A second-consecutive regular season District 7AA championship didn’t come easy for the Cumberland County Jets on Tuesday, as they overcame a 16-point deficit at Marion County to win 68-61. The win secures the Jets’ position as the number-one seed in the District 7AA tournament in February.
“What matters to us is the district tournament,” said CCHS coach Will Foster. “But it is impressive; this is a tough place to play. We didn’t play well at the beginning and we let them get hot.”
Marion County opened the contest red-hot as guard Nicq Ivory hit a trio of three-pointers in the opening period to give the Warriors a 23-12 lead after one period. That lead grew to 32-16 midway through the second period before the Jets switched to a full-court press and began chipping away at the MCHS lead.
Freshman Carson Conatser recorded two steals in less than 15 seconds that resulted in Jet baskets to narrow the gap to 36-29 with 2:55 left in the first half. Cumberland County trimmed the lead to two points, 38-36, at halftime.
“They’ve been doing it all year,” said Foster on underclassmen stepping up. “It could be Kole Torres, Adam or Carson in any game. I’ve got a lot of faith in them. We hadn’t pressed all year, and I’m very proud of the way the played.”
Senior Kyle Spieles wasted no time in the second half as he knocked down a three-pointer on the opening possession of the third period to give the Jets a 39-38 lead.
“Kyle can shoot it,” said Foster. “He got us up by four later on.”
Cumberland County and Marion County traded leads six times in the third period, and the Jets led 53-48 going into the final period.
The Warriors were able to take a 60-59 lead with 3:17 left before the Jets went on an 8-0 run over the course of two minutes to go ahead 68-59. Marion County would score once more to make the final score 68-61.
CCHS’ Trystan Miller scored 10 crucial points in in the second half, including six the fourth period. Spieles finished with 21 points, including five made three-pointers.
“We want him to be aggressive,” said Foster on Miller. “That’s what we’re looking for out of him. He played really well in that fourth quarter.”
With the win, the Jets are now 8-12 overall on the season and 6-0 in district play. Since moving to District 7AA last season, Cumberland County is 16-0 overall against district opponents.
The Jets aren’t done yet, as they have two more district contests and three non-district contests on their schedule.
“They don’t want to just lock up the on-seed,” said Foster on his players. “They want to be perfect. That’s what I want them to do. If I had told you our goal was to go 8-0 in district play and 2-0 in the tournament, you might have laughed at me. These kids have heart and they play hard all the time.”
The Jets will host Sequatchie County for homecoming this Friday.
Cumberland County (68): Kyle Spieles 21, Mason Wyatt 12, Trystan Miller 11, Carson Conatser 7, Adam Floyd 6, Reese Dykes 3, Trevor Parsons 2, Kole Torres 2, Ben Patton 2, Andre Flores 2