CHATTANOOGA — Mark Dragoo’s basketball court wasn’t kind to Oneida on Tuesday, March 3. And neither was the smothering defense applied by Dragoo’s CSAS team.
But, in the end, the Indians overcame, gutting out a 43-36 win over the Patriots to advance to the Region 2-A game and the Class A substate for a second consecutive season.
Dragoo, whose name is emblazoned on the court at the Chattanooga Schools for the Arts & Sciences in the heart of the city’s storied downtown area, coached his final game for the Patriots. He had previously announced his intention to entire after the season, and will hand over the reins of the program to his son.
Playing inspired basketball in their coach’s final game, the Patriots battled Oneida tooth and claw through the first three quarters, and briefly took a 22-21 lead with 4:35 remaining in the third quarter.
But Oneida, which had led most of the night, got the lead back just over a minute later, and hung on for the win to keep its season alive.
It was Oneida’s worst shooting night of the season; the Indians, who typically hit more than 50 percent of their shots, were limited to 35 percent shooting against CSAS and hit just one 3-point shot. In a 42-point win over Tellico Plains in the region quarterfinals 72 hours earlier, junior Kolby Morgan had eight 3-pointers by himself.
The Indians’ shooting woes helped CSAS keep itself in the game. In fact, the Patriots held Oneida without a point for the first 3:04 of the game. In the third quarter, Oneida went without a field goal until the 3:14 mark, when they finally scored to regain the lead for good.
But the Patriots weren’t exactly exploding offensively in their own right. While holding Oneida scoreless for more than three minutes to start the game, they were able to build only a 4-0 lead, which Oneida quickly overcame to take its first lead at 10-8 with 1:35 remaining in the opening period.
The Indians would go up by as much as nine points in the second quarter, 19-10, but CSAS answered with a 9-0 run to tie the game just before the half. Oneida scored last and took a 21-19 lead to halftime, only to see CSAS grab a 22-21 lead to start the third quarter.
Oneida answered with a Dalton Yancey free throw to tie the game, then took the lead a minute later when Morgan scored. The two finished with 14 points and 12 points, respectively.
Morgan also had seven rebounds. Nathan Bowling had nine points and nine rebounds. Freshman Jeric Huling had eight rebounds.
From there, Oneida again built a comfortable lead, 31-24. But CSAS again answered, cutting it to 31-29 at the end of the third quarter.
The fourth quarter was about Oneida’s defense and the free throw line. The Indians were 8 of 12 from the line in the fourth quarter after shooting just 2 of 6 from there through the first three quarters combined. And while CSAS was 5 of 7 from the line in the fourth, the Patriots did not have a field goal until 1:07 to play in the game, when Micah Wright scored and was fouled.
With the win, Oneida advanced to the region championship game and will face Harriman for a fourth time this season on Thursday, when the two teams meet at 7 p.m. at CSAS. The winner will host a substate game on Monday; the loser will travel to upper East Tennessee to face either Hampton or University High of Johnson City.
ONEIDA (43): Yancey 14, Morgan 12, Bowling 9, Perry 4, West 2, Huling 2.
CSAS (36): Morris 10, Foster 9, Bell 7, Wright 6, Brown 2, Ramsey 2.