-39 lead headed into the final quarter.
But Catholic would retake the lead as Jancek and Jackson Rowan combined to score six unanswered points to give the Irish a 45-43 lead with 5:47 left.
Catholic hit the offensive boards hard late, closing the game with a 17-8 run.
“We had some points where we really struggled, but we came out in the second half ready to play,” said Jancek, who scored 18 points to share high scoring honors with teammate and senior guard Jack Sompayrac. Jack Jancek, Brock’s younger brother, had 13.
Waite’s 12 points paced the Hawks, who also got 10 points from Gavin Eidemiller.