DeKalb County 14 13 24 7 -- 58
Howard 16 12 15 18 -- 61
DeKalb County (58) -- Roller 9, Lomas, Sonni Fullilove 24, Braxton Attnip 13, Phillip 4, Bone 8, Patterson.
Howard (61) -- Smith, Shailique Cameron 15, Walton 6, Harris 4, Brandon Walters 20, McCauley 4, Cudjoe Young 12, Brummitt.
3-point goals: DeKalb 7 (Fullilove 4, Roller 2, Attnip); Howard 6 (Cameron 3, Young 2, Walton). Records: Howard 27-5; DeKalb County 30-7.
McMinn Central 10 22 20 22 -- 74
Livingston 10 20 28 27 -- 85
McMinn Central (74) -- Josh Scudder 29, Max Miller 18, Tim Webb 13, Ward 4, Farrar 4, Boyd 2, Kepley 4, Bull, Cook, Harper, Swilley, Baker.
Livingston Academy (85) -- Brock McCoin 29, Bubba Jolley 21, Mason Ramsey 15, Wade Eldridge 11, Hayes 7, Nivens 2, Clark, Gore, Craig.
3-point goals: McMinn Central 9 (Scudder 4, Webb 3, Miller 2); Livingston 9 (Jolley 5, Ramsey 2, Eldridge, Hayes). Other highlights: Livingston 28-37 FTs; McMinn Central 13-20 FTs. Records: Livingston 29-8; McMinn Central 28-5.
With his team facing an eight-point deficit midway through the third quarter, a frustrated Brandon Walters sat helplessly on the Howard bench with three fouls. Unable to wait any longer, Hustlin' Tigers coach Walter McGary turned to Walters and asked his 6-foot-8 all-state senior post if he was ready to put the uniform up for good.
"No, sir," Walters responded.
"Then get in there and do something about it," McGary ordered.
Walters played the final 11 minutes of the game without being called for another foul and sparked the Hustlin' Tigers' fourth-quarter rally that led to a 61-58 victory over DeKalb County in a Class AA boys' basketball sectional game at Howard.
He scored 11 of his team-high 20 points during that time, including eight on offensive rebounds and putbacks to lead Howard (27-5) to the state tournament for the sixth time in McGary's seven seasons. The Tigers will learn who they play at Saturday's bracket drawing.
The state tournament begins March 13 at Middle Tennessee State University.
"I was really upset when I had to sit out for so long, because I wasn't able to help my team at all," Walters said. "I knew I had to play smart when I went back in, but I had a lot of determination to get us going again, too."
Walters went to the bench with 2:26 remaining in the second quarter and Howard ahead by six. Without his presence in the middle, DeKalb County went on a 12-0 run and led the last seven minutes of the third quarter. But Howard began the fourth with a 9-0 run, started by two putbacks from Walters, who finished with 17 rebounds and five blocked shots.
Those two quick baskets by Walters allowed Howard to begin pressing, which forced DeKalb County into turnovers on four straight possessions and helped the Hustlin' Tigers reclaim the lead on LoRenzo McCauley's layup. The lead changed hands three more times before Howard extended its advantage to three, and the teams exchanged scoring on the next three possessions before Chris Walton pushed the lead to the final margin by making both one-and-one free throws with four seconds remaining.
"We practice free throws more than anything during practice, so I just tried to act like nobody was in the gym and make them like I do in practice," Walton said.
DeKalb County (30-7), which had won seven of its last nine games by double digits, was held to two baskets in the fourth quarter. The visitors had a shot at the buzzer, but Ethan Roller's 3-pointer fell short.
Sonni Fullilove scored 24 points with four 3s for the Smithville team.
"We've been tested these last two games," said McGary, referring to a one-point win over McMinn Central in the region final as well. "I think that should help us in the state tournament next week. But we've still got work to do."
n Livingston Academy 85, McMinn Central 74: At Livingston, the host Wildcats managed to get a six-point lead by the end of the third quarter and controlled the fourth by hitting 19 of 21 free throws. The Chargers held Mr. Basketball finalist Mason Ramsey to 15 points, but point guard Brock McCoin scored 29 and Bubba Jolley added 21 with five 3-point baskets.
Josh Scudder scored 29 points with four 3s in the Chargers' seaason finale, while Max Miller and Tim Webb added 18 and 13.