New TAZEWELL, Tenn. — Corey Swinney hit a 3-pointer with 23 seconds to play to lift Chuckey-Doak to a 55-52 win over Cumberland Gap in the District 2-AA semifinals at Claiborne High School on Saturday.
Swinney followed up a 22-point effort in the Black Knights’ first round win over Claiborne with 18 more on Saturday. Chuckey-Doak also got 14 points from Garrett Johnson and ten from Birkir Viddison to pull off the upset.
Cumberland Gap, the tournament’s number two seed, was led by senior point guard Trevor Graves with 22 points while senior center Isaac Daniels added 18 and forward Nathan Hatmaker six.
“Our defensive effort was good. We had some mental breakdowns late in the game that hurs us, but as far as their effort I can’t fault them,” Panther coach Ernie Clawson said. “(Chuckey-Doak) had kids that stepped up and hit some big shots, especially the Swinney kid there at the end. You’ve got to give them the credit, they made shots when they needed to and they made plays. But I’m proud of my kids, they played hard.”
Early on it looked like it would be the Panthers’ night. Graves hit a pair of 3-pointers and scored eight points in the first quarter. Daniels added five points and Cumberland Gap built a 17-12 lead.
But the outside shots quit falling for Cumberland Gap after the first quarter. The Panthers only managed to connect on two field goals in the second — one from Graves and one from Jordan King. Meanwhile, the Knights got four points from Swinney, a 3 from Viddison and baskets from Taylor Johnson, Garren Taylor, and Jordan Lamb to rally into the lead. One free throw by Daniels and four from Graves put CGHS back on top and Garrett Johnson’s baseline jumper at the buzzer made it 28-27 at halftime.
Chuckey-Doak forced a couple of turnovers early in the second half and opened the third quarter with an 11-4 run. Swinney hit a pair of 3-points during the spurt and Ben Gridley converted an old fashioned three-point play. The Knights led 38-32 at the midway point of the period.
“I’m proud of my kids. We played hard from start to finish. There was a little stretch at the beginning of the third quarter, they came out with a trap and that really hurt us. We just kind of got a little lax with the basketball and not getting to spots where we needed to be to beat it.”
Two baskets from Daniels and a layup from Graves after a Hatmaker steal brought Cumberland Gap within 40-38, but Viddison hit a 3 late in the quarter and Chuckey-Doak led 43-38 going into the fourth.
The Panthers never regained their shooting touch from long range but Graves again converted a steal into a layup, Daniels scored after grabbing an offensive rebound, and Hatmaker scored inside on a nice feed from Jordan King for a 44-43 CGHS lead with 5:25 to play.
It went back-and-forth over the next several possessions with Daniels muscling in another basket off an offensive rebound at the 2:40 mark for a 48-47 Panther lead. He then hit a little jumper in the lane to make it a three-point game.
Viddison scored inside and was fouled on the following possession. He missed the free throw, but Gridley was able to come away with the rebound. Soon after, Josh Lamb got a putback to go and Chuckey-Doak was back on top, 51-50 with 1:30 remaining.
Cumberland Gap got a couple of good looks at a go-ahead basket on their next possession, but neither would go down. Swinney hit one-of-two free throws to push the lead to two. Then Panther senior Blake Arnold spotted up for a 16-foot jumper off a kick-out from Hatmaker to tie the game at 52 with 44 ticks on the clock.
Garrett Johnson drew in the Panther defense and found Swinney open in the corner for what proved to be the game-winner with 23 seconds to go.
The Panthers called a time out to set up their final possession, but the Knights defended it very well and Cumberland Gap had to settle for a contested 3 from Graves with about four seconds remaining. It hit the glass, then the front of the rim and bounced right into Johnson’s hands as Chuckey-Doak ran out the clock.
“They made big plays and hit some big shots and, you know, it’s tough. It’s tough to swallow and it really hurts. It hurts the kids, it hurts me, it hurts all of our coaches — and it should,” Clawson said.
There was another upset in the late semifinal as fourth-seeded Grainger knocked off Greeneville 65-57.
The Grizzlies (16-14) will play Chuckey-Doak (17-10) on Tuesday for the district championship. Cumberland Gap (17-10) will take on Greeneville (20-10) on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. in the third place game.
Saturday’s results also mean that Grainger and Chuckey-Doak will host first round games in the Region 1-AA Tournament while Cumerland Gap and Greeneville will play on the road.
“We’ve got seven seniors and it’s still their team. I told them: ‘It’s totally up to you all. We can quit right now and look terrible Tuesday night or we can come back together, get a big win Tuesday night and then go on the road. Who knows what can happen? We’ve just got to be mentally tough and be able to do that,’” Clawson said.
Form held true in the girls tournament as number two seed South Greene rolled to an 82-40 win over West Greene in the early semifinal and top seed Grainger improved to 29-0 with a 67-47 win over Chuckey-Doak in the late game.
South Greene (22-10) will take on the Lady Grizzlies in Monday’s championship game at 8 p.m. while Chcukey-Doak (12-16) and West Greene (9-19) will meet in the third place game that same evening at 6:30 p.m.
— — —
Chuckey-Doak…12…15…16…12 — 55
Cumb. Gap………17…11…10…14 — 52
CHUCKEY-DOAK (55): Corey Swinney 18, Garrett Johnson 14, Birkir Viddison 10, Josh Lamb 4, Garren Taylor 4, Ben Gridley 3, Taylor Johnson 2, Jared Meredith 0.
CUMBERLAND GAP (52): Trevor Graves 22, Isaac Daniels 18, Nathan Hatmaker 6, Blake Franklin 2, Blake Arnold 2, Jordan King 2, Jordan Bullins 0, Matt Wade 0, Austin Anderson 0.