The Loudon High School Redskins (5-6, 0-2 District 5-2A) returned to action last week and ended up 1-2 against some of the top teams in the state in the Under Armour Classic at Cleveland High School.
The Redskins tipped off Thursday and fell 74-45 to a stout Class 3A Siegel High School team.
“We played Siegel, who lost in the championship game by 10 to Cleveland, who is in the top 10 in triple-A in the state and Siegel’s not far behind them,” Josh Graves, LHS head boys basketball coach, said. “They’re probably the best team we’ll play all year. They’re exceptional with their athleticism, their size and their ability to shoot the ball. We didn’t play our best, and you can attribute some of that to them and some of that to us. The first game was our toughest opponent by far.”
The Redskins bounced back Friday with a 57-43 win over an athletic Fairley High School team out of Memphis.
“They’re quick, athletic, got guys all over the floor that can fly around, so that’s good for us from a region standpoint to help us prepare,” Graves said. “I thought Donovan (Blankenship) had a good day, offensively, and some guys stepped up in their roles, took care of the ball and got to the rim and finished.”
Blankenship struggled to score and distribute the ball against Siegel but responded in a big way in the Redskins’ win.
“I’d say we played more team basketball,” he said. “(Thursday) we weren’t hitting shots and we were getting really frustrated. As a team, I’d say we played better (Friday) overall. I wouldn’t say we weren’t quite ready ... I made some dumb passes, but I’d say Thursday’s pressure was a bit better than Friday’s pressure. I’d say we handled the pressure a lot better on our passes and the way we dribbled the ball.”
Senior Lucas Bivens also played a key role in the Redskins’ win with backdoor cuts and transition offense/defense.
“I’m normally throwing it in, but coach put Drew (Jackson) throwing it in,” Bivens said. “I was running the sideline, and I was just trying to find the hole, find the open spots, find the press and it just opened.”
The Redskins followed up Saturday with another close game but fell 57-55 in the waning seconds against a tough Class 1A Bradford High School team.
“We played a good Bradford team out of northwest Tennessee, and they could compete and probably beat most double-A teams in the state,” Graves said. “We had a 14-, 15-point lead going into the fourth and missed some key layups. We played great defense the first three quarters and that’s our thing — we’ve got to put more quarters together. We allowed single digits in the first three quarters in every quarter. I think it was seven, eight and seven points, and then we gave up 27 in the fourth quarter. One quarter, we did not play our best, and I think I could’ve possibly went back zone a little bit to help us. That’s something that I’ve got to grow and learn.”
The Redskins will return to district action this week when they host Sequoyah High School at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and travel to Meigs County on Friday. They played Roane County High School on Tuesday after News-Herald presstime.
“We’ll likely see a good bit of zone against Sequoyah, I mean, that’s what they’ve run the first half of the year,” Graves said. “Offensively, we’ll have to be pretty polished for that. Meigs has ran man this year but has traditionally been zone, so it could be up in the air. They don’t have the talent they have normally, but they’ve got a good coach and they play hard. At anytime, like last year, you go to Meigs and you’ve got to be ready to play, it’s a tough place to play. It’s two big district games that we’d definitely like to get at the end of the week, and if we can beat Kingston, that would be a much-needed quality win for our program right now.”