Simpson lifts Morristown East past Chiefs

Morristown East’s Micah Simpson fires up a shot from long distance against Cherokee Monday.

ROGERSVILLE — Morristown East outscored host Cherokee 38-18 in the middle two quarters Monday night and went on to a 72-56 triumph.

Micah Simpson poured in 30 points to lead the Hurricanes, who are now 12-10 for the season. Braden Ilic added 11 and raked off a dozen rebounds while Shaffer Harville scored 10.

Breiydon Gilliam scored the Chiefs’ first 15 points and finished with 24 for the home team. Carter Metz chipped in 11.

Cherokee saw its record fall to 8-12 on the season.

It was an exciting first quarter that saw three ties and six lead changes before the Hurricanes scored the final four points of the frame to lead 22-19. East then broke the game open with nine straight points in the second quarter and a 20-9 scoring margin in the third stanza.

East shot a hot 57.7 percent by making 30 of 52 from the floor including 6 of 13 three-point attempts. Cherokee was good on 23-49 for 46.9 percent.

Ilic led the Hurricanes to a 31-27 backboard advantage. Gilliam had nine for the Chiefs.

East coach Alden Collins said, “It was encouraging to see us score early in the game. Micah got loose early and made some three’s when they were doubling down on Braden.

“We like to play inside-out and Braden did a good job of getting his teammates the ball,” said Collins.

The coach added, “We also played on defense. We got a lot of deflections at the top of our zone and those turned into steals. Creating turnovers creates some easy shots and buckets in transition.”

When asked if East did anything different defensively to shut Gilliam down, Collins said, “I think our kids just adjusted in knowing who was really hot and kind of shading toward him in our zone.

“It was good to see our kids bounce back like this after a tough loss to West on Thursday. We had a great practice on Friday and it showed up tonight.”

Cherokee’s Trey Fields remarked, “Our effort was really good in the first quarter. But after that, you could see it start to go away.

“But give East credit. They shot it well and ran their offense really well,” he said. “I thought Braden had a great game for them and so did Micah. Everybody else did what they’re supposed to for them and they played well.”

Fields added, “We have to make shots and we’ve got to get better defensively.”

It was a shootout between Gilliam and Simpson in the first quarter. Simpson had two threes and a fast break basket to offset Gilliam’s 15. Simpson knocked down another three after Gilliam put the Chiefs in front 15-13 with 2:25 left in the initial period.

Jason Sattler had back-to-back buckets for Cherokee to put his team back in front but Simpson hit another three and Cody Ridley had an inside basket and the ‘Canes led by three at the break.

Simpson made a pair of free throws to start the second frame, but Metz scored for the Chiefs. Blake Jarnigan knocked in a triple for East but a three by Jonathon Fulkerson got the home team within 29-26 with 4:38 to play in the half.

Hayden Seals ignited East’s 9-0 spurt with a basket. Ilic then had an old-fashioned three-point play and a short jumper and Harville followed up his own miss to make it 38-26. Gilliam scored for the Chiefs, but Ilic got the final field goal of the half and the ‘Canes took a 40-28 lead into intermission.

Metz drained a three to start the third to cut the margin to nine but Simpson had a steal and layup and Ilic scored off a nice pass from Harville. Metz made a short jumper and Gilliam hit two free throws and it was down to nine again. East’s Ryan Harris and Metz traded baskets and it was 46-37 with 3:50 left in the quarter.

Simpson hit the first of two free throws and Ilic grabbed the rebound when he missed the second. He went right back outside to Simpson, who pumped in a triple to start a 14-0 East run.

Before the quarter ended, Simpson and Ridley scored two baskets each and Seals connected again for a 60-37 lead at the final rest stop.

Harville scored six points in the last quarter as East held a comfortable lead the rest of the way. The closest Cherokee got was at 64-49 and East got baskets from reserves John Robert Terry and Hayden Ward down the stretch.