Howard edges Pioneers, ties for first

Howard edges Pioneers, ties for first

February 8th, 2012 by Kelley Smiddie in Sports - Preps

Howard basketball player RodDarius Martin, left, lays the ball up past East Ridge High School's Eddie Hitchcock during a game at Howard on Tuesday night.

Howard basketball player RodDarius Martin, left, lays the...

Photo by Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.

When high school District 6-A holds its tournament-seeding meeting a week from today, the boys' coaches might just as well be drawing team names out of a hat.

Howard defeated East Ridge 57-53 on Tuesday at Howard, leaving those teams in a tie for first place.

Tyner, which won 65-58 at East Hamilton on Tuesday, also is tied for first in the eight-team league. And no matter what happens in each team's last game, the regular-season champion -- or co-champions, or multiple co-champions -- will have lost at least three district games.

"We've got to win on Friday to stay in the tiebreaker for first," East Ridge coach Jon Goddard said of his team's remaining game at East Hamilton. "That's our first priority. There's only two or three possessions a game difference between the top four teams and the bottom four. All we've done so far is earn a home game."

The top four seeded teams will host first-round games. Brainerd, 8-4 in the district with a game remaining Friday against Hixson, will host the rest of the tournament.

"It's wide open," Howard coach Walter McGary said. "I like our chances if we come play."

His Hustlin' Tigers made the plays Tuesday down the stretch, primarily on the defensive end. Cudjoe Young was fouled on a defensive rebound with Howard (14-7, 10-3) clinging to a one-point lead with 16.6 seconds left. Although he missed the double-bonus free throws, he made a key steal 10 seconds later and sealed the victory with a free throw then.

After not scoring in the first quarter, Rashad Brummitt led the Tigers with 14 points. Brandon Walters had 11. Anthony Smith, who made two free throws with 11.6 seconds to play, also scored 11.

"The big thing down the stretch is we hustled," McGary said. "We were determined not to lose. We made a couple of mistakes at the end, losing the ball a couple of times, but we kept hustling."

Eddie Hitchcock topped East Ridge (18-9, 10-3) with 19 points -- 16 in the second half. Greg Besley added 12 and Chris Green contributed 10.