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Blackman advances to title game over Brentwood

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The Blackman boys’ basketball team looked to continue its historic performance at the 2014 TSSAA BlueCross Basketball Championships Class AAA semifinals against Brentwood today at the Murphy Center. Last year, the Bruins knocked the Blaze out of the tournament with a last second shot. Blackman was hoping for some revenge and a trip to the state title game, which they received with a 47-41 win.

“After last year, everybody was crushed,” Blackman senior Lukas Hart said after the game. “Getting the win this year was just a big honor for us and the school.”

After trailing for most of the game, Brentwood took control during the final quarter of the game. Junior James McPherson nailed a three from the top of the key to give the Bruins its largest lead of the game, 39-34. However, the Blaze answered with a three-point play by senior Lukas Hart to make it, 39-37. It was the start of a 9-0 run by Blackman in the final few minutes of the game.

Hart tied the scored with a jumper. Then, seniors Jauan Jennings and Reid Pierce added scores to make the score, 43-39. The Blaze added four free throws down the stretch to seal the win.

“Basketball is a game of runs, and I tried to answer them,” Lukas Hart said. “We did not lose hope, and I tried to get us back in the game by hitting those shots.”

Jennings and Lukas Hart finished the game with 11 points, while fellow senior Reid Pierce added 10. Sophomore Cedriontis Wilson had nine huge points off the bench.

  Jennings had seven of the team’s 11 points during the first quarter, including a three-pointer to give the Blaze an 11-6 advantage. However, the Bruins went on a 7-0 run to close the opening quarter and took a 13-11 lead after one.

During the second quarter, the Blaze took a five-point lead on a couple of occasions thanks to a couple of baskets by senior Lukas Hart, but the Bruins closed the cap to three, 22-19 after a bucket by senior Jacob Adcock. Brentwood tried the slow the pace down late in the first half by holding the ball during the final two minutes of the second quarter, but the Blackman defense forced a missed shot. It took a 22-19 lead into the locker room.

“You are really concerned, especially with the last minutes of a quarter,” Blaze head coach Barry Wortman said. “We spent some time talking about it, and we changed some defenses. We handed those extremely well. It was a big part of the game getting those stops to end the quarters.”

Brentwood took the lead, 30-28, for the first time in a long time about midway in the third quarter after a long distance bomb by senior Andy Schumpert. Blackman tied the score at 30 after a couple of free throws by senior Andrew Rogan. The Bruins ended the quarter in slowdown mode again for the final minute and a half, but it once again missed the shot. However, Brentwood had a 31-30 advantage heading into the final quarter.

“We just trusted the coach’s defense,” Lukas Hart said. “We played good defense and forced them into a tough shot.

 Blackman was trying to be the first school in the area to sweep both the girls and boys state title during the same year.  Last week, the Lady Blaze won the school’s first ever state title in any sport, and it finished the year with only one loss and the No. 1 team in the nation according to MaxPreps. Only four schools in the state have ever accomplished the feat in tournament history. CPA out of Class AA had pulled off the feat on two separate occasions in 2012 and 2013.

“It is a great experience, especially for the fans we have at Blackman,” Blaze senior Jauan Jennings said after the win. “Without their support, we would not be accomplishing what we did this year. We just had a team like ours, because we stood with each other when people doubted us. “

The Blaze was not only trying to make school history, but Rutherford County history today. They are the first boys’ team in the area to advance to the state title game since 1984, when Oakland fell in the finals to Chattanooga Brainerd. The last time a boys’ team from Rutherford County won the championship was the 1965 Central squad.

“We trust our coach, and he makes us grind everyday all the time in practice,” Lukas Hart said. “Off the court, we just keep our composure and stay away from the bad things.”

Now, the Blaze head into the title game tomorrow against Oak Ridge. Oak Ridge knocked out Arlington in the other Class AAA semifinal today. Of course, Arlington knocked out fellow Rutherford County team, Siegel, in the quarterfinals earlier this week. The tip-off is set for 2 p.m. at the Murphy Center as the Blaze hope to continue its historic year at the school.

“It is going to take hard work and determination to bring home the title,” Lukas Hart said.

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Barry Wortman, basketball, Blackman, Jauan Jennings, Lukas Hart, TSSAA
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