Hurricanes pull away in second half, down West 64-45

Morristown East’s Braden Illic (23) goes up for a jumper against Morristown West’s Connor Patrick (12) Friday night.

Morristown East broke out of a tie game by outscoring cross-town rival West, 9-2, to close the first half and then scored the first seven of the third quarter on its way to a 64-45 victory Friday night before a packed house at Michael R. Reed Gymnasium.

The Hurricanes trailed by three at the first rest stop, but roared back for their fifth win against three losses. East evened its Inter Mountain Conference worksheet at 1-1 by beating the Trojans for the 10th time in the last 11 meetings between the rivals.

West was ice cold shooting the basketball and saw its record fall to 4-4 in its conference opener.

Braden Ilic racked up a double-double to pace the ‘Canes. The talented sophomore tossed in 19 points and raked off 15 rebounds. Fellow sophomore Micah Simpson chipped in 18 while facing heavy defensive pressure all night. Shaffer Harville added a dozen points and grabbed nine rebounds.

The Trojans got 13 points from Ryan Shaffer, with Trent Lovelace and Chase Smith adding 10 apiece. Lovelace scored eight in the first quarter and had just two free throws in the final three periods.

“I thought we did a good job defensively,” said East coach Alden Collins. “Our kids adapted and took away some of the things they wanted to do on offense as the game went along. I thought we did a good job of contesting shots and we finished it with rebounds.”

He added, “Their game plan was to take Micah out of the game and it was great for us that he hit a couple of big threes early. It opened up the game for everybody else. Braden and Shaffer are really good in the post and I thought we got good touches inside the paint.

“But it all started with the defense tonight. We had some easy baskets that came off steals in the third quarter and that was huge. I thought it was a really good team effort. Everybody that played contributed and did a good job.”

Collins said the way Simpson responded to the pressure was good to see. “Micah worked really hard running off the screens all night. He trusted his teammates inside and Cole (Henson) and Ryan (Harris) did a great job of putting the bigs in situations where they would be successful.

“This was really a big win for us coming off the loss at Sevier County on Tuesday. I thought we did a really good job.”

West managed to hit just 26.6 percent from the field, going 17-of-64 including 5-of-27 on three-point attempts.

Coach Jonathan Smith said, “In a game like this, you have to do the little things well and we didn’t do that tonight. In the first half, we didn’t rebound well and we didn’t match up in transition.

“We defended the ball pretty well at times and then didn’t finish by rebounding. It seemed they had a lot of second-chance points.”

Smith said, “It hurts to lose to your rivals but what we have to do is take this and learn from it and get better. We need to start having better practices and that’s on me. We’re going to fix that.”

East made 21- of-46 shots for 45.7 percent. The ‘Canes were 5-of-14 behind the arc but took only three in the second half.

Ilic and Harville led the winners to a 43-40 rebounding margin. Connor Patrick grabbed 10 and Lovelace nine for the Trojans.

Simpson hit two three’s in the first three minutes and East jumped out to an early 9-4 lead. However, Lovelace knocked two back-to-back triples and the Trojans led 17-14 at the first rest stop.

Ilic hit a long jumper and Harville made a free throw to tie it early in the second, but Smith hit a free throw and Ji Batts added a driving basket to put the Trojans up 20-17.

Harville fed Ilic for a layup and then Blake Jarnigan buried a three from the left corner to put the ‘Canes back in front. Batts drove for another bucket to give the Trojans their final lead at 24-23 with 3:17 left in the half.

But Harville’s charity toss tied it before Ilic put East in front for good with an inside basket. Simpson added two free throws before Shaffer scored the final points of the frame for West, making it 27-26 with 1:50 on the clock.

Harville rebounded his own miss and put it back in and Ilic canned a three-point jumper three seconds before the half for a 33-26 advantage.

It was Harville leading the early push in the third stanza, as he scored a pair of baskets inside before Simpson stole a pass and scored. Harville made a free throw and it was 40-26.

The Trojans tried to rally as Smith hit a pair of threes and Batts scored as the lead was cut to 44-37. But Harville scored again and Ilic added a basket to put the Hurricanes in front 48-37 at the final stop.

Ilic and Simpson led the way with six points each as East pulled away in the fourth frame. The ‘Canes hit 8-of-9 free throws in the quarter. Shaffer scored six of the Trojans’ eight.



Saturday morning the Morristown West freshmen boys team took out visiting Northview Academy in blowout fashion, winning 71-34 at Morristown West High School.

The Trojans got 17 points from Rylin King, 12 from Ben Snapp and 11 from Ty Steisslinger.

Northview was led by Thomas Costner, who scored 10 points.



Morristown West survived a third-quarter Jefferson County surge to take the 56-45 freshman win Thursday night at Jefferson County High School.

The Trojans got 17 points from Rylin King and 15 from Ty Steisslinger. Ben Snapp contributed six points and Brett Blair five in the victory.