published Friday, March 15th, 2013

Howard's Hustlin' Tigers in state semifinals

  • photo
    Howards Cudjoe Young (24) drives the ball against East Nashville during the 4th period Friday in Murfreesboro.
    Photo by Connor Choate /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Class AA State Quarterfinals

HOWARD 59, EAST NASHVILLE 43

Howard 15 13 14 17 -- 59

East Nashville 8 11 18 6 -- 43

Howard (59) - Smith 2, Cameron 5, Walton 7, Harris 8, Brandon Walters 19, Brummitt 2, Cudjoe Young 16.

East Nashville (43) -- Upton 2, Bobby Scott 12, Smith, Terry Holt 15, Russell 2, Vaughn, C. Scott 5, McGhee 2, Wells, City 5, Booker, Rucker, Brown, Leer.

3-point goals: Howard 2 (Cameron, Walton); East Nashville 3 (Holt 2, City). Other highlights: Chris Walton 12 r; Walters 14 r; Young 7 r (H); Scott 9 r (E). Records: Howard 28-5; East Nashville 27-8.

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — Before their Class AA state quarterfinal game Thursday, the Howard boys' basketball players sat at the very top of the bleachers — some with headphones on, others relaxing and watching the game before theirs.

After the game, they went back to the same spot at the top of the bleachers, watching the contest between Jackson South Side and Knoxville Fulton. This time they were scouting their next opponent.

The Hustlin' Tigers took care of business against East Nashville, winning 59-43 to advance to tonight's 7:45 EDT semifinal. They will face South Side, which defeated Fulton 53-39.

"It feels good to get the win," said Howard guard Cudjoe Young, who had 16 points and seven rebounds. "I feel like when we played our ball, we were on top. When we started turning the ball over was when they got back in it.

"Later in the game, we started capitalizing on stops and playing Hustlin' Tiger ball."

Brandon Walters led the Tigers with 19 points and 14 rebounds. He did a little bit of everything Thursday, adding two steals and two blocks, diving into the bench for a loose ball and even getting into a brief shouting match with coach Walter McGary late in the game.

"He really wanted this game," McGary said. "He's been like that all year, and I have no problem with it. If I've got kids that see eye-to-eye with me about everything, there's something wrong. I give them liberty to express themselves."

McGary added that, "All I did was this," clenching his hands for a "togetherness" symbol that's been indicative of the team this year.

The Hustlin' Tigers (28-5) took a 28-19 lead into halftime, but the Eagles went with a smaller lineup in the third quarter and pressured full court. They went on a 14-2 run to take a 33-31 lead at the 4:35 mark, prompting McGary to use a four-guard lineup the rest of the way -- something he said he had been experimenting with late in the year.

Although they had seven third-quarter turnovers, the Hustlin' Tigers went into the fourth quarter with a 42-37 lead. They then put the game away by not allowing a field goal in the final 5:44, ending the game on a 13-2 spurt.

"We got this win, but we've got to keep playing," Walters said. "We can play a better game than we did today."

Howard out-rebounded the Eagles 49-26, as Chris Walton added 12 rebounds to his seven points. The Hustlin' Tigers held East Nashville (27-8), who was led by Terry Holt's 15 points, to 16-for-57 shooting (28.1 percent) -- the Eagles' worst shooting game of the year.

"We got the monkey off our back by getting this first win, but we don't feel like we played anywhere near our best game," McGary said. "It's out there, but I hope it doesn't come until our third game.

"Tomorrow will be a test, but I think my guys are up to the test."

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