GATLINBURG — Fouls, fouls and more fouls.
Monday night Morristown West built up 20-point lead in the second quarter at Gatlinburg-Pittman but fouls kept the Highlanders in the game, tying the game up at 66 with under two minutes remaining. G-P had their chance with West’s Trent Lovelace, who scored 27 points, fouling out with three minutes to go.
However, it was the Trojans who bent but didn’t break as Ji Batts made seven free throws in the final minute of the game to give Morristown West a 73-68 victory.
“We got out to a really good start, and I knew it was going to happen like this,” head coach Jonathan Smith said. “We struggled in areas tonight, but we bent in a couple different areas but didn’t break. Ji Batts gets a lot of credit knocking down free throws at the end, and Chase Smith had a great first half.”
Lovelace led the Trojans with his 27 points, 21 coming from beyond the three-point arc. Smith came alive in the first half with 14 points and had 16 in the game. Batts finished with 13 points.
It was all Lovelace and Chase Smith early as they scored all 17 of the Trojans first quarter points. Lovelace had 13, three three-pointers, and Smith four as West led 17-9 after one quarter.
With Lovelace in foul trouble for much of the second quarter, Chase Smith stepped into his role and kept the Trojans not only afloat but increased the lead to 20. Smith went on an 8-0 run on his own which included two three-pointers and a blocked shot on the defensive end. Gatlinburg-Pittman stayed in the game with an 8-0 run to finish the half, but the Trojans led 37-25.
“I knew that if we could get a couple ball reversals, we could have offensive success,” Smith said. “Our problem on offense is that we’ve been too stagnant. I saw a couple things on film that I liked, and we were able to execute that in the first half. We had six threes in the first half too, so that always helps.”
But, a new Highlanders team came out for the second half and immediately hit Morristown West with a 5-0 run. Gatlinburg-Pittman used their size to dominate the third and fourth periods with the Highlanders feeding Wyatt Smith, who responded with 27 points.
By the end of the third quarter, the lead was down to five for the Trojans.
“We got bullied underneath the rim and were undersized,” Smith said. “We couldn’t contain the ball and guard the ball, so we will work on that before Friday.”
In the fourth quarter the fouls became an issue with a total of 23 free throws being shot between both teams. The Trojans were called for multiple fouls on Wyatt Smith, who was fed the ball repeatedly down the court and missed just one free throw the entire game.
With three minutes to go, a double foul was called on Lovelace and G-P’s Sam Fulton, ending Lovelace’s night in a 62-62 contest. Calming his players down, Smith put the offense through Batts, who calmly took the game over and made his free throws to seal the win.
Ryan Shafer, who had 11 points, joined Lovelace on the bench after fouling out. Chase Smith sat for almost the entire second half with four fouls, while Connor Patrick and Sawyer Smith each finished with four fouls.
Morristown West will be back in action on Friday to take on rival Morristown East. The boys’ game is scheduled to tip-off at 7:30 p.m.
“We wanted to win tonight, so we had momentum headed into Friday,” Smith said. “You can’t get much better than East vs. West. Everybody knows each other, and I am just excited to see our guys compete. I’m sure it’s going to be a great game.”
DOBYNS-BENNETT FRESHMEN 51, MORRISTOWN WEST 43
Morristown West led by five at the half, but couldn’t hold on as they fell 51-43 to Dobyns-Bennett in a freshman boys basketball game Monday night.
The Trojans were led by Ryan King, who scored 10 points. Ty Steissinger had nine, Jackson Collins eight and T.J. Allen finished with seven.
D-B got 16 points from Jonovan Gillespie and 10 from Aiden Byington.