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Stone boys fall in tourney thriller

Mar. 1—The Stone Memorial Panthers had their journey to the state basketball championship derailed Tuesday night when the Upperman High School Bees scored four points in the final 10.1 seconds of the game to win 47-46 in the Region 3 semifinals at Tullahoma High School.

SMHS had the lead at 46-43 when Upperman's Ty Cobb brought the ball the length of the court and launched a 3-pointer from the top of the key that hit nothing but the bottom of the net. The big basket tied the game and left 4.2 seconds on the clock

Stone Memorial had a 5-second violation called on the Panthers on the following in-bounds play, giving the ball back to the Bees. Upperman inbounded the ball to Bronzden Chaffin. He was fouled and made one of two free throws to provide the final margin.

"This time of year, you're not always going to get real beautiful basketball," said Stone Memorial coach Neil Capps. "The old adage is survive and advance, and that's what we did. We just didn't make the plays we needed to in certain spots.

"We had some defensive lulls, but I thought we fought our way back, and that is what it is about for this time of year. You have make plays when you get the chance. I tell kids all the time you have to be able to defend, rebound and execute offensively in the half-court if you want to be successful in the postseason. We did that for 31 minutes and 50 seconds. Hats off to Upperman. They wouldn't quit."

The battle Tuesday night raged early and often. Cobb and Clayton Harris tried to push the Bees out front early in the first period. But Stone's Cade Capps, Braiden Elliott and Jayden Eldridge sparked the Panthers and Stone finished the first half one point back at 25-24.

"Neither team really got many good looks at anything," coach Capps said. "We were trying to be patient, trying to get a good look. We were trying to get the ball in Cade's hands but they were doing a good job of staying close to him.

"I tell the kids you can have the best game plan. You can even have your plays all scripted. But, the region semifinals is a big, big night. There is a lot of pressure on the kids because every kid out there knew you had to win or go home."

Coach Capps said his team competed hard until the very last horn.

"We knew they needed a 3 on the last play, so we told our guys to stay close to them," the coach said.

"We wanted to make sure we didn't give them any clean looks. I think you pretty much knew he [Cobb] would probably take the shot. He got a clean look and knocked it down. That is what good players do. They make plays."

Cade Capps led Stone in scoring with 20 points. Brady Lane had 11 and Braiden Elliott had 7. Jayden Eldridge scored 6, while Wyatt Grothe scored 2.

Cobb scored 15 to set the pace for Upperman. Harris and Brayden Roberts contributed 10 points each.

"You can't whittle the whole entire season down to 10 seconds," coach Capps said. "We replaced three starters this season with guys that were rotational guys from last year. They didn't have a lot of experience, but they got better. We had a tough schedule this year, but we had a very good season.

"But it is what it is. I told them [after the game] I didn't want them to let those last 10 seconds define their season. We had a good season and I am proud of these guys."