Led by 24 points, 11 assists and five steals from state Mr. Basketball finalist Darius Thompson, the undefeated and top-ranked Blackman Blaze ended Ooltewah's basketball season with an 84-58 defeat Monday night in Murfreesboro, Tenn.
The Class AAA sectional win sends the Blaze on to the state tournament next week at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro with a 30-0 record. They lost to eventual state champion Memphis East in the quarterfinals last year.
Ooltewah (19-11) got 16 points from Ben Snider, 13 from Jaqueze Robinson, 11 from Daarun Maston and 10 from Antonio Jackson. The Owls hung tough in the first half with the help of six 3-point baskets, but Blackman used its inside game to take a 44-34 lead into the break.
The Blaze secured command by scoring the first 10 points of the third quarter.
Thompson scored 16 of his points after halftime with college coaches from Tennessee, Auburn and Virginia in attendance, and Ooltewah made only one 3-pointer in the second half.
"Our goal tonight was to hit 12 or 15 3s. We knew we had to," Owls coach Jesse Nayadley told the Daily News Journal of Murfreesboro. "We knew we weren't going to go inside and get a lot of points. That was our goal to do.
"The first half, you take away [their] second shots and we're going in there maybe tied."