Redskins' season back on track

Loudon High School’s Keaton Harig drives to the basket Friday in the Redskins’ 69-50 win over the McMinn Central High School Chargers.

The Loudon High School Redskins (11-8, 5-3 District 5-2A) ran away with a 69-50 win Friday over the McMinn Central High School Chargers to complete a three-game sweep last week.

The Redskins jumped to a 16-0 lead heading into the second quarter and never looked back.

Junior point guard Donovan Blankenship led the charge with 29 points, nine rebounds and eight assists.

“We came out and jumped on them early. We didn’t let them score in the first,” Josh Graves, LHS head boys basketball coach, said. “Central plays kind of high and hard man-to-man, they switch everything, so you’ve got to be able to get to the rim some, and I thought Donovan did that for us all night. His stat line was unreal. ... He had a huge night and had some guys step up around him and hit shots. That’s what you have to do, you have to hit shots when you play Central. They’ll help off to stop the drive eventually, but you’ve got to hit shots.”

Graves believes Friday was one of his team’s best overall performances this season. The offense’s 69 points is the highest all season, but the defense was also highly effective.

Senior Drew Jackson shined on defense with his speed and size to stop penetration down the lane.

“We started coming out and hitting shots, our offensive game really started clicking, but we just soared from there,” Jackson said. “We really came out with a chip on our shoulder because we let one get away from us down there, so coming out, we just came out with the mindset that we’re going to dominate this game, so we just took it from there.”

After a tough 61-54 loss Jan. 17 to Polk County on the road, the Redskins swept Harriman, Meigs County and McMinn Central to reclaim second place in District 5-2A.

“I think at this point in the season, it’s huge for us,” Graves said. “Monday and Tuesday, we didn’t play very well, but we found a way to win. We had those two days of rest/practice I guess you could say, and we were really able to try to shore some things up, offensively, get a lot of shots up and things to, hopefully, help us. Being able to win that McMinn Central game took us in a great spot of controlling our own destiny with the district tournament.”

Loudon played Sequoyah on Tuesday after presstime. Their next game is at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at home against Greenback, followed by an important district matchup Friday at Sweetwater.

“I mean, it’s great being able to control your own destiny,” Jackson said. “Like coach said, if we don’t get where we want, it’s on us. We control where we want to stand.”

Lady Redskins slip

The Loudon High School Lady Redskins (5-14, 1-7 District 5-2A) hoped to avenge an earlier loss to McMinn Central High School Friday but came up short 61-38.

The Lady Redskins led 9-3 heading into the second quarter but gave up 33 unanswered points in the second and third quarters. They trailed by seven at the end of three, but the Chargerettes turned up the pressure and ran away down the stretch.

“We had a chance going into the fourth quarter, and it’s been a while since we’ve had that chance against this bunch, so I’m proud of my kids,” Josh Brannon, LHS head girls basketball coach, said. “I thought they played their tails off. It’s just some things didn’t go our way in the fourth quarter and came out on the losing side of things, but overall, a really good game from us and we continue to get better.”

Carrie Pittman led the team with 15 points, followed by senior Molly Russell with 10 points. Brannon has charged both players with becoming the building blocks for the program he is wanting to establish down the line.

“We’re young in a lot of spots, and next year we’re going to get a lot of opportunities to get that one back down the line in these ladies’ careers,” Brannon said. “I’m really proud of Molly Russell. She left it out there on the floor and, you know, what a great legacy she’s leaving behind and setting the tone for that toughness that we’ve got to have moving forward in this program.

“We set the tone as coaches with what we want to do,” he added. “You look at our kids, they’re great kids and they’re trying to do everything we ask to the best of their abilities, so good kids and our mission, our philosophy, it’s paying off.”

The Lady Redskins will look to close out the week with wins.

“We’re excited to see some rivals in Greenback and turn around to play Sweetwater on Friday, so it’s another week, another opportunity to get better,” Brannon said. “We’re going to continue to do what we do and continue to progress and grow.”