District 7-AA tournament at Signal Mountain
SIGNAL MOUNTAIN 49, CHATTANOOGA CHRISTIAN 45
Chatt. Christian 14 11 4 16 -- 45
Signal Mountain 5 11 14 19 -- 49
Chattanooga Christian (45) -- Matthews, A. Jones 6, Card 5, Ryan Rhodes 17, Josh Fikkert 10, Dirkse 7, Youngblood.
Signal Mountain (49) -- Nolan 1, Green 2, Henichen 5, Gutierrez 4, McCaffrey, Palmer 3, Elwell, Teter 7, TaDarrius Hodge 10, Lannon Sowell 17, Van Dyken.
3-point goals: CCS 5 (Rhodes 4); Signal 2 (Teter 2). Records: Signal Mountain 17-8; CCS 15-14.
A first-round bye was just one more obstacle to overcome for the host Signal Mountain Eagles, as a game-sharpened Chattanooga Christian hit their gym determined to pull off a District 7-AA upset Saturday night.
For most of the first half, the Eagles looked like a team that hadn't seen action since Monday as the Chargers rained 3-pointers down on them. But Signal Mountain's rust-proof press, ratcheted up to a two-platoon force, bought the home team enough time to find its offense and slip away with a 49-45 victory.
Second-seeded Signal Mountain will host Bledsoe County at 7 p.m. Tuesday, after CCS takes on Notre Dame at 5. Bledsoe beat the Irish 67-59 on Saturday with Eric Hale and Blake McCloud each scoring 21 points.
"We were looking to wear them down," Signal coach Steve Redman said as his team trudged into the locker room trailing 25-16 at halftime. "We've got a deep bench and we were looking for ways to keep everyone involved, so we've been pressing like that since about Christmas. I tell our guys that our press is like a series of body blows in boxing: One punch isn't going to end it, but you're going to wear them down."
The task was made more daunting by the Chargers' sharp-shooting freshman, Ryan Rhodes. With the Eagles packing their half-court defense down low, Rhodes elevated to hit three 3-point shots in the game's first five minutes. The visitors took a 14-5 lead at the end of the first quarter before the Eagles showed a pulse. Stephen Henichen scored his only five points of the night to open the second period, and Signal played its foe to a standstill.
It took exactly one possession in the second half to impress upon the Chargers and their coach, Jim Arnold, that this would be a different half. Plagued by turnovers and a couple of key missed open shots, CCS went 5:20 before scoring -- time enough for Signal Mountain to tie it at 25 on a Jack Teter 3-pointer.
It remained a standoff well into the fourth quarter as the game was tied on five occasions. But TaDarrius Hodge, who was having a tough time up until then, scored four straight points to put the Eagles ahead 42-38 with 1:55 to play. Slamming the door shut was Lannon Sowell, who hit stix straight free throws down the stretch and 11 of 12 in the game.
"That was awesome," Redmond said. "Our free-throw shooting has been so bad, even the officials have noticed."
"We haven't played a lot of games where we were the aggressor," Arnold said. "But I thought tonight we handled it pretty well until we got into foul trouble."
Sowell scored 17 points and Hodge added 10 for the 17-8 Eagles. Rhodes, who ended the game with a long 3-pointer, had 17 for CCS (15-14), while Josh Fikkert had 10 points and five blocked shots.
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