A large crowd at Cookeville High School Wednesday night saw the second seeded Stone Memorial Panthers defeat the top seeded Cookeville Cavaliers 64-53 to claim the District 6AAA basketball tournament championship to claim the rubber match in the season series at 2-1.
Fans from both SMHS and CCHS saw the Panthers take a 13-6 lead on the strength of Matthews' five points and treys by Simmons and Tyler Yoder; however, the Cavaliers finished the quarter with two buckets by Mason Bates to slice the lead to 13-11.
SMHS was five of nine from the field with two turnovers, while Cookeville was five of 14 with three turnovers.
Matthews' trey gave the Panthers a 16-11 advantage, but a 7-0 run by the Cavaliers gave them an 18-16 advantage. Two free throws by Simmons send the Panthers on a 13-3 run to take a 29-21 lead at the break. Simmons had six points for SMHS, who was six of 12 from the field and two from the charity stripe with two miscues.
John Payne scored seven points in a 12-7 Cavalier run to slice the lead to 36-33, but a lay-up by Brandon Thomas and a trey by Matthews gave SMHS a 41-33 lead with 2:58 left in the third quarter.
A trey by Trey Buntrun helped CHS finish the quarter with 6-1 run to slice the lead to 42-39, as the Cavaliers were eight of 15 from the field. SMHS was five of 13 from the floor.
The Panthers used a 12-2 run to swell the lead to 54-41 with 5:17 left in the contest to the delight of the last contingent from Cumberland County. Simmons and Parker Hill had five points each for the Panthers.
A three-point play by Will Buford with 4:14 left sliced the gap to 54-44, but a bucket by Simmons gave SMHS a 56-44 lead. Another bucket by Payne started a 7-0 run to slice the gap to 56-51.
SMHS finished the quarter with an 8-4 run to secure the championship.
Leading the Panthers were Spence (one rebound, five assists, one steal), Yoder (12 points, seven rebounds, two assists, two steals), Thomas (six points, five rebounds, one steal), Simmons (20 points, 10 rebounds), Hill (eight points, one rebound), Matthews (15 points, one rebound), Hill (eight points) and Russell (one rebound).
The Panthers will host District 5AAA fourth-place Ooltewah Saturday at 7 p.m. There will be no reserve seats and county passes will not be honored. The winner advances to next Tuesday's region semi-finals at Cookeville High School against the White County-Cleveland winner.