KNOXVILLE — The highlight of Scott High’s 55-54, non-district win over Knox Carter here Tuesday, Jan. 19, was a Trey Morrow buzzer-beater that allowed the Highlanders to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. But the game really hinged on a third quarter turn-around that began with a fiery lecture from an angry coach and a defensive switch that flustered the Hornets.
Down 38-26 late in the third quarter, Scott High coach Jordan Jeffers had seen enough. He had questioned his team’s desire late in the first half, when Carter was building a nine-point halftime lead. But when Cade Ramsey knocked down a 3-point shot to build that lead to 12 points, he used a time out and slammed his dry erase board against the floor in disgust.
“We don’t know how many games we’ve got this year,” Jeffers told his team. “We’ve not got to play many. It sucks. But we act like we don’t appreciate one second of getting to play basketball tonight. That’s what we look like. Like it don’t mean one flipping thing to us.”
Five minutes later, after the third quarter horn sounded, Jeffers had a different message for his team: “Isn’t that more fun?”
The Highlanders by that time were on an 14-2 run to tie the game. They would eventually stretch it into a 19-2 run to build a 45-40 lead early in the fourth quarter.
It wasn’t just Jeffers’ speech that turned the tide. He also switched up his defense. The Highlanders jumped into a press, and the game never looked the same after that, as they frustrated the Hornets into turnover after turnover.
Prior to the change in tempo, the game had been a disastrous effort on the offensive end for the Highlanders. Scott scored just seven points in the second quarter, and were 1 of 6 from the free throw line.
The third quarter didn’t start much better, as Scott was 4 of 10 from the line.
But Morrow scored nine of his game-high 27 in the third, and Cash Tucker added seven, as the Highlanders started to turn around their fortunes.
If it looked like the game was in check, Carter still had a surge left in the tank. The Hornets stormed back to take the lead late — thanks in no small part to still more missed free throws by the Highlanders, who were a dismal 7 of 21 from the line for the game. Colby Reynolds knocked down a long jumper with six seconds remaining to give the Hornets a 54-53 lead.
But out of a time out, Morrow raced the length of the court with the basketball, pulling up for a slightly off-balance jumper from just inside the 3-point line on the right wing as the final buzzer sounded. The shot didn’t even touch the rim, settling through the net as time expired to lift the Highlanders to the win.
Prior to that, senior Trevor McCarty had a big fourth quarter. He scored all eight of his points in the final period, twice getting open under the rim as the Highlanders broke defensive pressure and hitting both ends of a one-and-one free throw opportunity in the final two minutes of the game.
In addition to Morrow’s 27 points, the junior had 12 rebounds and — perhaps most impressively — seven blocked shots. Tucker finished with 12 points. Eli Storey had three steals before leaving the game with a wrist injury.
SCOTT (55): Morrow 27, Tucker 12, McCarty 8, Storey 3, West 3, Todd 2.
CARTER (54): McKeehan 16, Reynolds 10, Clark 8, Ramsey 8, McNew 6, Harper 4, Wilson 2.