The Fort Loudoun Middle School Braves basketball team continues to ride a wave of momentum midway through the season, capturing their fifth win Monday over the Philadelphia Elementary School Warriors on the road.
The Braves set the tone early and led by as much as 13 at halftime before exploding on offense with a 14-0 run in the third quarter.
Fort Loudoun’s defense also stepped up late to limit the Warriors to just eight second-half points en route to a 57-26 victory.
“Before the game, all the guys were hype,” Joel Bailey, FLMS head boys basketball coach, said. “I told them, especially my eighth-graders, ‘This is your final time to beat Philly,’ so they wanted it, especially after the last game with the way we played and how hard and tough we fought. Before this one, they were ready to go. They played pretty good. I tell them all the time, after watching a game like this, we see that we can just about beat anybody if we all come to play. I think games like this are needed to get your confidence back up after a tough loss. They showed they wanted it and they played lights out.”
FLMS eighth-grader Zane Lawhon led the team with 18 points, scoring 10 in the first quarter. Brody Thearp finished second with 14, while Sebastian Correa and Reid Currier each added eight and six points, respectively, in the paint.
“I scored when I needed to score and passed when I needed to pass,” Lawhon said. “My guys helped me, and I couldn’t have done it without my teammates. They helped me throughout this whole game. We stuck together today, and I’m really proud of that.”
The win completed a season sweep of the Warriors — a first in Lawhon’s three years at FLMS.
“It’s special, we’ve never swept Philadelphia anytime that I’ve been here,” he said. “Heck, last time we played them, that was the first time we beat them in three or four years, so that’s big for us. That’s a big time rival.”
Bailey believes his team is beginning to peak at the right time before the Christmas break.
“I think that with this team, we know how good we can be,” he said. “I think when we don’t do things the right way, we get down on ourselves a lot, and I think that they are definitely gaining some momentum. I think that they’re like, ‘Coach is on us for a reason,’ and so they’re starting to finally see the fruits of it. Hey, they played lights out again, so there’s really not a whole lot to say after that one.”
While Lawhon, Thearp and Correa have been the main go-to players, Bailey continues to lean on his talented underclassmen for depth.
“Again, I go back to having my sixth-graders,” Bailey said. “I think the biggest thing I’ve been leaning on is the leadership, not just from my eighth-graders but my seventh-graders as well. Noah Eller has stepped up big time, Jayden Capshaw — he stepped up big time just being a leader out there helping my sixth-graders. I think it’s trickling down to everybody. All of our teammates want to see us succeed, and that’s the biggest thing. When everybody wants everyone else to succeed, it’s so hard to beat a team like that.”
Fort Loudoun’s next game is at 6 p.m. Thursday at home against Rockwood Middle School to wrap up homecoming week.