BAILEYTON — With 5:30 left in the third quarter, Cosby’s head coach Kurt Brooks received a double technical and was removed from the game.
Brooks defended his player, Shayden O’Dell, who was knocked to the ground and the official gave the double technical to Brooks before he could finish his statement.
From there, the game was back-and-forth but the Huskies used a shot underneath the rim by Chriss Shultz and a pair of free-throws from Cody Freshour to slip by the Cosby Eagles 71-68 in the Region 1-A championship game on Thursday at North Greene High School.
“I saw my player get knocked to the ground with a forearm,” Brooks said. “That’s what really set me off. I never say anything about the officials but I feel like this one was against us. There was such a big gap in the foul count all night then they hit me with an ejection.
“I know we lost but I can’t even express how proud I am of these guys for fighting back after I was ejected from the game,” Brooks added. “I believe this game will give us more fuel than ever.”
Cosby (14-13) now travels to face the winner of the Region 2-A Championship, Harriman (23-7), in the TSSAA Class A Sectional game on Monday.
North Greene (31-4) will host Chattanooga Arts and Science School (11-7) for its TSSAA Class A Sectional game.
The Eagles nearly pulled out the victory after Cody and Jody Lowe took over like a pair of head coaches.
“It is a tough and unfortunate situation,” Cody Lowe, head coach of Cosby’s girls’ basketball team said. “I thought we battled in such a hostile environment. We came in and swept them off their feet in the beginning but I wish we could’ve got it done.”
North Greene built its lead to seven after Brooks was ejected but a determined Cosby team did not let go as it held a 68-67 advantage with under 30 seconds to go.
Trey Johnson was able to get to the rim and give the Eagles that one-point advantage in the final 30 seconds, but that would be the last points Cosby would see.
“Johnson never quits,” Brooks said as he watched Johnson’s second-half performance on his phone from outside the school. “He knew what the situation was and he wanted this win, in a bad way. I wish Johnson would have taken a little more shots at times but I am never going to second guess my kids’ efforts.”
Johnson accumulated 16 points after his head coach was removed and finished the game with a team-best 24 points. Corey Askew knocked down four 3s in the first half and tallied 17 points to go along with Hayden Green’s eight points and five steals for the Eagles.
“I can’t say enough about the guys that have been giving us a lot,” Brooks said. “Green has been unbelievable this year on the defensive end. You saw he was giving it his all tonight. I also want to mention Corey Askew. “
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People have been sleeping on this kid and he has shined in big moments for us this postseason.”
Cosby never trailed in the first half, even holding a 32-24 lead in the middle of the second quarter.
North Greene, however, gradually fought back into it as it trailed 35-33 at the half.
“We have talked all year about our defense leading us,” Brooks said on his defense giving him the halftime lead. “I think we have been really good about giving our heart on the defensive end. We want tremendous ball pressure on the strong side but we want tremendous help defense on the weak side.”
The Huskies claimed their first lead of the game in the first three minutes of the second half and eventually built a seven-point lead prior to Brooks being removed.
Paxton Coggins and Green took charge with time running out in the third, as Coggins knocked down two 3-pointers and Green beat the buzzer to grab Cosby a 55-52 lead.
Coggins finished with nine points.
At the start of the fourth quarter, the foul count was nine to one in favor of North Greene.
“I looked through the window and saw the foul count and couldn’t believe it,” Brooks said.
The Huskies recaptured the lead with the gained opportunities and held on to it until Johnson converted a three-point play by driving to the basket and hitting his foul shot with 1:45 remaining.
There were three lead changes in the final 1:30 of the game and only one tie score at 66-66.
Cosby would steal the lead one last time in the final seconds before North Greene took control and held on to win the Region 1-A Championship.
“We are just trying to get a stop in the final seconds,” Cody Lowe said. “North Greene’s player came off a down-screen and made a big shot. It was contested and he found a way to make it. Johnson gets a runner down the lane afterward and it just didn’t fall. Someone had to lose the game.”
Schultz finished with the game-high 31 points and two other Huskies added double figures in the win.