RUTLEDGE - With all the precipitation the Lakeway area has had to endure this week, it seemed only fitting that it was raining threes at The Den Thursday night.
Morristown East and Grainger combined to hit 21 three-point shots with the Grizzlies nailing 13 of them. It wasn’t enough for the home team though as the Hurricanes avenged an earlier loss in Morristown with a 67-54 win.
After leading by five points at the end of the first quarter, East used a 16-2 run to start the second where it seemed as if they hit every shot they put up. That run eventually ballooned to 18-5 and was matched by a 12-0 outburst to begin the third. The Hurricanes pushed their lead to 30 points at one point before Brody Grubb broke out for seven triples in the second half to finish with a total of 26 points. Micah Simpson also netted 26 for East, but the Canes spread the scoring around as Shaffer Harville had 17 and Braden Ilic added 10 points. Jaxon Williams added 11 points for Grainger.
“It was a fun start to the game with both teams hitting shots and a lot of excitement, and we were fortunate that in the second quarter we were the ones taking shots and continuing to execute,” East head coach Aiden Collins said. “Grainger was missing shots in the second quarter and that is so much the story of basketball. Our guys did a good job with layups to earn us some looks in the second quarter.
“Micah was phenomenal scoring with the ball all night and being aggressive and also got some other people involved. Shaffer Harvile comes up with 17 points tonight which is big for our team. We spread it out as Cole Henson hits a three for us and Cooper Wright ends up with five points, Ryan Harris gets loose in transition for six, it was a very good team effort from everyone who stepped in.”
The game started with a bang as the two teams hit a combined seven triples in the first eight minutes. The lead switched nine times before Simpson scored on a layup and then hit a three as time expired to give East a 22-17 lead at the end of the first quarter. Williams scored eight points for Grainger in the opener. Simpson started the second period with a three and that was an indication of what was to come as a 16-2 advantage in scoring pushed the Canes’ lead to 38-19 with 1:30 to go in the half. Grainger recovered somewhat late but still trailed 40-22 at halftime.
Ilic connected on a downtown shot to begin the third, and then it was Harville who got in on the action, scoring five points to go along with four from Simpson as the Canes enjoyed their biggest lead at 52-22. Grubb stopped the bleeding for Grainger as he was true from behind the arc, and Tristan Warfield followed with a three of his own. After that, it was all Grubb as he hit three deep shots to round out the third and make the score 56-27 at the end of three.
Grubb wasn’t done there as he hit three more bombs to begin the fourth quarter. Wright answered with five points of his own but once again, Grainger found the hot hand from deep as Emmanuel Atkins hit a three as did Williams. Grainger was able to narrow the 30-point deficit down to 13 with their three-point accuracy but that was as close as they could get in the 67-54 setback.
“Grainger hit a lot of shots in the second half and we were able to weather through it and still play with confidence due to our efforts in the first half,” Collins said.
“At half time, we go in down 18 points as we were 5-of-12 from two and East is 9-of-12 and we are 3-of-11 at the free throw line,” Grainger head coach Adam Wolfenbarger said of East’s fantastic start to the game. “We got the same shots, not real bad shots, pretty good ones that didn’t go in. They made theirs obviously and were hot. Finally, they started missing some and we started making some and that is the story of the game. Hats off to Morristown East as they played their rear off and are really getting it going at the right time. They were better than we were tonight.”
“He can do that” Wolfenbarger said when asked about Grubb’s ability to hit three point basket after three point basket in the second half. “We leave him out there a lot because we he gets that first shot down, a lot of times he gets going that way. Brody is a special player for us and can really shoot it. Some of our other guys just didn’t have their best game tonight and that is going to happen.”
East is done until the district tournament next week and Grainger plays in Maynardville this evening against Union County.