Rodney Henderson leads unbeaten Tyner to home win over Brainerd

Staff photo by Patrick MacCoon / Tyner junior guard Rodney Henderson (2) scored a game-high 24 points to lead the Rams to a 66-53 home win over rival Brainerd on Saturday afternoon. The Rams improved to 6-0.
Staff photo by Patrick MacCoon / Tyner junior guard Rodney Henderson (2) scored a game-high 24 points to lead the Rams to a 66-53 home win over rival Brainerd on Saturday afternoon. The Rams improved to 6-0.

It's early, but an eighth consecutive 20-win season and the label of TSSAA Class 2A state title contender seem more than realistic for the Tyner boys' basketball team.

One big reason why: 6-foot-2 junior Rodney Henderson, the left-handed point guard leading the way for the Rams in their 6-0 start.

Henderson scored 24 points and blocked three shots in front of a jam-packed gymnasium in Saturday's 66-53 home win against Brainerd, a District 6-2A rival.

An all-state playmaker last season who recently reached the 1,000-point milestone for his prep career, Henderson was making moves even before the Rams tipped off their 2023-24 schedule. He was named MVP of the Ball in the Fall Basketball League in Chattanooga after averaging 24 points in four games. He has averaged 21 so far for the Rams, who are 2-0 in district play.

"Rodney is a veteran now, and this is his team," Tyner coach E'Jay Ward said. "The guys are looking to him to lead. He learned from the older guys on the team the past two years, and he is handling it with great poise. Now our younger guys are looking up to him."

On a court featuring two of the city's most consistent programs over the past decade, Brainerd (0-4, 0-2) came out of the gate going blow for blow with Tyner. Levar Brown's Panthers — who have made six of the past nine Class 2A state tournaments — knotted up the score at 16-all after Kendrick Jones' runner to start the second quarter.

However, the Rams were sparked by Kalvontay Moore and Adarius Brewster as each scored a half-dozen points in the period. Brewster, a transfer from East Hamilton, scored a pair of fast-break baskets and showed his electric playmaking ability with a powerful take through the paint to build a 31-19 lead.

Henderson, after stuffing a Brainerd shot off the backboard earlier in the quarter, provided a statement shot before the halftime buzzer as he pulled up from deep beyond the top of the key for a 3-pointer and a 39-23 lead.

"We are deeper this year as far as our guard play goes," Ward said. "We have multiple guys who can handle the ball and defend. I am very excited about this team. This is a brand new team. We are only six games in and have a lot to work on. My job is to light a fire up under my guys every single day.

"We still have a lot to work on, and that's the scary part about this group."

Trea Shaw led Brainerd with 18 points, scoring half of those in the third quarter.

Tyner girls 60, Brainerd 19: Rie'leya Mitchell and Cienna Ellison combined for seven of the Lady Rams' dozen 3-point baskets in a big win. Mariya Staton chipped in 15 points, six steals and five assists for Tyner (5-2, 2-0), while Shy Harrison had eight steals and four assists, and Mikayla Taylor added 10 steals.

Contact Patrick MacCoon at pmaccoon@timesfreepress.com.

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