Note: This story was last updated at 12:05 p.m. March 5.
The Oak Ridge Wildcats will play in their second consecutive state tournament after a 62-55 win over Dobyns-Bennett in Kingsport on Tuesday.
It was another comeback victory for the Wildcats, who had been down 27-35 at halftime.
“We won the game in the second half defensively,” Oak Ridge Coach Aaron Green said.
He said senior Kevin Steen, who led the Wildcats with 16 points, sparked the team with 10 points in the third quarter, including a two-handed dunk off a rebound.
“He outscored Dobyns-Bennett by himself in the third quarter,” Green said of Steen, a forward who helped give the Wildcats a 51-43 lead at the end of three.
Senior Seth Davis, who was on crutches with an injury just a few weeks ago, also provided a crucial spark in the Class AAA sectional game, one of eight across Tennessee this week. Also a forward, Davis finished with 12 points, including two big three-point shots in the second half, including one that broke a fourth-quarter 55-55 tie with less than three minutes to play.
Seniors Jaylin Henderson and Isaac Merian also each scored 12 on Tuesday.
Oak Ridge (30-7) will play in one of four Class AAA quarterfinal games in Murfreesboro on Wednesday, March 12.
Before Tuesday, the Dobyns-Bennett Indians (21-9) had won their last 16 games as well as a Region 1 championship.
Top scorers for Dobyns-Bennett were Makale Foreman with 20 points and Paul Gadson with 16. Tyleke Love, who fouled out halfway through the fourth quarter, scored nine.
The Wildcats and Indians last played Dec. 21 in the Cleveland Shootout in Cleveland, and Oak Ridge also won that game, 73-63.
Green said Oak Ridge hadn’t won a substate or sectional game on the road since 1979. So, Tuesday night’s victory was a “significant win,” he said.
In addition, the coach said, he doesn’t think Dobyns-Bennett had lost a home substate or sectional game.
The Division I boys’ state championship games will be played from Wednesday through Saturday next week at the Murphy Center at Middle Tennessee State University. Oak Ridge will learn who it plays and when in a drawing at 11 a.m. Saturday.
Green said there will be a pep bus going to the state tournament in Murfreesboro next week, and students who want a ride should contact Donna Hatmaker in the High School Media Center.
In another sectional game Tuesday, the Powell Panthers, who beat Oak Ridge in the Region 2-AAA championship game on Thursday, lost to Jefferson County 55-39 at Powell.
Note: This story was updated at noon March 5 to include new scoring totals and information about the state tournament next week, including the student pep bus.
See the Kingsport Times News story on the game here.