Scoring 83 not enough for HVA, as Hawks No. 4 seed heading to region

BLOUNT COUNTY — Going into Tuesday night’s District 4-4A Boys Basketball Tournament consolation game at Heritage High School, Hardin Valley Academy head coach Shane Wells would have been satisfied with 83 points.

“If we score 83 points we’re gonna win about 98 percent of our games,” he said.

Unfortunately for Wells and the Hawks, HVA’s opponent, William Blount, had a scoring machine in junior forward Matthew Clemmer. Clemmer poured in 39 points in leading the Governors to a 93-83 win Feb. 22.

Hardin Valley will next play at Oak Ridge, champion and No. 1 seed from District 3-4A, Saturday in the first round of the Region 2-4A tournament. William Blount plays at Campbell County Saturday. Both games start at 7 p.m.

“They’re really good,” Wells said of the Governors. “Coach (Kevin) Windle does a great job. We gave up 93 points. They were really good offensively today.

“No. 5 (Clemmer) has hurt us twice this year,” he added. “He’s really good.”

For almost three quarters, the game couldn’t have been tighter, as the teams methodically traded baskets. It was tied at 19 after the first period. At the half, the Hawks led by four, 40-36.

When HVA senior post Dale Henley hit a jumper with 2:08 left in the third, it brought the Hawks to within one, 62-61. A down-to-the-wire finish seemed certain.

But Blount’s offense then kicked into high gear, scoring nine straight to lead by 10, 71-61.

HVA got to within six, 71-65, early in the fourth, but 10 straight by Blount made it a 16-point lead. The Hawks wouldn’t recover.

“We just didn’t defend,” Wells said. “And they did a great job executing. They executed, they shot it well, they played really well.”

“I think we just lost focus,” said Hawks’ senior guard Jaelyn Pannell, who joined HVA senior wing/forward Nick Liakonis on the All-Tournament team. “Started getting away from our principles. But we’ll be back in the region and be better.”

High scoring wise for HVA was senior guard Ty Gentry with 17. Ben Brophy added 14, while Pannell and Liakonis each scored 12.

Windle had mixed reviews of his team’s play.

“Pleased with the offense, but not very pleased with defense,” he said. “Eighty-three points is way too many to give up, especially in a district tournament game. This time of the season you’d think that physically we’d be a little bit more sound.”

Wells remains confident heading into the win-or-go-home regional.

“We’ve got a big one,” he said about the trip to ORHS Saturday. “It’s an elimination game. I feel good about it. We’re playing good basketball. We have to play better defensively.”