Before a large crowd at White County Tuesday night, the CCHS Jets defeated the host Warriors 43-33 to claim their second District 6AAA championship in four years and only the third in more than 20 years.
Coach Will Foster's troops will host Cleveland Saturday in the opening round of the Region 3AAA Tournament. The Raiders finished fourth in District 5AAA, losing to tournament top-seed Ooltewah in the consolation contest at Cleveland. Ooltewah was upset in the tournament semi-finals by Walker Valley, which defeated Bradley Central for the championship Tuesday evening.
Walker Valley will host Warren County, while Cookeville goes to Bradley Central. White County hosts Ooltewah.
CCHS opened the championship game with a 6-3 lead, but the Warriors took a 10-8 lead on a trey by Cade Crosland. CCHS hit three of four free throws in the waning moments of the quarter for an 11-10 advantage.
When the Jets had the alternating possession to start the second quarter, Foster had sophomore Diego Poore stand and dribble the ball, forcing the Warriors to come and get it. After several minutes, two Warriors forced a pass to go out of bounds in front of the Warrior bench, but CCHS retained the ball, as it was deflected by a Warrior. The slowdown brought out cheers and jeers from the fans of both teams.
Poore later converted a jumper for a 13-10 advantage, but CCHS would finish the half with a 15-14 lead.
For the half, CCHS was six of 14 from the field with five turnovers, while White County was five of 13 with five turnovers.
CCHS took a 22-19 lead with 3:31 left in the third quarter, but the Warriors finished the quarter with a 7-2 spurt for a 26-24 advantage to the delight of the Warrior faithful.
The teams exchanged three-pointers, with CCHS taking a 32-29 lead, but a trey by Zach Stephens sliced the Jet lead to 32-31. 33-32. CCHS had four shot attempts and four offensive rebounds to keep the lead, but an offensive foul gave the ball back to the Warriors. J.J. Miller had a couple of key offensive boards in the flury.
Dalton Nash's putback basket gave the Warriors a 33-32 lead.
A layup by Dylan Qualls triggered a 11-0 run in the final two minutes or so to turn "the agony of defeat " into the "thrill of victory." Five of nine free throws in the final 57.9 seconds was the dagger into the hearts of the Warriors.
After Tayler Houston's two freebies with 13.8 seconds gave the Jets a 43-33 lead, Foster and assistants Blaine Moore and Scott Davis took the starters out to a standing ovation by the Jet fans as time expired.
CCHS was 15 of 37 from the field and 10 of 15 from the charity stripe with 19 rebounds, seven assists, six steals and eight turnovers, while holding the Warriors to 13 of 35 from the field and two of two from the charity stripe with 10 turnovers.
Leading the assault were Jon Elmore, Poore (six points, one rebound, one assist, one steal), Brian Young (one rebound), Qualls (nine points, nine rebounds, three assists, two steals), J.J. Miller (four points, four rebounds, one steal), Tanner Christopher, Austin Brown, Alex Dixon, Houston (12 points, two rebounds, one assist, two steals), Cade Smith, Logan Parsons (nine points, two rebounds, two assists) and Cameron O'Rourke (two points, two rebounds).
Parsons, Houston, Qualls and Poore were named to the All-Tournament team, along with Tucker Smith, Warren County; Trey Henderson, Cookeville; Kordell Henderson, White County; Lucas Ledbetter, Cookeville; Dalton Nash, White County and Kane Young, White County.
White County earned the team Sportsmanship Award.