Oak Ridge finished second in Region 2-AAA after a 65-51 loss to Bearden in the championship game on Thursday, and the Wildcats’ season ended with a 62-57 loss at Sevier County in a sectional game on Monday.
Oak Ridge (26-7) trailed in both games from start to finish, although the Wildcats narrowed the Smoky Bears’ lead to one point in the final minute before Sevier County (25-6) pulled away on free throws in the Class AAA sectional game on Monday.
The sectional games determine which teams go to the state basketball tournaments at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro this month. The winners of the sectional games advance to the state tournaments, and the season is over for the teams that lose.
It’s Sevier County’s first trip to the state tournament since 1991. The Smoky Bears are one of only eight teams in Division I, Class AAA, to play in the state tournament. Bearden is another.
Oak Ridge last went to the state tournament in 2017, when the Wildcats were eliminated 63-60 by Memphis East in a semifinal game.
Oak Ridge senior Marcus Smith, the team’s scoring leader, led the Wildcats with a game-high 23 points at Sevier County on Monday.
The Smoky Bears were led by junior Marvin Castro, who scored 13 points and made the final two free throws to seal the win.
Sevier County junior Wes Maples added 12 points for the Smoky Bears, sophomore Cam Burden and junior Camden McElhaney each scored 11, and senior Jake Agee had nine, according to preliminary statistics by Mark Haste, who is part of the Oak Ridge Wildcats and Prepradio.com broadcast crew.
Burden was 9-of-12 from the free throw line, and McElhaney made three three-point shots in the first quarter, when Sevier County took a 20-8 lead less than six minutes into the game.
Besides Smith, the only other player in double digits for Oak Ridge was senior Herbert Booker, who scored 10 points, according to Haste’s stats.
Oak Ridge had foul trouble, with three players fouling out with five fouls, including senior JaVonte Thomas, the team’s second-leading scorer, and two others (Smith and Booker) playing with four fouls each.
Sevier County went to the free throw line more than twice as often as Oak Ridge, and the Smoky Bears were 27-of-36, compared to 11-of-14 for the Wildcats, Haste said.
Oak Ridge was 17-of-29 from two-point range, compared to 10-of-22 for Sevier County, but the Smoky Bears shot 5-of-12 from beyond the three-point line, compared to 4-of-19 for the Wildcats, Haste said.
Sevier County led at the end of all four quarters: 22-13, 36-25, 45-38, and 62-57.
While Sevier County, the Region 1 champion, advanced to the state tournament with the win over Oak Ridge, Bearden (29-5), the Region 2 champion, advanced with a 46-40 win over Dobyns-Bennett (30-5), the Region 1 runner-up, in another Class AAA sectional on Monday.
Sevier County beat Dobyns-Bennett 56-55 in the Region 1-AAA championship at Daniel Boone in upper East Tennessee on Thursday to host Oak Ridge in the sectional game on Monday.
Oak Ridge trailed the entire game against Bearden in the Region 2-AAA championship at Wildcat Arena on Thursday. The Bulldogs led 18-5 at the end of the first quarter, 31-25 at halftime, and 50-40 at the end of the third quarter.
With the win at Oak Ridge on Thursday, Bearden has won the Region 2-AAA championship two years in a row. After winning the regional championship last year, the Bulldogs made it to the Class AAA tournament semifinals, where they were eliminated in a 72-60 loss to Memphis East. The year before, in 2017, Bearden made it to the state tournament quarterfinals, where they lost to Independence 63-48.
Oak Ridge last won the Region 2-AAA championship in 2017.
Last year, the Wildcats were eliminated in the regional tournament with a 71-57 loss at Bearden in the semifinals.
Oak Ridge was the District 3-AAA champion this year, and Bearden was the District 4 champion.
Oak Ridge was led by Smith with 18 points against Bearden on Thursday. Thomas scored 10, and senior Joe Kesterson added nine, all on three-point shots.
Bearden was led by senior Shamarcus Brown with a game-high 20 points. Senior Ques Glover scored 16, Trent Stephney had 10, Roman Robinson had nine, and Drew Pember had eight.
Pember, who is 6-foot-10 and has signed to play at the University of Tennessee, had at least 10 rebounds for Bearden, two dunks, and at least seven blocks, sometimes on back-to-back shots by Oak Ridge. Brown had at least eight rebounds, and Stephney had at least five.
Oak Ridge was 5-of-6 from the free throw line, and Bearden was 18-of-20.
This was Oak Ridge’s sixth time to play in the Region 2-AAA championship game in the past seven years, with three wins and three losses, according to records kept by CoachT.com.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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