Sevier County outlasts Patriots in defensive slugfest 45-35


SEVIERVILLE – Sevier County came into Friday night’s game down two starters in Jayden Barton and Bryson Hedrick, but the Smoky Bears were able to score just enough and rely on solid defense to come away with a 45-35 region win over Jefferson County.

Parker Newman

Parker Newman (12) goes up for a basket during Sevier County’s 45-35 win over Jefferson County Friday night. Photo by Brian Hamilton

“That was a hungry team over there,” Sevier County head coach Ken Wright said of Jefferson County. “They came out and they played hard and they gave us everything they had. My hat’s off to them. They scrapped hard. They played with a lot of pride tonight and I’m glad our guys were able to hold them off.”

As with any layoff, Sevier County coach Ken Wright said it is tough to get back in rhythm as a team. The Smoky Bears had a 15-day layoff due to winter weather before defeating Morristown West 55-45 on Wednesday, the game where Barton suffered a sprained ankle.

“When kids get out of a routine…we’re not meshing at all right now,” Wright said. “Now, some of that has to do with us having two starters out that are injured right now. Like I always say, with the snow days, when kids are out of school, they’re not thinking about practice. They’re staying up all night, playing video games and all that stuff and the last thing they want to do is come practice, so you don’t have very good practices.”

The two district rivals battled back and forth early, as Jefferson County took a 4-2 lead midway through the first quarter.

Parker Newman hit a three to give the Smoky Bears a 5-4 lead with just over three minutes left in the period, but Brody Carr would make a layup to put the Patriots back in front 6-5.

Jefferson County led 8-5 when Reed Ownby nailed a three with 41 seconds left to tie the score at 8-8. Parker Newman followed with another three with eight seconds remaining to make the score 11-8.

After a steal, Ownby hit a basket at the buzzer to give Sevier County a 13-8 lead, as the Smoky Bears closed the first quarter on an 8-0 run.

Roman Gibbons grabbed a steal and scored to make the score 17-8, as the Smoky Bears stretched the run to 12-0 early in the second quarter.

Jefferson County would trim the Sevier County lead to 17-13 when Carr hit a layup with just over six minutes left in the half, but Newman would hit a pair of free throws to make the score 19-13 with 5:36 left.

Jefferson County's Jacon Shrader (1) goes up for a basket while Mason Ward (1) takes attempts to take a charge and Reed Ownby (23) defends from behind. Photo by Brian Hamilton

A three-pointer by Kip Parker would slice the Patriots’ deficit to 19-16, but Sevier County would finish the second quarter on a 10-2 run to take a 29-18 halftime lead.

Jefferson County would pull to within 29-21 early in the third quarter on a Carr layup, but Ownby would answer with an old-fashioned three-point play to extend the Sevier County lead to 32-21 with 5:06 left.

The Patriots got the lead back to within single digits when Parker sank a pair of free throws, followed by a layup, making the score 34-26 with 1:43 remaining.

With the score 36-26, Parker Newman went up for a basket at the buzzer and was fouled with 0.4 seconds left and awarded two free throws. The freshman sank both freebies and the Smoky Bears took a 38-26 lead into the final stanza.

Sevier County took a 42-28 lead early in the fourth quarter on baskets by Ownby and Trenton Lethco, but Parker would answer with a basket to pull Jefferson County to within 42-30 with six minutes remaining.

Neither team would score again until Parker nailed a three with 1:31 remaining to trim the Patriots’ deficit to single digits at 42-33.

A basket by Carr would make the score 43-35 with 36 seconds remaining, but it was too little, too late for Jefferson County, as the Smoky Bears went on to win 45-35.

Reed Ownby

Reed Ownby (23) attempts a three during the Smoky Bears’ 45-35 win over Jefferson County Friday night. Ownby finished the game with 20 points. Photo by Brian Hamilton

“Right now, missing some of our scorers like we are, we’d better play good defense,” Wright said. “It was mixed at times. We gave up too many easy buckets early on, but when you hold a team to 35 points, you’ll take that every game.”

Reed Ownby led all scorers with 20 points, while Kip Parker was Jefferson County’s leading scorer with 18, with all coming after the first quarter.

Only two other players scored in double figures during the low scoring affair, as Parker Newman finished with 12 and Brody Carr added 10 for the Patriots.

Sevier County (16-5, 3-1 Class 4A District 2) will travel to Fulton (20-2) on Tuesday to face the reigning Class 3A champs. Jefferson County (7-12, 0-3 District 2) will travel to Morristown East (18-5, 3-0 District 2) on Monday, as the Patriots search for their first district win.

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