ENGLEWOOD, Tenn. — As the days passed after McMinn Central's District 5-AA boys' championship win, the local conversation shifted to how the Chargers would fare in the Region 3-AA tournament.
Prior to Saturday, no District 5-A boys' team had won a region quarterfinal game since the reclassification in 2009.
The chip grew on the shoulders of the Chargers, and Saturday night they unleashed their frustration on Tyner.
The Chargers led from wire to wire, cruising to an 82-49 victory. A balanced attack was only part of the story, as they completely dominated the Rams to advance to Tuesday's semifinals at McMinn County High School, where they will face Brainerd.
Max Miller led the Chargers (27-3) with 26 points and 11 rebounds, while Tim Webb and Josh Scudder each scored 17 points and Bradley Ward had 14 points and 12 rebounds.
"We knew what we had to do and got it done," Miller said. "We knew we'd have to play hard because Chattanooga teams are hard, but once we got a couple of buckets we came together and played well.
"It's probably our biggest win of the year because it's a steppingstone to advance in the region tournament."
If there were any jitters for the Chargers, they were gone pretty quickly. They held a 10-point lead six minutes into the game and led 18-10 after a quarter. Every run Tyner made was answered by the Chargers, as the Rams cut the lead to two in the second quarter only to watch McMinn Central end the half on an 18-6 spurt.
Tyner (18-9) battled back in the third quarter, trimming the deficit to 40-31 on a tip by Alex Watkins, but the hosts responded again, pushing the lead back to 16 after three quarters, then blowing the game wide open with a 26-5 run to end the game.
"I told the guys before we took the floor that they should have a chip on their shoulders," McMinn Central coach Doug Armstrong said. "I think they do, and it's great the guys played that way. We've been questioned in some ways and I don't know how much we proved tonight, but we're not out to prove anything.
"We're confident we're a good basketball team and we're confident we can go to McMinn on Tuesday and play with confidence and heart."
Sadik Spence and Alex Watkins each had 13 points to lead Tyner. Watkins also had 16 rebounds and five blocks.
"We knew coming into an environment like this that Coach [Armstrong] would have them ready," Tyner coach Gerald Harris said. "They played stronger and harder than we did, and we missed some shots we normally make and didn't play good defense.
"We didn't get the job done tonight, but McMinn Central played well. They played like their record."