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Blackman did what most people didn’t anticipate

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Hopefully you followed the Blackman boys through the state tournament on line with David Hunter’s excellent coverage that was posted just minutes after each game.

If you didn’t, or even if you did, on March 14 the Blackman boys and Coach Barry Wortman did something no Rutherford County boys team had done in 30 years – they reached the finals of the state tournament. Siegel and Oakland had tried it numerous times, and Riverdale and Eagleville made a run. The last team to play in the finals was the Oakland boys coached by Dickie Thomas and Randy King. The Pats played Chattanooga Brainard to the wire at Vanderbilt but lost (barely) in 1984.

Blackman got to the 2014 finals by upsetting tournament favorite Memphis Hamilton 72–63, and then beat the favored Brentwood Bruins 47–41. It wasn’t easy to advance, and it took a Herculean effort in the final three minutes to do so. The Blaze, in front of approximately 1,300 Blackman students (and a like number from Brentwood), simply refused to lose.

I’m not certain how Blackman won, but many players came up big in the fourth quarter. If you need a hero, let’s go with Cedriontis Wilson. who had nine points off the bench and some big rebounds.

The scoring was balanced as three players were in double figures. Lukas Hart and Jauan Jennings had 11 each and Reid Pierce had 10. Their 26th win gave Blackman a chance at history, and they seized it against east Tennessee state power Oakridge (32–7).

The Blaze fell behind the Wildcats early and trailed by 10 early in the fourth quarter, but again, they responded by scoring 14 unanswered points and winning the gold ball with a 60–58 victory.

Again Blackman had balanced scoring as Jennings had 14 and won the tournament MVP, but this was a team win. Pierce had 13 along with eith rebounds, Lukas Hart had 12 and 10 boards and Andrew Rogan had 10. All three were all-tournament. Isaiah Hart had eight and fouled out late. Blackman shot poorly from the floor (17  of 45) but was 24 of 32 from the line. I think the Blaze won because they never gave up and finished at 27–6.

So Blackman broke a 49-year state tournament winless streak and a 30-year old Rutherford County no final appearance streak. In so doing Blackman slew some other myths. Can’t beat a Memphis team? Blackman did! Can’t beat Brentwood after two straight losses to the Bruins. Blackman did!  Can’t appear in the finals and win. Blackman did!

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