GOREVILLE – Defending champion Anna-Jonesboro started each quarter with a run to beat Hamilton County, 51-37, in the opening game of the 7th annual Goreville boys basketball Invitational Tournament on Monday.
“I thought we shot it well to start, and that means we were playing well,” said Anna-Jonesboro coach Mike Chamness. “We kind of lost our legs in the second quarter and missed some shots, so I was proud how they came back to start the third quarter on a run to get some separation. I thought our leadership showed with Tyler Smith when he took over in the second half when we needed to. That was big for us.”
Anna-Jonesboro (1-0) was led by senior forward Smith with a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Junior guard Blake Pena added 10. Smith also had two steals.
The Wildcats made eight 3-points in the game, led by Cameron Tweedy, Carson Reynolds and Zach Overstreet with two each.
“We were just moving the ball good and that led to good baskets,” Smith said. “When we’re shooting well we make a lot of threes.”
The Wildcats had jumped out to a 12-point lead to open the game, thanks in part to two 3-pointers by Tweedy and Reynolds, and in part to four Foxes turnovers in the first four minutes of the game.
“We worked hard on our press-break during practice, but we reverted back and it killed us. We gave them a 10-point lead,” said Hamilton County coach Doug Miller. “We didn’t quit and that shows character. We had spurts of decent basketball and we hope to build upon that. So I walked away feeling we will learn and be better tomorrow night.”
Anna-Jonesboro was still holding its 12-point lead until Gus Walden stole the ball and fed Garrett Webb for a layup with 15 seconds left to cut the lead to 10 heading into the second quarter.
Anna-Jonesboro increased the lead to 19 in the first 1:12 of the second quarter on three consecutive 3-pointers, with Overstreet making the first two 37 seconds apart, followed by Tweedy 26 seconds later.
Hamilton County (0-1) cut the lead to seven with 53 seconds left in the half with a 10-0 run that included steals by Webb and Hunter Braden that led to transition baskets, along with two baskets by Robbie Morgan, who finished with a game-high 14 points.
However, Pena sank a 3-pointer with 31 seconds remaining, but Webb responded with a jumper from the left corner with two seconds left to cut the lead to eight at the half.
Anna-Jonesboro opened the third quarter with a layup by Noah McFarland, a putback by Smith and a free throw by McFarland after a steal that extended the lead back to 13 just 59 seconds in.
“Coach told us that the first four minutes of the third quarter was going to determine the game, so we came out just like we did in the first and second quarters,” Smith said.
Leading by 11 two minutes later, Smith sank a 3-pointer from the top of the key and followed with a layup to extend the lead back to 16 with 5:14 remaining in the third quarter.
The Foxes cut the lead to 13 to open the fourth quarter on a putback by Morgan, but that would be as close as Hamilton County would get.
In the second game, after leading by 10 after the first quarter, Benton overcame a four-point second quarter and a one-point lead at the half by dominating the fourth quarter to beat Johnston City, 60-49. Goreville played Hardin County in the final game of opening day.
The tournament continues Tuesday with Johnston City playing Hardin County at 5:30, followed by Goreville and Hamilton County, and closing with Anna-Jonesboro vs. Benton. The tournament concludes Saturday, with morning session starting at 10 a.m. and an evening session beginning at 4:30 with Benton playing Goreville in the finale.