Saying his team played “like our heads were cut off” early on against rival Farragut in the District 4-4A tourney semifinals Saturday, Andrew Arendt’s team made a major defensive adjustment — holding the No. 2 seeded Ads without a field goal for eight minutes down the stretch — while key minutes from a sophomore post helped make for a happy ending.
Overcoming a 15-point first-quarter deficit while finding hot shooting hands down the stretch, No. 3 tourney seed Hardin Valley Academy (23-8) rallied for a 56-48 win at FHS’s Lynn E. Sexton Gymnasium/Donald Dodgen Court Feb. 18. The Ads fell to 18-12.
“Our defense in the fourth quarter was how we were going to try and play the whole game,” Arendt said, as Farragut’s only fourth quarter field goal came in the last few seconds with HVA leading 55-45.
“Getting out and pressuring them and making them go by us and make tough two’s was the gameplan.”
However, as the Admirals went on a 20-1 run to lead 20-5 late in the first quarter, “We didn’t pressure the ball at all. We didn’t know our defensive assignments,” Arendt said.
“... And we tried to change defenses for the first time this year (from man-to-man to zone). That wasn’t very smart on my part,” he added.
Making things worse, Hawks senior standout post Jack Smith got in foul trouble, picking up foul No. four midway into the third quarter.
“Jack’s our leader, the guy that we play through,” Arendt said.
“I just knew my teammates would pick me up,” said Smith, who didn’t foul out, ending with a team-high 14 points. “We were up when I came back in, and that’s all we needed.”
While Smith missed about seven minutes of game-time from mid-third to mid-fourth quarter, Hawks sophomore back-up post Will Fellers won Arendt’s praise.
“He changed the game with his physicality, his screen-setting, his rebounding and his attitude,” said the coach, though noting Fellers only had been playing at the varsity level for “a month-and-a-half, two months.”
“Coach said that any chance I get, I’ve got to give it my all,” Fellers said. “It feels real good.”
Ben Brophy, sophomore wing, scored 13 for the winners, while senior wing Hakeem Rashid added 10 and guards A.J. Gray and Nic Hodge six points each.
“Offensively, we started attacking in the second half,” the HVA coach said. “In the first half we were just settling for threes.”
Title try vs. William Blount
The Hawks earned a 4-4A tourney title shot against state-ranked and top-seed William Blount Tuesday, Feb. 21 (after deadline) at FHS. These teams split during the regular season, with each winning on the other’s home court.
Dallas Carbaugh, Farragut senior standout post, was the only Admiral in double figures scoring, ending with 15 — 11 in the first half, as FHS led 32-22 at the break and 43-39 after three frames.
“We got away from what we do a little bit,” FHS head coach J P Burris said. “That’s on me. I need to have better control of our guys to put them in a better position.
“We’re really big on sharing the ball and getting downhill (to the basket). ... We had a size advantage, but we didn’t go inside.”
Dominic Vanacker, Ads All-District sophomore wing, scored nine, while junior wing Aiden Vanacker and freshman point guard Parker Lane each added eight points.
The Ads looked for a third straight win this season versus rival Bearden, No. 5 seed, in the consolation game Tuesday, Feb. 21 (after deadline).
Having beaten the Admirals twice at FHS this season, Smith simply said, “it’s fun, man, it’s fun.”