Feb. 23—The Arts & Sciences boys' basketball team has had to push through tragedy over the past year. From a player losing his home due to the Easter tornadoes to another player losing his father to COVID-19, the Patriots' perseverance on the basketball court paid off in a big way Monday night.
CSAS cut down the net at their home gym as the District 4-A tournament champions after a 58-49 victory over Tellico Plains in which sophomore Justin Brown stood out. The district championship was the first for the program since the 2016-17 season.
"These guys have overcome a lot of adversity thrown their way and really worked hard to get to this moment," first-year head coach Zach Dragoo said shortly after his team improved to 9-6 overall with its third win over the Bears this season.
"I asked our guys before the game tonight, 'What do you want your legacy to be?' They are now the 10th (CSAS) team to win a district tournament title. We want to keep adding to that tradition and play into March."
After the Patriots lost by three and one-point the past two seasons in the district tournament championship game, the program has plenty of reason to celebrate.
Challenged before the game to be aggressive, Brown did exactly that. The talented 6-foot-2 guard took over by attacking the paint on his way to a 22-point performance that helped him earn tournament MVP honors.
Brown rose into the air for an alley oop slam dunk just seconds into the second half and soon after drew the defense to him before assisting Louis Bell (11 rebounds, two blocks) for a two-handed dunk to build a 35-22 lead.
CSAS also got scoring contributions from lone senior Ethan Brown (10 points) and sophomore Chase Pride (12 points). Sophomore Jarius Cameron also added five assists while junior Evan Ramsey blocked a pair of shots to fire up his teammates and the home crowd.
"Ethan is a great leader. He is the first one in the gym and last one to leave," said Dragoo, of the senior sharpshooter who has averaged over 13 points per game this season. "He's brought his younger teammates along with him and they are clicking at the right time. It's great to see him and our guys cherish this moment together."
Evan Harris led Tellico Plains with 21 points.
Bradley Central 82, McMinn County 38: The Bearette's dynasty run continues as coach Jason Reuter's squad won its 11th straight District 5-AAA championship.
The first round of the GHSA state playoffs will be held today and Wednesday, with 20 area teams set to compete.
Five of those teams are region champions — the Sonoraville girls and the Calhoun, Heritage, LaFayette and Christian Heritage boys — giving them at least two home games should they win. Region tournaments saw several upsets, starting with Calhoun (15-10), which won its first title in Class AAAAA after moving up two classifications this season, and including Heritage, which got leading scorer Cooper Terry back in time to upset Cedartown in Region 7-AAAA.
The upsets weren't all positive for area teams, however. The Chattooga boys (17-3), who dominated Region 7-AA during the regular season, were upset by Model in the region title game and will have to face perennial state power Columbia (17-6) in today's first round. The Trion girls (18-4) went undefeated in the Region 6-A public regular season but fell to Armuchee in the tournament championship.
The second round will be held Friday and Saturday.