KNOXVILLE, Tenn. | That it would take one of Scott High’s best efforts of the season to knock off District 3-3A champion Carter was no secret.
But few people likely expected the Hornets to pull off a nearly-40-point win in the Region 2-3A quarterfinals. Yet, when the final horn sounded in Strawberry Plains Saturday evening, Carter had eliminated Scott High from the postseason with a 75-36 win.
The Highlanders showed flashes, jumping out to an 8-4 lead and then rallying to within 12 points midway through the third quarter.
But Carter used a series of runs to advance to the semifinals — one to take the lead in the first half, another to take control of the game before halftime, and still another to break the Highlanders’ spirit in the third quarter.
Two Scott High players wound up in foul trouble before the half. Both Scott Jeffers and Brady Strunk had three fouls in a first half that saw the Highlanders whistled for more than 10 fouls to just four fouls against Carter.
Strunk’s third foul came on a bizarre sequence that saw him first whistled for a common foul, then a technical foul. Even though the common foul was just the Highlanders’ ninth of the first half, the officials awarded Carter two free throws for each foul. The Hornets missed the first free throw, but were erroneously given a second free throw despite the objections of Scott High head coach Rusty Yaden.
As it turned out, though, the officiating would hardly make a difference in the game. Dalton McNew scored 19 points to lead four Hornets in double figures, as the home team ran away with the game in the second half.
Scott High shot as many 3-point attempts as 2-point tries (18), and hit only 22% of its shots from the perimeter. The Highlanders were also only two of six from the free throw line.
The Highlanders turned the ball over 23 times and were out-rebounded by a decided margin.
It continued to appear that the Highlanders, who have a rotation of only seven players — and sometimes six — ran out of gas by the time the postseason arrived. Scott High was the No. 2 seed in District 4-3A in the regular season, and took regular season champion Halls to overtime. The Highlanders also took Kingston to the wire on the road in the final game of the regular season.
But the Highlanders were never able to find their footing in the postseason, first falling to an Anderson County team that they swept in the regular season and led by as much as seven points midway through the third quarter before the wheels came off, and ultimately going 0-for-the-postseason.
Yaden opted to pull his starters once Carter’s lead surpassed 20 points in the fourth quarter. The Hornets were slower to go deep into their bench, as several break-away dunks helped the lead grow to nearly 40 before Carter began subbing liberally.
Despite the dismal night, Grey Todd finished his career with 18 points and hit six of his seven attempts from inside the arch.
The game was the last for Todd, Strunk, Jeffers and Kayleb Woodward. The Highlanders’ roster for the 2023-2024 season looks to be very young, as the remaining players from this year’s team include only two juniors and no sophomores.
SCOTT (36): Todd 18, Babb 8, Strunk 6, Woodward 4.
CARTER (75): McNew 19, Smith 15, Ellis 10, Oliver 10, Brown 9, Wilson 6, Shuford 4, Hickson 2.