Morristown West vs Jasper

Morristown West falls to Jasper (AL) in King of Smokies Classic


PIGEON FORGE – Morristown West ran into a buzz saw on Wednesday afternoon in the first round of the King of Smokies Classic, as Jasper traveled up from Alabama and executed something similar to ‘death by full-court press’, as the Trojans were unable to get into any kind of flow in the first half, as Jasper went on to win 71-39.

Jasper continuously forced mistakes and turnovers early on, resulting in Morristown East only six points on two first half field goals. The Vikings also began the game with precise offensive execution early in the first quarter.


Morristown West’s Kyler McCullough (5) goes up for a shot, but is blocked by Jasper’s Miller Moody (35). Photo by Brian Hamilton

“In the first half I thought we played hard and defensively we did a few good things to allow us to kind of hang around,” Morristown West coach Joe Dobyns said after the game. “We obviously didn’t have many points and I felt like their size hindered us. We kind of faded away from the basket and took some quick shots. I felt we were very timid offensively.”

Miller Moody opened up the scoring on a layup to put Jasper up 2-0, followed by a Caiden Steiner three-pointer to extend the lead to 5-0.

The Vikings led 9-0 after back-to-back layups by Moody with just over five minutes remaining in the first quarter. Morristown West finally got on the board when Kyon Almonte converted 1-of-2 free throws to make the score 9-1. A layup by John Michael Rosen would cut the Trojans’ deficit to 9-3 with four minutes left in the quarter.

Morristown West would not score again in the first quarter, but Almonte did come up with a big play, blocking Steiner’s buzzer-beating three, as the Trojans avoided more possible damage. Jasper would take a 13-3 lead into the second quarter.

The second quarter was not kind to Morristown East either, as the Vikings’ full court pressure forced numerous turnovers, resulting in easy Jasper baskets.

A layup by Brodey Garrett would extend the Viking lead to 17-3, followed by a Miller post-up and score, making the score 20-4 with 2:49 left in the first half.

The Trojans’ first field goal of the second quarter came on a layup by Kyler McCullough to trim the Jasper lead to 22-6 with 1:21 to go. The Vikings would respond with a Clayton Thorne three, followed by a layup by Ethan Thorne to give Jasper a 27-6 advantage at the half.

Julian Sexton

Morristown West’s Julian Sexton (4) goes up for a basket while Jasper’s Miller Moody (35) defends. Photo by Brian Hamilton

“We were able to pressure their guards a little bit and create angles for ourselves,” Jasper coach Heath Burns said. “I thought our defense was really good early and I thought our anticipation was good. We got a lot of steals and were able to get a lot of run outs, but we missed a lot of shots at the rim, but that’s why you come to tournaments like this, to get better.”

Morristown West played its best basketball in the third quarter, as the Trojans trimmed the deficit to 37-24 on a Julian Sexton three-pointer with 2:24 in the quarter. At that point, Morristown West had outscored Jasper 18-10.

After another Viking basket, Almonte would grab a steal and go up for a dunk on a fast break, making the score 39-26.

“In the third quarter, I felt we were a lot more aggressive trying to attack the rim and we got some shots to go down,” said Dobyns. “I felt like we didn’t shy away much (in the third quarter). We continued to play hard and some shots started to fall for us, allowing us to get back in the game.”

Jasper would hit the Morristown West with another surge to end the third quarter, as the Trojans has an opportunity to hold for the last shot of the quarter, but instead turned the ball over, which resulted in a buzzer-beating three by Caden Steiner, giving Jasper a 48-30 lead heading into the final stanza.

“We didn’t protect the ball very well and we didn’t convert some easy opportunities at the rim (in the third quarter),” Burns said. “Caden Steiner is a good player and I feel like our point guard did a good job of initiating our set right there on the little buzzer-beater that we put in. Jon Michael Brown did a good job of setting the screen and Caden was wide open.”

Titus Waldrop

Morristown West defenders attempt to deflect a shot by Jasper’s Titus Waldrop (11). Photo by Brian Hamilton

The Trojans would never recover from getting punched in the mouth at the end of the third quarter, as Jasper would see its lead soon balloon to 61-31.

A three by Easton Banks would give the Vikings their largest lead of the game at 66-32, followed by a Stacey McCollum three that would push the lead to 35.

Kyler McCullough would hit a layup with 20 seconds to go, but it was far too little, too late, as Jasper came away with a 71-39 win.

Jasper’s Miller Moody led all scorers with 20, despite getting in foul trouble, while Caden Steiner tallied 17 for the Vikings. Jon Michael Brown also finished in double-figures with 10.

Morristown West was led by Julian Sexton’s 13 points, while Kyler McCullough finished with nine and Kyon Almonte added seven.

The Vikings (12-2) advance to Thursday’s semifinal against Knox Catholic (10-4) at 2 p.m. at Pigeon Forge High School. Morristown West (7-6) will face Pisgah (AL) in the consolation bracket at 2 p.m. at Pigeon Forge Junior High.

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