Stone boys rebound to finish third

Feb. 22—After a disappointing loss three days earlier to Livingston Academy in the semifinals of the District 7, 3A Basketball Tournament in Cookeville, Stone Memorial coach Neil Capps was looking for something from his team.

He wanted a spark, a player to step up and go off offensively. He wanted some sign to show his team is ready to play basketball and make a deep run into the postseason.

Capps got just what he was looking for Tuesday night when the Panthers knocked off White County 52-36 in the consolation game of the tournament, which is being held at Tennessee Tech University.

"I think it is a really nice bounce back win against a really good team, considering we didn't play very good the other night against Livingston Academy, and Livingston had a lot to do with that," said coach Capps. "But I feel like after getting our game legs under us the other night, after a nine-day layoff, I thought we responded well and we knocked down some big shots. We struggled early to make shots, but I thought we finished well.

"Defensively, I thought we dug in. I was pleased with the way the guys defended. I also challenged them to rebound the ball and I thought we did that well. I thought we held their shooters down and didn't let them get loose."

The game started slow with neither team doing much offensively. White County, defensively, put Cole Sims as a chaser on Stone's Cade Capps, looking to deny him the ball.

The Panthers led 10-8 after the first period, thanks to the shooting of Brady Lane and Preston Mayberry. That roll continued for Stone Memorial in the second period. Cade Capps was able to get away for a few baskets, and Stone Memorial led 17-14 at halftime.

"The bonus side of a team face-guarding a really good player, is they do it a lot," said coach Capps. "We've had plenty of time to get used to it. But I thought Preston [Mayberry], Wyatt [Grothe], Braiden [Elliott], Jayden [Eldridge], and Brady [Lane] really stepped up. Spencer Bowman had some big minutes off the bench.

"And when they do that, that helps us because it loosens Cade up as well. We use Cade in situations where he is setting screens and people will help off that. We see that strategy a lot and it took us a while tonight, but in the second half, we got the ball rolling."

But White County wouldn't let the ball roll too far away and remained close for part of the second half. Baskets by Eldridge and Grothe paced the Panthers early to help Stone lead 28-26 heading into the fourth period.

And then in the final eight minutes, Cade Capps led the Stone charge, scoring his team's first 11 points of the quarter. With 3:10 to go in the game, SMHS led 43-32.

"We handled the struggles we faced," coach Capps said. "When something bad happened we didn't pout. We didn't complain. We went back and dug in."

Cade Capps led all scorers with 35 points. Lane scored 6 points and Grothe tallied 5. Eldridge, Mayberry and Elliott contributed two points each.

Cole Sims led White County with 14 points and Pinion contributed 12.

As the third seed in District 7, Stone will open the region tournament on the road Feb. 24 at Central Magnet High School in Murfreesboro. Tipoff is 7 p.m.

"Tonight, I thought we rebounded and defended really well," coach Capps said. "Down the stretch I thought we executed very well. You will notice about the 4-minute mark of the fourth quarter we started to move the ball well and got some continuity on offense.

"We got some layups, we got some open shots, we made our free throws. You've got to be able to do the tough stuff down the stretch of any game. Under 4 minutes in the fourth quarter, that is winning time. You've got to be able to take care of business."